Playing a tribal woman in the forests of Kerala in the morning and then travelling to Chennai to play a contemporary woman in the evening is no joke, but that’s how crazy life can be for actors sometimes.
Bengali actress Kamalini Mukherjee entered the film industry with Revathy’s Phir Milenge and has worked predominantly in South Indian cinema, sharing the screen with the likes of Kamal Haasan (Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu) and Mammootty (national award winner Kutty Shrank), Nagarjuna (Shiridi Sai) and now Mohan Lal in her next Malayalam film, Pulimurugan.
Back to Tamil cinema after around a decade, Mukherjee, in an exclusive conversation with tabloid! speaks about her role in this weekend’s release, Iraivi, and more.
How did you juggle between the sets of ‘Pulimurgan’ and ‘Iraivi’?
That’s what I like about being an actor. Both the roles are completely different. It’s not difficult if you know your characters well. While listening to a script I ask myself: Do I know her? Can I feel what she is feeling? I don’t immediately say yes to the role but sleep over it. And if I am confident the next morning about fitting into her shoes, I take it up. The next step is understanding her through discussions with the director and my co-actors.
Tell us about your role in ‘Iraivi’.
I play Yazhini, S.J. Suryah’s wife, and a mother of a little girl. Yazhini is today’s woman and, like so many of us, she is doing several things as she manages family and a career. In the film, you catch her at an intense time of her life and her relationship with her husband. I have never played a mother earlier nor gone through this phase of Yazhini’s life. It was something I was not familiar with.
How was it working with Karthik Subbaraj?
It was amazing. Karthik belongs to the new generation of directors and he is fearless where cinema is concerned. He is sure of the medium, the story and bold in his thinking. Karthik gives his actors freedom. The characters developed organically and it was more about reactions rather than thought-out acting.
What about Pulimurugan?
That’s a larger-than-life story of a tiger hunt and 90 per cent was shot in the forests. Lal sir is a hunter and I am his wife.
Having worked with stalwarts, what is one common aspect in all of them?
Their humility; that was huge. Despite their experience of several films, they relate to you as a normal person. It’s not just me — they treat the spot boys and technicians the same. That speaks a lot about them.
Did you plan to work in films?
No, there was no deliberate plan as such. I have been on stage since I was in class one at school. And then in college, I have been actively involved in the dramatics department. I enjoy being on stage and the live reaction it brings from the audience, unlike cinema where everything is doctored before the camera. I miss the stage now. After being on stage for long, cinema was a natural transition.
Have you signed any Bengali films?
My last one, Aparajito Tumi, was about an NRI girl from the US. I am keen on playing a typical Bengali girl living in Bengal. I am listening to few scripts.