When you do a role as intense as hers, it’s bound to have an immense effect on your psyche too. In an emotionally stirring performance that’s garnering rave reviews, actress Paayal Radhakrishna is impressing audiences as Kaveri in Bhinna. In the Adarsh Eshwarappa-directed Kannada film that premiered on Zee 5 on October 8, Paayal plays a schizophrenic. In this casual chat with Silverscreen, she gets talking about her foray into cinema and more…
“The response to the film has been more than expected. I was actually really upset that the film didn’t release in the theatre, but now I think going directly digital is a really good decision because it’s the kind of subject that should be watched by people across India and outside the country too. Everybody should watch the film — it should not be limited to people in Karnataka. I got a really good response after the screening and people really appreciated our work and it was overwhelming considering the homework we’d done and effort we’d put in. We’d done double shifts to finish the movie in 20 days,” says the actor. She also points out that a lot of people could relate to Kaveri from Puttana Kanagal’s classic Sharapanjara, on which Bhinna is based. “For a fresher like me, it’s really overwhelming as people have been talking about my performance and not about how good I look on screen. And that’s what’s really important for a true actor.”
Recalling how Bhinna happened to her, Paayal says that she was in Mumbai and had just finished her diploma in acting. “I wasn’t really happy with the kind of projects I was getting. I sent my audition tape to the makers of Bhinna and came down for it and they immediately selected me. Adarsh gave me the script the same day and I went back home and started rehearsing,” adds the artiste who believes that this role was a great beginning to show her potential. “When he gave me the script, during the first five readings, I didn’t understand it. But during rehearsals, I understood it better. Adarsh told me I would be playing the role of the person suffering from the illness.”
To play a schizophrenic character, Paayal had to do a lot of research – reading study materials, books, the information given by the director and also watch YouTube videos to understand the mental illness. “I’m part of an NGO in Mysore and I spoke to the doctors there. Not many people, in general, know about schizophrenia. It would be a cliché for me to say that I was too much into the character, but honestly, as an actor when you’re actually into it, it’s true that it drains you out emotionally and physically. And since this was my first movie, I literally didn’t know anything. I was so sucked into the character that even after the shoot got over, it would hit me,” says the actress. Although she did a commercial mass movie called Bangalore Underworld a couple of years ago, Paayal admits that there wasn’t much of her in it.
So what’s the best review she’s gotten till now? “One of the people who attended the screening said that they weren’t expecting so much from a fresher like me. And that feels great as when I was picking up the role, I wasn’t sure how it will be received,” she answers. Now that Bhinna is out, the actress is shooting for a Telugu film titled Loka Kalyana Kosam. “I do know Telugu quite well, and by the next schedule, I’m sure I’ll learn it fully,” says the Mangalorean, whose mother tongue is Konkani.
From being a professional dancer to becoming an actor, Paayal says she’s always been on stage. “But I don’t think I was sure about acting initially. However, in high school, I decided to take it forward. I got into modeling and then switched to acting,” says the Vidyasharam alumnus who dropped out of architecture to pursue acting full-time. “I don’t regret the decision at all — I think I should’ve done it earlier! My family wasn’t okay with it initially. The first year was spent in me realising that this is what I want to do. Later, I wanted to convince my family and worked my way out of it,” she reminisces.
Talk veers towards her director Adarsh and Paayal smiles, “Now when I look back, it feels easy, but I really don’t know how I did it. But we rehearsed for one month and that was really crucial as we were shooting in sync sound. I couldn’t fumble, nobody was going to give me a cue – that month taught me a lot. It’s all on Adarsh, I really cannot take credit for it. It was amazing working with him.”
As for her future films, the danseuse-turned-actor does have a wish list. But right now, she’s up for commercial and all genres that test her. Her Telugu film is a rom-com and she says, “I’m up for everything, but the script should make sense.
Featured Image Credit: Prajwal Mylimane