SHATTERING STEREOTYPES - PARVATHY
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She strongly believes that ‘Bold’ is an adjective that has been callously used time and again to
portray confident women – “Being confident about expressing one’s feelings or opinions must be the norm and not something that’s ‘extraordinary’…!” A champion of ‘Equal Rights for All’, she
has fiercely stood by her beliefs even when they were termed ‘scandalous’. With no pedigree
in Cinema, her struggles and battles have moulded her into an incredible actor who dares to
think differently! We had a candid conversation with Parvathy Thiruvoth Kottuvata, who is
busy churning out back to back blockbuster hits across South Indian and Bollywood Cinema!
HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED AFTER A CONTINUOUS REEL OF SUPER HITS?
It’s changed for the better. Commercial success comes with a lot of positive aspects - there is definitely more recognition and visibility now. But there is also this fear of being branded into a
certain category of characters. I would like to portray characters that are from a variety of societal contexts and not just different versions of ‘bold women’ as people tend to put it. I find growth as an actor only when I get to investigate each charater and their backgroud this way.
Things that disturb me about commercial success is that you get put into an “image” or are seen as a star which leads to unnecessary and unrealistic expectations about the way you are expected to conduct yourself in public. You find it very very difficult to be the true unfiltered you!
Seven years into my career, though I won critical acclaim for my films, there was a period in my life when my phone never rang! But I always had this arrogant faith that if I did good work, it will come back to me - basic Karma. So when I didn’t have projects, I just stayed at home, studied and used the time to complete my educational courses. I was on the verge of bankruptcy when I got through the audition for Mariyaan. So when finally, movies turned out to be hits, I was
terrified at the way my phone was ringing.
Though I was thankful and overwhelmed, I was least prepared for it! After the initial shock of it, now I know that it is ok to take a break before I move on. You still have to plant your feet firmly into the ground or you can be plucked out easily and you would have nowhere to go.
It is still the same process no matter how many “hits”, after Mariyaan, I took a break of seven months before signing up Bangalore days. Ten months after Charlie is when I started working on Take off. I am on that recharge period as we speak as well.
I respect what commercial success can do for a project in terms of recognition and visibilty. However, it will always remain secondary to the success that comes through in terms of hitting the right note with the audience.
OF THE 20 FILMS YOU HAVE DONE ACROSS MALAYALAM, TAMIL, KANNADA AND NOW HINDI FILM INDUSTRY, THE MOST CHALLENGING ROLE WOULD BE…
Every single movie has taken a little life out of me but at the same time, that’s how I would like to burn my life. Travelling with each role and spending a little bit of me on it. It’s very hard but only through this do I reap the actual benefit of my craft. Understanding humanity. I want the way I engage in my craft to make a difference in the society. For the better. I wish for the way I live, to be a true reflection of what I believe in and have that reflect in the art I co-create.
YOU HAVE OPENLY TALKED ABOUT THE MOST TABOO THINGS LIKE THE CASTING COUCH AND GENDER INEQUALITY AT WORK, DON’T YOU FEEL IT WOULD AFFECT YOU NEGATIVELY?
I don’t have any inhibitions because nobody is indispensable. Cinema will continue even without me and I will find some other form of work. Power play and politics will only go so far. No matter what the consequence, I will keep putting my best foot forward. When you start telling the truth, you start building skin made of titanium. At the end of the day, it is impossible for me to stay within rigid walls and not do anything about it. I create my own work, in the sense, those who choose to work with me, will be coming to me for the right reasons now. It is a good filtering mechanism.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THAT NOISE AND ‘REBEL’? HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER TO STAY QUIET AND HAVE PEACE OF MIND?
There is a difference between talking ‘to’ someone and talking ‘at’ someone. I don’t engage in a conversation with someone who doesn’t listen to me or if I feel I am not listening to them. There are several people like me, who believe in ‘Live and Let Live’. I would like to quote Albert Camus, “Sometimes your very existence is an act of rebellion!” Being true to yourself, is the biggest revolution you can spearhead. You are creating your own path despite having a society that would much rather conform you into categories that is comforting for a majority. If it were not for those wonderful artists of the bygone era who created art and made a statement with their life, I wouldn’t be here in my profession now. Who defines ‘normal’? Who defines ‘crazy’? It’s us and it’s my responsibility to posterity that I stay true, that I create noise when there is injustice. Being quiet just adds to the chaos, it’s a much bigger problem than people who voice their opinion. The quiet ones live their entire life living off other’s enslavement and blaming others. I can’t sleep at night seeing myself as that kind of a parasite in the society. I may never benefit from any of these fights but I know years from now, the future generation will benefit from it. Just like how a Mathura or a Bhanwari Devi who never benefitted from the rape law at their time, but we are enjoying the fruits of their struggles and persistence.
AFTER THE RECENT SHOCKING INCIDENT OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF AN ACTRESS IN KERALA, DO YOU THINK THINGS HAVE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER IN THE INDUSTRY?
It is changing. Things will definitely not remain the same. People have started talking and educating themselves a lot more about it and there are active campaigns. It’s a slow process and it might take years before any visible change is felt. We are up against of decades of hard core patriarchy, which will not change overnight. What people need to understand is that we are not against anybody, we are just asking for equal existence. We just wish to start the process and pass on the baton to the future generation.
YOUR BOLLYWOOD OUTING… QAREEB QAREEB SINGLE!
It didn’t feel like the typical Bollywood type cinema at all! I don’t think I am cut out for the space of candy floss love stories in general let alone the kind you see in Bollywood. I would have to change a lot of things about myself to fit in and I wouldn’t want to do that. QQS is a romantic comedy directed by Tanuja Chandra. She has always portrayed strong female characters in her films and for me, to do a female lead in her movie with Irfaan Khan was a big challenge. The experience was a roller-coaster ride butwas very rewarding.
Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum is a Tamil film by Vasanth. It is basically three short stories written by Tamil writers. I finished my part of the story in five days with a crew of 15 people but it’s still under production. The Mollywood movie titled ‘My Story’ with Prithviraj is also under
MAYBE BECAUSE I AM FROM A SPORTS BACKGROUND, I DON’T GIVE UP EASILY. I AM A FIGHTER.
From being a Grade A student, she went on to win the Miss Madras (1999) title and dazzled the nation with her killer s Read More
She strongly believes that ‘Bold’ is an adjective that has been callously used tim Read More