In an exclusive interview with OTTPlay, Santhi spoke about her upcoming film Neru and her experience working with Mohanlal and Jeethu Joseph.
Santhi Mayadevi | Photo: Instagram/ santhi_mayadevi
Popular among Malayalis for her role as Georgekutty's lawyer in Drishyam 2, actress Santhi Mayadevi is making her screenplay writing debut with Jeethu Joseph’s Neru. The actress, who made her acting debut in Ganagandharvan, has also played roles in Vijay’s Leo, Naalam Mura, and Jeethu’s next film, Ram.
The courtroom drama, starring Mohanlal, Sidhique, Jagadish, Priyamani, and Anaswara Rajan, will hit the big screen on December 21. In an exclusive interview with OTTPlay, Santhi spoke about Neru and her experience working with Mohanlal and Jeethu Joseph.
Can you describe Neru in a few words?
Neru is a straightforward courtroom drama devoid of any suspense or investigation. The culprit is revealed at the beginning of the film. The subsequent court proceedings form the rest of the movie.
The combination of Mohanlal and Jeethu Joseph has worked wonders at the box office. Were you anxious about the expectations for the pair?
When word spreads of a project involving Jeethu Joseph, Mohanlal, and Aashirvad Cinemas, expectations are high. I felt obligated to live up to these standards. I didn't tense up, though, when I was asked to tell the story. I think that stress or fear make things more difficult for us. Jeethu Sir shared the one-liner with Antony Perumbavoor, and we narrated the story to Mohanlal during the filming of Ram in the UK.
You are a lawyer. Is the film based on any real-life incidents?
No, but the majority of the actions and mindsets displayed by the judge and lawyers are modelled after the actual people I have seen in court. It is a battle of emotions within the courtroom. I believe I have managed to convey a sufficient amount of those feelings in this film.
How long have you been planning and working for Neru?
For the previous ten years, Jeethu Sir had dreamed of working on a courtroom drama. He told me about a thread he was thinking of. We had long discussions about it every time we met, even at our family get-togethers. I had a lot on my plate, both personally and professionally. But I had an accident that left me with a leg injury, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. I made use of that time to peacefully work on the script. The screenplay took more than two years to complete.
It was also fortunate for us to receive Mohanlal's dates sooner than we expected. We spent 48 days filming in Trivandrum and 2 days in Kochi.
Were you always passionate about acting in films?
When I was a child, I used to dream of playing in a movie and seeing Mohanlal and Mammootty on screen. That thought would have crossed anyone's mind at some point in their life. After doing a few shows for Asianet and Amrita Channel, I finally turned my attention to my family and pursued a legal career.
Ramesh Pisharody is a close friend of mine, and he offered me a chance in his directorial, Ganagandharvan. Eventually, Drishyam 2 came up, which I was really excited about, and Jeethu Sir’s Ram. It has been an unexpected yet delightful journey.
Given the calibre of actors who are currently working in the industry, I don't think of myself as an ambitious actor. I was amazed and forced to reconsider my acting abilities after watching Anaswara Rajan in this movie. I believe it is time for me to give acting a serious look.
On OTT platforms, courtroom-based series are also becoming increasingly popular. Would you like to work in a Malayalam one?
Malayalam has a good space for such series. A courtroom is a happening place on any day; some incidents may be extremely serious, while others involve something that we have never heard of before. I believe people would love to see those stories. I would love to work on one someday, but now I am curious to know the audience's response to Neru.