Born to a Tamilian mother and half-Telugu and half-Maharashtrian father, and having moved around India during childhood, actor Priya Anand says that learning a new language has never really been a problem for her. While she is yet to pick up Malayalam, the actor says that she understands it without the help of a translator. “The only challenge I have with Malayalam is there are so many different dialects. It is taking time because each person’s accent is so different. I have gotten to a point where I understand when people speak but I am not yet having conversations in Malayalam,” she says.
Priya’s first costume-drama Kayamkulam Kochunni hit screens today. In the film, she shares screen space with Malayalam’s rising star Nivin Pauly. Ask her did the filmmakers use any dialect in the movie and she jokes, “Obviously, it’s a period film. Not that I know one from the other.”
Priya Anand, however, memorized all her lines because the movie was shot on sync sound. “And also other actors can’t perform when they are not hearing the lines,” she reasons.
She is now really excited to see how the audience will appreciate her performance in Kayamkulam Kochunni, which is her second outing in Malayalam after last year’s horror film Ezra. “I always wanted to be part of a period film. And to get to be part of something that is so authentic and true is so exciting,” she adds.
Kochunni has been a part of Malayalam folklore for decades now. It has been part of Amar Chitra Katha comic series and has inspired TV serials and a feature film. “The movie shows how this regular boy called Kochunni became Kayamkulam Kochunni. I play Janaki, Kochunni’s love interest which everyone knows,” she says while politely declining to discuss her character any further. “There is a little streak to Janaki’s character which I don’t want to reveal. I am so thankful and I had a lot of fun playing the role.”
Priya Anand was roped in to replace Amala Paul who opted out of the film citing scheduling problem. “Love is the driving force in a lot of stories. In the same way, a lot of what Kochunni does has to do with Janaki,” she says, adding that it will not be a run-of-the-mill love story.
Talking about working with Kayamkulam Kochunni director Rosshan Andrrews, she said, “He (Rosshan Andrrews) is so particular. He knows exactly what he wants from his actors. Not just from me, he even knows what he wants from an actor like Mohanlal. It is very nice to work with someone like him.” She adds, “Everything is in his head. He is literally a one-man army. He doesn’t need a dance or stunt choreographer. He doesn’t need anybody. He only says yes to what he wants. He doesn’t give up until he gets what exactly he wants.”
Priya also refused to reveal whether or not she got to do scenes with superstar Mohanlal, who has played an extended cameo in the upcoming period drama. “That you will have to watch the film to find out,” she argues. “There is no point in talking about what each of us play. There is so much planning that has gone into making this film. I think it is more fun watching it on the screen.”
While Priya Anand had fun playing her dream role in the movie, the actor revealed to us that she did not get to have fun on the sets between the takes. “Because I was busy learning the lines,” she reveals. “It is not the kind of movie where you hang out (with co-stars) and have a good time. We worked for this film for a long, long time. Eight months I didn’t do any other film to be part of this film.”
Priya feels that the project got much bigger with Mohanlal joining the sets. “We had a lot of things to accomplish. It took a lot of patience from the crew because of the weather conditions, sets and all of it.”
Set in the 19th century, the film will narrate the story of legendary 19th century highway-thief Kayamkulam Kochunni. He was known for stealing from the haves and giving it to the have-nots. The film will narrate Kochunni’s Robin Hood-like adventures and also focus on other details in his life that inspired him to do things he did.