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Friday, June 14, 2024

I am excited about experimenting

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Anupama Parameswaran is all set to unleash her sassy, badassy avatar as Lilly in Tillu Square. She gives us a peek into what she is like in real life

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It’s been nine years since she entered movies and with a spate of exciting releases lined up this year, the curly-haired Anupama Parameswaran is already on cloud nine. The actor with 20 movies in Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil to her credit is known, not just for her gorgeous South Indian looks,
but also for her acting. In 2015, she was a simple Thrissur girl studying in Class 11. She casually went for a casting call after coming across the announcement on an actor’s social media page and the rest was history. She got picked up for the iconic character of Mary in Premam.
The movie (which also marked the debut of Sai Pallavi in 2015) changed her life so much that even her house in Kerala is named Premam! From a middle-class Mallu girl to a sultry siren in the South, she has had an eventful cinematic journey. As her badass role of Lilly in the much-anticipated Valentine’s Day release Tillu Square (opposite Siddhu Jonnagalagadda) this season gets talked about, WOW! catches the spirited actor in a chatty mood.

What does 2024 look like?
Hectic and exciting. I have Eagle (with Ravi Teja) and Tillu Square around the corner. I also have a Tamil and
Malayalam movie each. In Telugu, I am working on two movies, one directed by Praveen Kandregula and one by Prashanth Verma. That’s a good place to be, right?

Radhika (played by Neha Shetty in DJ Tillu) is an iconic character and it struck a chord with the audience. Will Radhika continue to be so iconic in this movie?
My character is called Lilly and takes off where Radhika left. Neha Shetty has set a benchmark with Radhika and now I have to match it. All I can say is that Anupama is not a cute girl anymore.

Aah, so are you the bad girl in Tillu Square?
I am the swag girl! Perhaps, Lilly will even face a backlash for exploring and experimenting with the bold character. Her character goes beyond the cleavage and the navel you see in the trailer. Fingers crossed!

What has your transition as an actor and as a person been like in the past nine years?
I look more for versatility and I am excited about experimenting. At the time when I was doing mainstream commercial cinema, I opted to do an offbeat short film called Freedom at Midnight in 2021 – about a wife who seeks sexual freedom. That gamble paid off as people noticed the actor in me. As a person, I can now tell
my mother not to accompany me for my shoots. I can handle my life like a pro –from my shoot dates to finances and even the creepy men.

Do you need different and intense preparation for such out-of-the-box roles? What is your process?
I learn my lines, understand the arch of the character, but I give my best when I am on the actual set and the director calls out ‘action’. My co-stars, the set, the vibe and the whole landscape helps me feel the character and live it.

Did touching 15 million on Instagram help?
Yes, all through 2023, when I had no releases, I was in touch with my followers through a lot of unfiltered
moments. The downside, however, is that they see a relatable, girl next door in my Insta feed and they get offended when they see me in intimate scenes. It’s almost like seeing your next-door neighbor in an intimate scene.

What do you love and hate about being an actor?
I love that every day I get to meet interesting new people, travel; and the respect, recognition and love I get
from being an actor. I hate that actors can’t show their real emotions in public life. I am probably having a bad day at a village shoot and don’t feel like the warm person they see on screen when they ask me for a selfie. But I don’t have the liberty to show my disinterest or fatigue, because sometimes fans tend to come after travelling hundreds of kilometers and may have been waiting for a few hours to get a glimpse of me. I will have to be my best despite my emotions at that point of time. Anyway, you win some, you lose some.

What’s the real Anupama like at home?
At home, I am wearing a nine-year-old tattered T-shirt with a hole pyjamas with loose elastic and a messy bun. Back home, my mother expects me to come down the steps of my room in a pattu pavadai like a princess, but she gets Anupama looking like a street urchin. Even when she makes a video call from Kerala, I have to conceal what I am wearing or she will go ballistic. Moms will be moms.

What is a day off in the life of Anupama like?
I don’t employ a full-time maid. When I’m at home, I find joy in maintaining the cleanliness, handling laundry, and tending to the plants. Unlike someone who prefers the gym, I’ve never set foot in one. Yet, I excel in gardening. A few years back, I shed eight kilos while planting mango saplings, nurturing jackfruit plants, and caring for banana plants – embracing the role of a skilled gardener/farmer.

Here’s one of the most Googled questions about you… Are those curls real?
Absolutely! But none of the Telugu or Tamil directors want my curly hair. Every day, I had to iron it for other movies. In 2019, I decided I didn’t want to work with directors who didn’t want my original hair. I come with my curls, deal with it. Good hair days only for me from now.

QUICK TAKE
• THREE HASHTAGS THAT DEFINE YOU: #Passionate #Loving #Honest
• YOUR LIFE SO FAR IN ONE LINE: A butterfly that took its own path
• WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGH POINT IN YOUR LIFE: Deciding to do a short film as a mainstream actor
• WHERE DOES ONE FIND YOU HANGING OUT WHEN YOU ARE IN HYDERABAD: Home
• YOUR GO-TO KERALA FOOD JOINTS IN HYDERABAD: Akson, Pathemari, Hanwin and Aniyayees

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