As an actress, for me, no two days are the same. Some are harder than the others. However, they are all productive and gratifying. I’ll pick a random day to describe- this past Saturday, when we were shooting for the movie “Rainbow Wedding”.
I began my day at 3 in the afternoon when the lighting outside was perfect and my director Parthiban Shanmugam could not have been any happier with the weather gods to make his scene shine. It was an outdoor shoot. I drove out to our first set location with my costume, hair and first layer of foundation on.
Our next scene consisted of a bridal shoot in a suburban home. I had to change my entire make-up and costume. The production team organized the lights and set. Lights… camera… action, and a number of takes later we again got several great shots. Of course by then it was 1 am and we still had two more scenes to do!
None of us on the set really worry about the hours spent. We’ve waited long enough to perform these scenes and we want them, well, nothing short of perfection. It was 3 am by the time we completed the penultimate scene of the day. For this scene, we needed a sunrise behind a temple background and only one actor, which is me this time. It actually worked out nicely that sunrise was only three hours away. My director and team went home. I took a 2-hour nap. I was up at 6 am, took a shower, reapplied my make-up, wore my costume and drove out to the temple location. I was ready in my position and as soon as the sun came out, my director rolled the camera. Within a few takes… it was a wrap. It was now Sunday and I could go on with the rest of my day feeling completely satisfied.
I’m pursuing a career that I’m truly passionate about! The sets I’ve been on so far have been very focused, professional and have had a fun-friendly atmosphere. Everyone is part of the team. I don’t think any team can function properly without having everyone’s cooperation. Fortunately, not only have I been part of teams with great professional cooperation, I have also had the opportunity to enjoy their friendships on and off the sets. I think it is very important to have a connection with your cast members. Disagreements within the group can always be argued professionally. However, dislike can create too much personal emotional stress, which is always unhealthy for the actor trying to live through another human being’s emotions.
I do mostly take the method acting approach with the characters I play.
For example, the role I’m currently playing is an educated South Indian girl from Madras. Even though I grew up in South India as a little girl and am familiar with many traditions from there, to capture a character from a Tamilian upper-middle class home demanded study. I started by gaining a general body of knowledge about the region and then broke in slowly to my character. I first began by watching several Tamilian movies and watched how the girls were portrayed and acted. I noted everything, from their mannerisms to costume. I researched the society, the specific communities, how a woman is raised to be the way she is in such a household. Then I started with my specific family and me (I’m speaking about my character). What do I dream of? What are my hobbies? What are my habits... do I bite my nails? Twirl my hair? Make a funny face after I eat… okay now I’m just being goofy... But after all, we all know each one of us has our peculiarities: subtleties that usually only our close friends can point out. That’s what gives life to a character. Only then is he/she a person and someone the audience recognizes. Once I begin living her, then all my reactions to actions come naturally whether in scenes I’m frolicking in the fountains or I’m breaking down in tears.
At times during the shoot, I am definitely concerned about my performance in scenes and I apply myself completely in order for them to go well. However, I do not allow myself to become stressed because it only hinders the performance on screen. Yes, I definitely lose my identity on the sets. That’s my job.
I have always been very comfortable on stage and performance has been my passion for a long time. Through high school and college, I continuously participated in cultural festivals choreographing dances, singing and acting. Being a compassionate and hard-working person, I felt that perhaps being a physician would give me the resources to pursue my performing arts career later in life.
However, performing arts came first to my heart … and I decided to prioritize. I had been training in Carnatic music throughout college under talented Dr. Prema Bhat and after I graduated, I went to India to train further with the esteemed Lalgudi Rajalaxmi Maami for four months. I came back refreshed, energized and most importantly carried new found courage. I auditioned for an Indian TV pilot show being held in Atlanta, got the lead role and decided that this was it!
Apart from my passion for music, I love to read books especially exciting mystery novels, ones about the South Asian Diaspora or about
religion/history. I love to dance. I’m currently learning Kuchipudi but I have also dabbled in flamenco and hip-hop. It’s fun.
Ours is a very cosmopolitan Indian-American family. We migrated to the US over 15 years ago. My father hails from North India while my mom is from the South. Between my mom and my dad’s direct family, I have uncles and aunts who hail from 11 states of India: right from Jammu to Palghat in
Kerala. I have been fortunate to have first hand exposure of seeing and growing up with people, cultures and languages in different parts of India. Its great fun, and has been very enriching to my understanding of people.
I was born in Bangalore and studied in Goa and Cochin till part of the elementary school. Thereafter, through middle and high school I studied
in Chicago, Gainesville FL, Albany NY. Finally, I recently graduated
from Emory University in Atlanta.
I have found my niche in acting. Currently, apart from the lead in
high profile NY based Shanmugam's ‘Rainbow Wedding’,
I also wrapped as a lead in an Indian TV serial pilot in August called ‘Saathi’ which is being marketed to several Indian channels as we speak. I am also involved with three local Atlanta short film projects to be filmed over the next couple months.
Where do I see myself five years from now? I see myself an internationally acknowledged leading actress doing character-based roles!