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Exclusive! Nazriya Fahadh: I don’t think I have the first-timer’s advantage with Ante Sundaraniki

The Bangalore Days, Neram actress opens up about her Telugu debut opposite Nani and tells us she was never treated like an outsider on the sets

  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 05.04 PM, Jun 09, 2022

Exclusive! Nazriya Fahadh: I don’t think I have the first-timer’s advantage with Ante Sundaraniki

Very rarely does a debutant experience a warm welcome from the industry, as much as Nazriya Fahadh, even before a film release. Nazriya may be a familiar face in Malayalam and Tamil, but she will have her first Telugu film Ante Sundaraniki hitting theatres this weekend.

Surprisingly, Nazriya has her own fan base in the Telugu land with her dubbed films Trance, Raja Rani, enjoying immense popularity. Not many know that Bangalore Days had an extensive run in Hyderabad too and Nazriya’s presence was a good reason for viewers to hit theatres repeatedly.

So did Nazriya even feel like a newcomer on the sets of the Nani starrer Ante Sundaraniki? We find out from the actress herself, as she interacts with

Are you genuinely tired of the word ‘comeback’ these days? Ante Sundaraniki is only your third film after marriage in over 8 years.

I am not sure of it (the comeback word) myself because I’ve been taking these long breaks and still fortunately people want to see me on screen again. Whenever I receive this grand welcome, the ‘comeback’ feeling is gone completely.

No one suggested I take a break because I am married to a film actor and my father-in-law is a director too. There was never a case of missing the limelight. I had the confidence that I could come back anytime and do a film. It’s been a long that I’ve heard something as good as Ante Sundaraniki.

You’ve been in the news regularly for rejecting scripts left, right and centre…

Many think I’ve heard a lot of scripts, but I got a few of them and I liked Ante Sundaraniki the most among them. Every script that I listen to, I am never conscious of the fact that it’s Telugu or a Tamil film. Only when I finished listening to it, did I worry about learning a new language.

I am a very normal viewer when I’m listening to the script and I was experiencing a flurry of emotions as I listened to Ante Sundaraniki. The film is funny, emotional and entertaining but there’s more to it beyond the lighthearted exterior - it has depth and a soul. A viewer rarely carries the vibe of a commercial film back home. I genuinely want to do good films and convince the audiences with the character I play.

You’ve been a child artiste too. Were you tired of films and the rat race when you took a sabbatical from the industry?

I got married early but I only worked for a couple of years in films before that. People assume otherwise because I starred in a lot of films during that time. I was enjoying my marital life, probably a little too much. Fahadh used to ask me what was I doing when I was not listening to scripts? I was content in settling down, making my home. Maybe because I’ve been a child artiste, did films, TV, maybe I just needed a break. I wanted something else from life.

Many presume that actresses may not return to acting after marriage. I wasn’t listening to scripts every day. People were scared to approach me and I didn’t know why! Whatever excited me before doesn’t excite me now. When they come up with similar scripts, my options are very less. You grow up, evolve, and cinema has changed over time. That’s why it looks like I’m very choosy. Neither I take everything that comes my way nor am I too picky.

Before your marriage, did it worry you that a lot of roles that you got were an extension of your off-screen persona?

I did think about it but I can’t blame the directors completely for that. It’s probably because they saw me in such roles in the past. Those who know me personally get it that many of my initial roles were an extension of my off-screen personality. I love when people challenge me - say like a Trance. I was shocked that someone could imagine me in that role; I almost said, ‘Are you sure you’re narrating this to me?’ That’s what excites me the most now. When I continue to do those cute, bubbly roles, even audiences wouldn’t appreciate it. I am a happy person generally, so you can’t take that aspect away from a role.

Do films creep into your dinner conversations more often than not? Doesn’t it get exhausting beyond a point?

Of course, I and Fahadh discuss films a lot. We work in this profession and even if we come back home and discuss cinema, it gets exhausting. We try to keep cinema aside in our discussions but of course, we have our good and bad days and films find their way into our conversations in some form.

And now, we are coincidentally entering Telugu cinema at the same time, one has to ask if our producers Mythri Movie Makers were behind this! We also want to act together again, yes, but I don’t want it to be the typical husband and wife story or love story. Like Bangalore Days or Trance, we are together but our chemistry is very unique.

It looks like you had a ball working on the Ante Sundaraniki promo song...

I may look like I am a person who’s excited about dancing but trust me I am very nervous about it - my legs are always trembling during a song shoot. The choreographer keeps pushing me but I have my limitations. My strength is that I can make people believe that I can dance. Dance doesn’t come naturally to me. I get more nervous when I am in the company of a good dancer like Nani. People were extra kind to me on sets and even encourage me when a step went wrong, not wanting to upset me. I managed to look like I am having fun.

Tell us a little about Leela Thomas in Ante Sundaraniki...

I am not like Leela at all. Unlike me, she isn’t as enthusiastic and lively as me and thinks before she talks and is mature. At the same time, there’s an innocence and vulnerability about her. Leela Thomas has many layers to her. One day Vivek would come to me and say, ‘she is breaking inside but you can’t cry.’ It was challenging to show and hide layers of her personality.

The presence of Nani would’ve been an additional source of motivation to sign Ante... Was it?

Of course, I knew that when Nani takes up a project, there will be worth in it. I have watched Jersey and many of his films in the past. Nani and I became good friends and he is the kind of actor without any aura or airs. He doesn’t see himself as a star and it was easy to bond with him; not once has he made me feel like an outsider.

Even if a scene didn’t work out well, Nani would always tell ‘super, now do something more!’ He took extra care of me in the film because he was the one to make me listen to Vivek’s script. He knew I wasn’t keen on films but wanted me to give this script a chance and here I’m! As an actor, you are as good as those you’re surrounded by. He and veterans like Nadhiya, and Naresh were so honest about their craft and I just had to react to them. In many ways, Ante Sundaraniki felt like my first film.

A film is good as its director and Vivek Athreya is certainly one terrific talent here…

Vivek Athreya is one director whom I’ll give open dates to. Any day that he calls me, I’ll come and do a film for him. I committed to this film within a single narration without watching any of his previous films. He is one of the most honest directors I’ve seen; he doesn’t try to impress. Even in the film, you’ll notice that not a single comedy scene or dialogue in the film is inserted just for the sake of it - there’s a purpose to everything. He has so many stories going on in his head. Henceforth, I’ll watch every Vivek Athreya film, first-day first show. He’s one director I’ll wait for his next call.

You’ve gone a step ahead to dub for it too...

Dubbing felt a little easier because I worked with a translator Divya much before the film started and I rehearsed the entire script with her. I didn’t learn only my dialogues but also went through the lines of my co-actors to understand the scene better. While my translator told me the meaning of the entire line, I would bug her with doubts about every word, right from an ‘ante’ to an ‘ila’ or ‘ala’. I prepared a lot of it much before the shoot.

I believe 50% of a performance comes through the voice, especially in the mood you say your lines. My heart breaks if the voice artist doesn’t capture the mood of a particular dialogue the way I envision it on set. They may do a good job but I end up feeling that I didn’t do my job thoroughly. I am very particular about dubbing for myself.

What are your major takeaways from the Ante Sundaraniki experience?

I feel when it comes to creativity, all our industries are the same. It boils down to the script and the people you work with. I’ll miss being part of such teams but I hope to hear good scripts. Genuinely, I want to do a Telugu film as quickly as possible.

Butterflies in your stomach again this Friday?

I am slightly tense because people are not seeing Ante Sundaraniki as Nazriya’s first film. I don’t think I have the newcomer advantage here. They have already accepted me and are confident in my abilities. I am slightly worried if people will talk about my Telugu and though the team may feel I’ve done a good job, I am clueless about how it went.