As Shraddha Srinath and director H Vinoth speak about Nerkonda Paarvai, the Tamil remake of Hindi blockbuster Pink, releasing today, their excitement is palpable. “A lot of girls auditioned for my role, and I feel glad to have bagged this wonderful opportunity. The first time I met Vinoth, he told one of his assistants that I resembled Taapsee (Pannu). That was unusual. After a look test, I came on board. After all, who would say ‘no’ to an Ajith sir film?” smiles Shraddha, hoping Nerkonda Paarvai can bring about a lot of changes in society.
The fact that Shraddha chose Nerkonda Paarvai shows she is settling for nothing but the best. “It’s not only about joining a big-league film, but also doing a performance-oriented role. I don’t get such offers all the time. I am continuing to pick characters that are strong,” she says.
Shraddha Srinath understands the star power of Ajith Kumar. Cheekily, she asks with a laughter, “Had Nerkonda Paarvai been about just three women, who would watch it?” adding, “Ajith sir has this god-like image and whatever he says will be taken seriously. When someone like him says ‘no means no’, it matters.”
Though her character Meera (originally played by Taapsee Pannu) drives the story forward, Shraddha hasn’t caught Pink yet. “The idea is to watch the original film after Nerkonda Paarvai’s release,” the actor says. But why? “Remakes are tricky and I wanted to approach Nerkonda Paarvai as a fresh film. Taapsee and I are different people. Naturally, our understanding of characters won’t be the same. Further, I didn’t want to be influenced by her performance and I like it that way,” she notes.
Shraddha Srinath remembers watching that scene on television, where Taapsee’s character was molested, though. “I was shaking and couldn’t take it,” she reveals. Once Shraddha listens to the script, she puts herself into the shoes of the character and starts visualising things that are on paper. “It paves the way for improvisation. Honestly speaking, it’s not easy to reprise someone else’s role. I am not sure how I would react if another actor does my role, for instance,” the actor shares.
To pull off a character subjected to sexual assault, Shraddha had to be in a specific state of mind. “I felt disturbed as this happens to every woman from all walks of life. It was an intense and emotionally draining experience, with everyone giving creative inputs. My character Meera is a livewire and reacts easily to circumstances,” she says, recalling the Nirbhaya episode. “I kept thinking about what that girl would have gone through, to get into my character’s headspace. Without Vinoth’s ideation, this wouldn’t have been possible. He asked us to put in our best effort,” the actor adds. Shraddha is equally pleased by Vinoth’s level of clarity of thoughts. “He’s a super-involved filmmaker and knows how to extract what he wants.” For now, Shraddha’s focus is on experimenting with her choice of roles and is determined to not repeat them.
Post-Sathuranga Vettai, H Vinoth had written a script for Ajith Kumar. “I had a chance to meet sir after the release of Theeran Adhigaram Ondru, but he wasn’t ready to do a role with negative shades at that point of time,” says Vinoth, who was initially apprehensive of directing Nerkonda Paarvai. “It is not because of the comparisons between Amitabh Bachchan sir and Ajith sir exactly. But this will be one of his best films. It was Sridevi madam who insisted that Ajith sir does the Pink remake and eventually, Boney (Kapoor) sir acquired the remake rights. I was only worried about convincing Ajith sir’s fans because we haven’t played much to the gallery. Someone of his stature accepting a remake itself is a big thing. As a team, we were conscious of staying true to the content and approaching it without compromises. Additionally, we have added a couple of songs and a fight sequence and the runtime of Nerkonda Paarvai is more than Pink,” adds the director.
We ask how it was to work with Thala. “Naanga saapta unit saapadu dhaan avarum saaptaaru. He made me comfortable on the sets. Sometimes, he makes you forget he is a star and that happens when he trusts someone completely,” smiles Vinoth.
Nerkonda Paarvai will be an important film for the Tamil film industry, especially after the #MeToo movement, acknowledges H Vinoth. “Cases of violence against women are steadily increasing and there’s a gap between how we understand women and how they are treated. Not many understand the concept of ‘consent’. We live in a country that normalises even marital rape. The film will initiate social discussions and get people talking,” he observes.
Vinoth established himself as a serious filmmaker with his first outing. “I always have an urge to tell a story in a different way and remaking a universally-accepted film like Pink was no joke. Everyone worked well together absorbing the characters and portrayed them with conviction. I believe every film has its own destiny. A film isn’t what we make, but what happens. Nerkonda Paarvai should reach a wide spectrum of the audience, not just big cities. Only then, I will consider myself successful. The film is a must-watch for men, in particular.”
Before concluding, H Vinoth says the Thala 60 shooting will commence from September onwards. While speculations are abuzz that Ajith could play a cop, sources confirm the film will be an action entertainer, in which Ajith will play a bike racer. “It is too early to talk about my next,” Vinoth signs off.