Anupama Kumar
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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ANUPAMA KUMAR INTERVIEW
Having done around 300 commercials, Anupama Kumar is a familiar face in the ad world. She has featured with Shah Rukh Khan in Santro ad and has worked with legends like Suresh Gopi, Prabhu etc. Anupama made her Kollywood entry in Pokkisham as Cheran’s wife and later as Kishore’s wife and Arulnidhi’s mom in Vamsam. With her kitty full with impressive assignments, Anupama chats with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar.


A brief intro about yourself

Hi, I am Anupama Kumar who has played Kishore’s wife in the flashback sequence in Vamsam and Arulnidhi’s mom in the live sequence. I got into media about 15 years back. Having started my career behind the camera, I learnt the ropes of direction, production in the television segment. I worked as a newsreader and also produced some news with Zee television for two years. About five years back, I got back to my first love - acting. I have done around 300 commercials at the national level. In the regional level, I have done Pothys, Parle G, Nirma, Rin, Parachute etc., to name a few.

How did Pokkisham happen?

I was in Chennai when I saw an ad which said that director Cheran is looking for someone to play mother’s role in his film which is actually his wife’s character in Pokkisham. I am a big fan of Cheran sir and till such time, I had not given a thought to enter film industry. When I contacted him, he saw my pictures and told that I cannot do the role. The ad said that he had auditioned 50 people for this role. Hence I told him that he can try and audition me as 51st person. But he said that the role is for a 60-year-old woman and I will certainly not fit in. Somehow I bulldozed him to audition me. And thanks to his vision, dedication and all our hard work, I was able to convincingly look like a 60-year-old in Pokkisham. Although it was a cameo appearance, it was important to the film.


He told me I cannot do this role




It used to take 5 hours to do the

make up

What was challenging in Pokkisham?

The exciting, interesting and the challenging part in Pokkisham was I got to wear prosthetic make up. My make up was done by Hollywood professionals who did Kamal’s sir’s make up in Dasavatharam. It took 5 hours a day to don the make up for my face, hands, neck. And also the weather conditions would not allow us to shoot for more than two hours. It took many days to shoot those three scenes. It was definitely a unique experience for any actor because there are only very few artists in India who have done such prosthetic make up. I was thrilled to be one among them in my very first film. The role was challenging as I have to change my body language, voice modulation and many other aspects.

After Pokkisham?

After Pokkisham, I did a very small but beautiful role in National Award Winner Vishal Bharathwaj’s Ishqiya

Anandam Aarambam

I did Sai Mira Productions’ Anandam Aarambam with Atharva. The film is not yet complete. But Pokkisham released first.

How did Vamsam happen?

Cheran sir introduced me to Pandiraj who was then basking in the success of his first film Pasanga. It was such an enlightening experience for me as I got to see a different world of creative people who can literally create beautiful stories out of thin air. It was like magic. Pandiraj offered me the role of Meenakshi in Vamsam.

How was it to do a rural character when you are from an urban background?

Initially I was hesitant as my background is urban and north Indian. Although I am a Tamilian, I have never been in Tamil Nadu as my dad was in Air Force and I am married to a naval officer. Hence I was skeptical if I would be able to do the role with a completely different body language and a Pudukottai dialect to go with. But Pandiraj had lots of confidence in me. During the Agni Nakshathiram time, we were shooting in Pudukottai for 60 days at a sweltering temperature of 46°C and it was a different experience for me.

Accolades

There were lots of people calling me without realizing that I was not a native. They all had appreciated my work and the credit goes to Pandiraj sir.

Challenges in Vamsam

Firstly, I had to change my body language according to the region. I made a lot of changes in the way I walk, in the way I move my head and in the way I move my lips to talk. However, the most challenging aspect was I had to portray two different age groups. In the flash back segment, I was first a young unmarried girl and then a newly married woman and then with a small son in hand. In the live sequences I was playing Arulnidhi’s mother, aged around 45-50. We did this in two schedules. First I had to lose weight for the younger version and the entire crew used to tell me to go slow on eating. For the older version, they encouraged me to put on weight. Along with wigs and other accessories, they had given foam padding to make me look fatter. The foam padding increased the heat quotient and many days I have felt that I was going to faint. Staying away from home for long time and that too in a rural set up was very difficult for me.


They encouraged me to put on

weight

How was Arulnidhi to work with?

Although it was grueling shooting for Vamsam and there were instances when you almost wanted to break down and cry, there were also fun moments. Arulnidhi was a delight to work with despite his background. He was much matured and stable for his age. He understood his part very well and worked very hard. Despite being newcomers, we both managed to deliver what Pandi sir desired. After the shoot, Arul was just like any other teenager who would be with his friends and strumming his guitar.



We had a nice time after the

shoots

What about Sunaina?

Sunaina is a wonderful girl. We hit it off instantly as we used to speak in Hindi. She also plays the guitar and we had a nice time after the shoots.

Kishore

I also should mention about Kishore who has become a good friend now. He is such a powerful actor and exuded so much energy into the scene. Initially, I was overawed by Kishore’s presence. But he made it very comfortable for me.


I was overawed by Kishore’s

presence

Any funny incident

In the hotel, where I stayed, people used to think there were two women - mother and daughter - staying in my room because they would see me dressed in sari with an old get up in the morning and in the evening I would return from the shoot in my jeans. That was very funny. I am a techno freak and the villagers used to find it weird to see an old village woman working on lap top and playing music. I also learnt to ride the tanga or the horse-driven vehicle.

Once when my parents visited the spot with my 5-year-old son, villagers thought he was my grandson. It was very funny and at the same time, a big compliment to me because my looks must have been very convincing.

I also had a good time working with Jeyaprakash, assistant director Chaplin who helped with the dialect. I am glad that the film has been appreciated and our hard work has borne rich dividends.

Projects post-Vamsam?

I have done two films post-Vamsam and both of them are due for release. Ayyanar, produced by Thenappan with Adhi as the hero, is about the relationship between a mother and her two sons. I have completed Rayappan’s Aadupuli which is a wholesome family entertainer. The cast has stalwarts like Ravichandran, KR Vijaya, Prabhu, Suresh and the hero and heroine Aadhi and Poorna.



It was a matter of pride to have

danced with Prabhu

On Prabhu

Prabhu is such a great person and despite his star status made everyone comfortable and feel welcomed. It was a privilege, honor and a pleasure to work with Prabhu. And it was a matter of pride to have danced with Prabhu.

What kind of films are you looking out for?

The very fact that I have joined the industry so late is only because of my passion for the medium. I don’t consider this as a profession but a passion. Commercials are my profession. Hence I want to do films which have heart, films that I can relate to and films where I would not be typecast. That’s why it is taking some time. After watching Vamsam, I am being offered similar roles. I am talking to many new age directors who are willing to think out of the box. Like how Pandi sir reinvented me, I hope to meet directors who would reinvent me.

As you are based in Delhi, don’t you think you may miss out on the buzz here?

Yes, in a way. It is disadvantageous when I have to be away from my family for a long time. But the advantage is that I get only the best offers. And also, I have friends like Rekhs, who did the subtitling for Endhiran and Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya who helps me out. There is always Cheran sir who gives me guidance as I am new to the industry.

How was it to have worked with Shah Rukh Khan?

The best thing about my profession is that I get to meet the great icons of the industry. I did Santro ad with Shah Rukh Khan and I understood why some people remain ordinary and some people scale great peaks. These people are all superb human beings who are very extra ordinary. Shah Rukh is highly dedicated to his profession and at the same time very very down-to-earth. When I landed on the sets, he knew everything about me. My son was just 3 months old at that time. He understood my need as a new mom and gave me a separate caravan, arranged a maid for me. He knew my name, my husband’s profession. He gave me breaks every half an hour to be with my baby. These are the traits that distinguish the legends from ordinary men.

Suresh Gopi

I have also done a Telugu film called Aa Okkadu with Suresh Gopi. He is a man with golden heart. All sorts of people would approach him and he would not only be generous with money but also with his time.

Cheran

Working with Cheran was such an eye opener for me. His dedication and eye for details besides being an extremely nice human being are qualities to look up to. He has toiled so much for Pokkisham. When I worked in Pokkisham, I understood many aspects of film making.

On a closing note

I think I am blessed to have worked with such legends that are so humble. My forthcoming ad film is with Mithun Chakravarthy who is again a multiple National Award winner. I am looking to do good and satisfying work in future.

Tags : Anupama Kumar, Pandiraj, Vamsam, Arulnidhi, Kishore, Prabhu
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