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Exclusive! Aditi Balan: I was nervous when I joined Padavettu but Nivin Pauly made me feel at ease

Aruvi fame Aditi Balan talks about her upcoming Malayalam movie Padavettu and her experience while shooting the film in Kannur

Exclusive! Aditi Balan: I was nervous when I joined Padavettu but Nivin Pauly made me feel at ease
Aditi Balan
  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 04.43 AM, Oct 19, 2022

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If not for the pandemic, Aditi Balan would have made her debut in Malayalam with Nivin Pauly’s Padavettu. She had joined the film, helmed by Liju Krishna, in 2019 but the lockdowns meant that the shoot was delayed. In fact, it allowed her enough time to shoot another Malayalam film, Cold Case, which released last year on Amazon Prime Video.

Now, almost three years later, the socio-political drama is set for release on October 21. Aditi, in an exclusive chat with OTTplay, talks about her character, the experience of working in the movie and more.

How did Padavettu find you?

After my Tamil film Aruvi, I had gone for a theatre workshop. That’s when the director reached out to me and asked if he could narrate the story to me. That was in 2018. I liked the script. My role in the film isn’t too big but I felt it was a good character for me to make my debut in Malayalam cinema. Eventually, I did another film, Cold Case, that released before Padavettu.


A lot of the characters in the film are played by real-life farmers. You had spent a lot of time interacting with the people on the sets in Kannur. Did that help your character and also understand their problems?

My character works in a milk society. There was a chechi whom Liju had loosely based the character on. So, even before the shoot began, I went there to meet her. It was my first time visiting Kannur and people there are generally nice and loving. There was another character named Pushpamma, who is Nivin’s aunt in the film. Remya (Suresh) chechi plays that character and she actually spent a lot of time with the people. I didn’t have to do the farming but she really did that for her role. Generally, when I go to film shoots, I like meeting people and understanding their setting. I didn’t delve deep into their problems but I did interact with them.

This must have also been a vastly different role from Aruvi.

Yes, Aruvi was my first proper experience in cinema. After that I was doing this film and I was quite nervous. It’s not like that I have been in and out of films and was completely aware of its workings. Aruvi was completely new experience – we worked as a family, we shot and stayed together. So, for Padavettu, it was after a long time that I was returning in front of the camera. Nivin, that way, was very supportive and put me at ease. I was not at all intimidated.

Unlike Cold Case, which had a lot of experienced talent on the sets including Prithviraj Sukumaran and Jomon T John, Padavettu, apart from Nivin, had a relatively young team. Did that help too?

I have been lucky that way because the teams that I have worked with have had people who are just starting off their careers. Everyone is in their learning space, where they are trying to understand the set-up. When I went to Kannur, like I had mentioned, the people were so welcoming; you never feel like you are an outsider.

My experience in cinema is also limited. The films that I have done in Tamil – be it Aruvi or Navarasa – didn’t have the usual set-up. Padavettu that way was also a comfortable experience. The working might have been different but I don’t have a reference to draw comparison.

Aditi Balan in a still from Cold Case
Aditi Balan in a still from Cold Case

It's also a film that had a lot of start-stop schedules due to the pandemic. Did that pose any challenge in terms of playing the character, especially because you had also worked in another film?

Not really, because my portions in the second schedule were limited. It was just a song or a scene. I didn’t have too much to do in the later schedules.

What are your upcoming films?

I have done two anthologies in Tamil. I also played a character in Samantha’s Shaakuntalam. I was aware of the story and when the role was offered, I thought it was a good one. It’s a different kind of commercial film; how the Telugu industry functions is itself different and this film needed so much make-up. It’s the first time I am doing a movie where I had to speak to animals but there weren't any in the frame. I had also danced in the film. It was quite an experience and I wanted to explore that side too.