Sai Pallavi is the kind of actor who can play an endearing teacher in Premam as effortlessly as the mischievous Anandi in Maari 2, without compromising on her craft. But she is not trained in acting. “When I do a scene, everything else goes blank. I lose sense of whatever and whoever is around. It’s just me in the character and that moment,” she says.
In her recent release, NGK, Sai Pallavi conveyed the seemingly most complex emotions with an air of casualness. “I did NGK because I knew it was going to be one heck of a learning experience. Selvaraghavan sir made me do things that aren’t in my comfort zone. He’s an ideal teacher and will show exact expressions that one must give. I learned so much about acting and cinema from him. In particular, there was so much unlearning. During the shoot, he made me drop my inhibitions and react to situations the way I would if I were at home. You can even go for 15-20 takes, you wouldn’t see him lose cool. Ever since NGK, I have been rooting for roles that challenge me,” she adds.
Sai Pallavi, who completed her MBBS from Georgia, feels she has evolved as a better actor with every film. “Some actors are methodical and others, spontaneous. I’m an amalgamation of both. To be honest, I don’t know how to act. Earlier, I simply would follow what my directors used to say. Now, I show involvement on the sets. I observe, behave, respond and learn,” she says.
How does she shake off the character after the wrap-up? “I get emotionally attached to the characters I play. But the closest on-screen role I can relate with is Malar.”
Also, Sai Pallavi believes her characters often push her to realise who she is. “When you are working on a film, it takes about six months of your time and there is always something to learn. Some of my characters stay with me for long even after the shooting is completed,” she observes.
Sai Pallavi is conscious of asking questions about her character to directors. “I always think about how will I behave if I were that person and give my best. But with Selvaraghavan sir, there was this no-seeing-monitor rule,” she says.
Ask about Suriya, her face lights up. “I was required to cry for certain scenes and took multiple takes. I felt bad about the same, but Suriya sir was supportive and encouraging. He’s a disciplinarian who enjoys what he does. As a co-star, he was a pleasure to work with. I had a huge crush on him as a school goer,” she says, laughing.
Sai Pallavi shares that all her focus is on improving her craft now. While on one hand, she’s meticulous and thorough, making sure the script is running through her mind, on the other hand, she’s very critical about her work.
Does she regret the delay in acting in Tamil? “Not at all. Everybody has their own instinctive journey which is carved out for them and works beautifully for them. I am going with the flow—be it dance or acting,” she notes.
What about medicine? “My entry into films was unexpected. My doctor dreams are alive still. I was drawn to medicine because I’m fond of serving people,” she says.
The Fidaa actor says she doesn’t see herself as a star. “I wouldn’t want to be that either. Even today, I don’t use make-up. I am not fond of it. I love myself how I am,” she adds. But I tell her the sensational “Rowdy Baby’’ song made her one. “I can’t thank everyone enough for all the love. The credit equally goes to Dhanush sir and Prabhudheva master. Only I know how nervous I was,” she signs off.