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Exclusive! Meera Jasmine: The maturity I have gained from my life experiences reflects in my acting in Makal

The National Award-winning actress, who is making her comeback with the Sathyan Anthikad directorial Makal, talks about working in the Jayaram-starrer, what she had been busy with during the sabbatical and more

  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 08.14 AM, Apr 27, 2022

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Exclusive! Meera Jasmine: The maturity I have gained from my life experiences reflects in my acting in Makal
Meera Jasmine in a still from Makal

In the early 2000s, Meera Jasmine led the way in Malayalam cinema in terms of how a female star can have as much pull as some of the leading actors, who had been in the industry for decades. Through her roles in Achuvinte Amma, Kasthooriman, Vinodayathra, Rasathanthram and Ore Kadal, the actress proved that she could handle any role with ease, and it’s no wonder that she won the National Award for Best Actress just two years after her debut film.

Meera, who has been away from the industry for some time now, is now making her comeback with Sathyan Anthikad’s family entertainer, which is set to hit theatres on April 29. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the actress talks about working in the film, also starring Jayaram and Devika Sanjay, why the vibe of a film set is important to her and what she learnt from the young actors in Makal.

Makal marks your comeback to Malayalam after several years. What was the reason for the break?

I took a sabbatical because I wanted to do other things that I was interested in. Apart from trying out news things, I was running a business. I also got to travel a lot – be it in Dubai or Europe. This was not just for leisure, but also as part of my business. The new experiences that I got to be part of in these years helped me explore another side of myself.

Makal once again has you collaborating with Sathyan Anthikad, whose previous films such as Rasathanthram and Vinodayathra had you in memorable roles that are still discussed because of how different these were. In that sense, how unique is your character in Makal?

The most unique aspect about Makal is that it’s a Sathyan Anthikad film; it’s like going back home to my family. What I missed the most about films the past few years is the positivity and fun that we used to have on his sets. So, I used to frequently think about him during the years I was away and hence I was excited when I was offered the character of Juliet in the film.

Makal is not a film that has a protagonist; there are several key characters and during the narration itself, I could get into the skin of the role I was offered. Also, working in the film gifted me a lot of new moments as I got to perform a lot of emotional sequences that I hadn’t before. Be it acting as a teenager’s mom or other scenes, all of these were closer to reality and I could journey through those moments. That stood out for me.

In Sathyan sir’s films, his characters are very relatable. When I did Achuvinte Amma, Rasathanthram and Vinodayathra, I got to play my age back then and with Makal, I got to do that again.

There were a lot of behind-the-scenes footage from the film sets that were shared which showed you as well as the team had a lot of fun doing the movie. How important is the vibe of a film set for you? And has that changed over the years - starting from your debut film to Makal?

Be it in a film’s set or other places, wherever I go, the vibe of the place is very important to me. I need positivity and I have ensured that this was the case even when I was not part of films. While I was travelling or taking care of business, I have been conscious about having a group of genuine friends who would keep me happy.

It’s the same with Sathyan sir’s film. He welcomed me on the sets with the song Enthu Paranjaalum… from Achuvinte Amma. I was nervous in the beginning, but once I got into the sets, most of them were familiar faces and it immediately took me to my past; I was delighted. I was almost like how I was when I was doing Achuvinte Amma 17 years ago.

On the sets too, I used to hang around, listening to Jayaramettan and Sathyan sir’s yesteryear stories. Also, there’s a young team of Anoop Sathyan and his ADs. So, the set was a mix of two generations and the vibe was almost like that of family and friends. That’s also why I wished the movie didn’t end. I had asked them not to tell me when my last day of shoot was beforehand, because if I knew that, it would be over.

Jayaram is another co-actor you have shared screen space with in the past decade. As actors, how have both of you evolved and reinvented yourselves based on your experience working in this film?

I have not really analysed Jayaram ettan like that. Jayaram ettan is still the same person who I used to see on the sets of Sathyan sir’s previous movies. It’s the same real moments and jokes with him, along with the skill to transform himself to a relatable person for the audience.

Personally, I am returning after a break and so the maturity that I have gained from life experiences reflects in my acting too. The movie was also shot in sync sound, and so I was careful even when paused to take a breath. I didn’t want to be melodramatic because yet there is a certain joy when you act in that moment. These aspects where I have updated myself as a performer, I believe, have also helped in my performance.

Despite it being almost 17 years since you did Achuvinte Amma, you don’t seem to have aged at all. At least that’s what the comments on social media say every time you post a photo.

I just think it’s because I have tried to follow healthy eating habits along with exercise. I do a mix of yoga and Pilates, and because it is now part of my routine, I am reaping the benefits healthwise. If we can become active, even a walk outdoors, it also helps improve our mood and health. If our emotional and physical health is good, everyone will look pretty.

Apart from a set of experienced actors, Makal also has young artistes like Devika Sanjay and Naslen who are starting off in the industry. As someone who too began her career in cinema when you were only 19, how much could you relate to their current phase in the career?

The youngsters these days are well informed and also smart. I closely observed Devika and what I noted was that she was smart and knew how to interact with people, but at the same time she is also emotional. A lot of people don’t have that because some youngsters try to show that way more mature for their age. It’s important for an actor to also think with their heart, and that’s why she impressed me a lot.

Though I don’t have too many scenes with Naslen, when the story was narrated to me, I laughed a lot during his character’s sequences. I believe his character will be noted in the film and from what I have seen, he has effortlessly played that role.

From the beginning phase of your career, you have been an actress who has attracted non-stereotypical roles - be it with Gramophone, Kasthurimaan, Ore Kadal or Paadam Onnu. But lately have the roles that are coming your way changed? Has this also got to do with how Malayalam cinema has changed in the past decade?

Frankly, I haven’t heard a lot of stories because I was away from cinema. But I watch a lot of movies and I am aware of the changes that are happening. I am fortunate that I could work with skilled directors in the beginning of my career and that might have resulted in me getting a lot of roles that weren’t stereotypical. But now the chances of doing such roles are higher because everyone’s more socially aware. A lot of directors are coming with good content and the task is to pick the best among that. I am happy that Malayalam cinema has come so far.

Right now, I don’t have set plans to do a particular type of film or take up certain characters. After the shoot of Makal, I immediately left for Dubai. But I will be taking up non-stereotypical roles that excite me henceforth.

What are your upcoming projects? There is also rumour about you teaming up with Madhavan for a Tamil movie.

Officially, I haven’t committed to any films. Since I am making a comeback, there has been a few discussions for a few big films but I haven’t signed anything as yet.

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