National award winner Aparna Balamurali says her work in ‘Soorarai Pottru’ has helped her as an actor

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Aparna Balamurali has three Malayalam films and one Tamil film, Nitham Oru Vaanam, lined up for release

Aparna Balamurali has three Malayalam films and one Tamil film, Nitham Oru Vaanam, lined up for release

Aparna Balamurali lived it up as the feisty, strong and empathetic Sundari Bommi opposite Soorya in Sudha Kongara’s Soorarai Pottru (SP). Winning the National award for the best actress for Bommi is the crowning glory for the natural actor.

Aparna says, ”It felt really great to get the national award for a film I had worked hard for. The awards the film won in different categories shows the kind of work, we, as a team, had put into the film.”

The toughest part of playing Bommi, says the architect-turned-actor, was to walk a tightrope to ensure that Bommi was neither too pushy nor preachy. Agreeing that she took time to understand the character and her story, Aparna recalls how the characterisation had to be subtle but strong. “The Madurai dialect was extremely difficult to learn and speak like a native. Also, Bommi was born and brought up in a village in Madurai, yet she dreams of running her own business, rejects a proposal and moves on with her life even when people were talking about her. For me, that was something really interesting about the character,” she explains.

In Tamil, her next film is Nitham Oru Vaanam, Ra Karthik’s directorial debut, in which she acts with Ashok Selvan, Ritu Varma and Shivathmika Rajashekar.

“It’s a beautiful story of a man who is trying to find his own space. A feel-good film with many stories within the main story and is all about hope and how nothing is the end of the world,” says Aparna.

Aparna Balamurali
| Photo Credit: R K Nithin

Once the shooting of SP was over, Aparna took a break as she was keen that people watch SP as “There was a process in the film that I have never experienced, at least not in my Malayalam movies. I wanted viewers to see the difference it made to the characterisation.” But then the pandemic struck and the break got prolonged. Not unduly worried about her hiatus from cinema, she says she has been able to take the “process” she learnt in SP to other movies that she is acting in.

Her evolution from Jimsey, her character in Maheshinte Pratikaaram, in which she made her debut in cinema, to Bommi, included many films that she made a mark in, with her spontaneity. She feels that till Bommi came along, she was happy that she was able to breathe life into a character once a script was given to me.”As you continue working, there is a tendency to develop a kind of template for characters. I had to unlearn all that for Bommi and understand how to get into the skin of a character, think like her, and breathe the air she lives in. After so many characters I learnt that in SP,” says Aparna.

At present, the actor is shooting for Thankam starring Dileesh Pothan, Vineeth Sreenivasan and Biju Menon. Directed by Theeram director Saheed Arafath, Thankam has been scripted by Syam Pushkaran.

Coming up next are Sundari Gardens, Mindiyum Parajum, Ini Utharam and Padmini, directed by Senna Hegde.

She has also sung in Mindiyum Paranjum. She hopes that she gets a chance to act in a film where she can showcase her dance moves, with which she made a mark in Maheshinte Prathikaram.

Being Bommi

“Thanks to SP, I found that if you know your character really well, then improvisation also becomes easier. You would probably think about her past, her influences… For instance in SP, in her family, it is Bommi’s brother who gets all the positive attention while all they want for Bommi is to get married. Once you know your role, then it is easy to make backstories for the character.”

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