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Exclusive! Keerthy Suresh: Speaking in formal Malayalam for Vaashi’s courtroom scenes was challenging

The National Award-winning actress talks about her role in her comeback Malayalam film Vaashi, which also has Tovino Thomas in the lead

  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 04.43 AM, Jun 16, 2022

Exclusive! Keerthy Suresh: Speaking in formal Malayalam for Vaashi’s courtroom scenes was challenging
Keerthy Suresh in a still from Vaashi

Point out that it’s been nine years since Keerthy Suresh’s debut in a lead role in Malayalam and the National Award-winning actress expresses surprise. “I was thinking it was just seven years,” she says, a day before the release of her only fourth Malayalam movie, Vaashi, in that duration. The upcoming Vishnu G Raghav directorial, which also has Tovino Thomas in the lead, marks a lot of firsts too – as it would see her playing a lawyer for the first time in her career and has her sharing screen space with her dad G Suresh Kumar in the movie.

In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the actress, who is still being lauded for her performance in Saani Kaayidham, tells us about her role in Vaashi, its challenges and more.

Vaashi has you making your comeback in a lead role again in Malayalam after eight years since your last such movie. What made you take up the project?

It’s not like all these years I didn’t find any interesting scripts in Malayalam. That’s not the case at all. I started off in Malayalam, then I moved to Tamil and Telugu, where I got busier. The kind of schedules that we have in these two industries are totally different from what we have in Malayalam because we shoot a film for five to six months. So, when I have 30 days, I give it to at least two to three movies. On the other hand, in Malayalam, a movie is finished in one or two schedules. So, if I am asked for dates at a short notice, I won’t be able to do it. That’s the only reason I wasn’t able to do Malayalam films when I got the offers.

In the case of Vaashi, Vishnu narrated the script to me at the initial stage. I loved it and told him I am doing it. But the first thing I said was, ‘Please don’t tell me you are planning to do the film in the next two or three months’. He said it was going to take some time because it was still in the nascent stage. So, that’s how I got to be part of it.

From what we know about Vaashi from the trailer, there’s this interesting dynamic between the two protagonists. Did that appeal to you the most?

Definitely, that’s what attracted me. Both of them share equal space and they have a face-off. Also, Vishnu has beautifully blended the courtroom angle with the family drama. The movie doesn’t start off in the court; it’s essentially a family drama. But both of them being lawyers, at one point they get to know that it’s the same case and they are at two ends. That’s how it sort of leads to the court and then we go deeper into the case. All of this is shown through the perspective of both these characters. It’s not like we start off with a case where we are trying to investigate. The movie is about Madhavi and Ebin. 

Also read: Exclusive! Vishnu G Raghav: I am sure that both family and youth audience will connect with Vaashi’s content 

Did the film have a much more relaxed schedule compared to the movies that you have done earlier?

Not really, we started off with the court sequences on the second day and those weren’t easy. The scenes had formal Malayalam, not something that we use in our day-to-day conversations. In other scenes, you try to understand the dialogue and deliver it in your own words, but in the court sequences, you can’t do that. The first 10-12 days we shot the court scenes and for that we required a lot of script-reading sessions. Every day after the shoot, four of us – Vishnu, Tovino, myself and an associate called Sonal – would sit together, discuss, understand and improvise.

In that sense, despite the film being in your mother tongue, it would have pushed you out of your comfort zone?

Yes, definitely. Every time something or the other keeps pushing you; nothing is easy. For this film, I have never played a lawyer before. Madhavi is a bold, professional and a mature character. To deliver what Vishnu had in mind, I had to first understand her characteristics and mannerisms, which were all definitely different. Also, the way you talk in court is different from how you are outside. So, I had to bring in those differences as well. All of that was a challenge.

When you started out in Malayalam in Geethaanjali, you worked with a group of people that you were familiar with – be it Mohanlal or Priyadarshan. Marakkar too had the same team. With Vaashi too, did having your family’s Revathy Kalamandir as producers help ease things – even though all these films happened at different phases in your career?

Actually, that happened organically. For Vaashi, Vishnu came and narrated the script to me, and I was the first one to come onboard with Tovino. Vishnu then approached producer Sandip Senan, who is also my cousin, with another project. That’s how my dad came in the picture and later my mother and sister. So, it wasn’t like we all decided to do a movie. I committed to a movie professionally and later, it all just fell into place naturally.

When I worked in the film, I was doing it in my capacity as an actor; I had nothing to do with the production part. And it’s not like it becomes easier, but there definitely is a comfort zone when you know everybody on the sets. At the end of the day, it’s also a challenge when you have your closed ones around.

Since the pandemic, you have had a few OTT releases including the acclaimed Saani Kaayidham as well as big theatrical ones such as Sarkaru Vaari Paata and Annaatthe. Tell us about how the reception of OTT films compares to the theatricals.

Both theatres and OTT are important platforms. But for some films such as Saani Kaayidham, OTTs are the best avenue. The movie was given an ‘A’ certificate and it didn’t make sense releasing it in theatres. Also, when a film releases on OTT, its reach is wider. People get to see it all over the world. So, we should look at it from that perspective. Movies that have to be released in theatres should get that avenue, and movies that have to be released on OTTs, should be given that platform.