Priya Prakash Varrier tells us why 4 Years is the most creatively satisfying film in her career so far
Director Ranjith Sankar’s upcoming romantic drama 4 Years is a pivotal film for actress and social media influencer Priya Prakash Varrier. Since the clip from Oru Adaar Love went viral, Priya has shot for several Hindi, Kannada and Telugu movies including Check and Vishnupriya. But she has stayed away from Malayalam and that’s one of the reasons she has high hopes pinned on 4 Years, which is set to hit theatres on November 25.
In an exclusive chat with OTTPlay, the 23-year-old actress talks about why this is the most “creatively satisfying movie” in her career so far, how relatable her character of Gayathri is to her and the equation she shares with her co-star Sarjano Khalid, who essays Vishal in 4 Years.
Ranjith Sankar had said that he was in a long hunt for someone to play Gayathri as he wanted someone who was urban in her thoughts and wanted that aspect to come out organically on screen in terms of how the artiste who played her looked. What were your initial thoughts when you read the script?
He first narrated the story to me. That got over in about 20 minutes. But before that, he shared Gayathri and Vishal’s backstories and how their characters pan out, for about one and half hours. After that he told me, ‘None of this will be in the movie’. That’s when I realised that he had thought deep about his characters. Even after that I didn’t get the entire script. He asked me if I could send an audition video by enacting a scene. So, I sent the audition tape and he liked it. That’s when I got the whole script.
He had also mentioned that was one scene in the earlier script that you pointed out was not something Gayathri would do. How relatable was the character to you?
Gayathri is very different from me and at the same time, relatable too. I found it very hard to bifurcate it in the beginning. There aren’t many visible or character differences that you can talk about. It’s just that she's a young girl, who is independent. I can relate to that. Also, people who have fallen in love at least once in their live, will be able to relate to Gayathri and the situations she goes through. She is also someone who believes in the universe and is spiritual in a way.
A lot of campus movies also serve as coming-of-age films. You found fame at an age where you were in college. In that sense, getting to do a movie like this, did it also help you experience the college days or even relive them in a different way?
4 Years isn’t a typical campus film that revolves around friendships and romance. It is basically about the journeys of Vishal and Gayathri. There isn’t much of campus life involved. I had a good time while shooting because I made a lot of friends.
How fulfilling was it to be part of a Malayalam film and that too in a lead role?
It is definitely creatively satisfying. I think this is the first time I have done a film and felt that way. I have worked in Telugu and Kannada, but because I am not familiar with those languages, I am usually not able to improvise or give my inputs. In this film, I was able to do it, especially because Ranjith sir gave me that space and said I could personalise the character. I could creatively give a lot of inputs about Gayathri and make a lot of changes when I wanted to.
As it’s a movie about two characters, the chemistry between the lead pair plays a huge role in engaging the audience to the story. Starting off, was there a workshop or an ice-breaker session between the two?
Not at all, and we didn’t need it either. Initially, when sir told me it would be a newcomer cast against me, I asked him why don’t we have a workshop because it’s pretty intense; these two have been in love for that past four years and they need to know each other inside out. But when sir told it’s Nichu (Sarjano) who is going to be playing the character, I confidently said the workshop was not required. I knew him beforehand; he has been my friend for a long time. It’s just that we weren’t close friends, which we eventually became after the film started. I also think both the characters have come out well because of our give-and-take; there wasn’t any competition. We were both complementing each other and brought out the best in each other.
Because you said that this movie has you creatively more invested than your previous films, how are the jitters before the release?
It’s obviously a special feeling when you are doing a film in your own language. Malayalam cinema is where I want to redeem myself. Here’s where I want people to say that I can act. That’s why I am extremely nervous and anxious about how people are going to accept 4 Years.
What is the status of your upcoming Malayalam movies?
Kolla is almost done. We have finished dubbing; the post production work is going on. It’s going to come out soon. I have started shooting for VK Prakash’s Live.