Interviewer : Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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The film Pachai Engira Kaathu will be released soon and its heroine Devadai spoke to
A brief intro

I am Devadai, the heroine of Pachai Engira Kaathu directed by Keera who is responsible for my entry into this film. He had seen my photo and asked me to come to Trichy. He did not ask me any questions when he saw me and asked me to get ready for photoshoot.

Where are you from?

I am from Kerala and I am not fluent in Tamil. Please forgive me if I make mistakes while talking in Tamil. I am learning to speak in Tamil.

Have you acted in any other film?

This is my first film and I feel this is the right entry for me into filmdom. I could not have asked for a better opportunity than this. My character in Pachai Engira Kaathu is a strong one. Generally a heroine’s role is very limited in a film especially in a debut one. But in PEK, I have equal footage as the hero. There is a suspense element attached to my role. I cannot much divulge about it now. I cannot speak fluently in Tamil but if I am speaking to you like this, it is only because of PEK team, its director, cameraman and hero. I owe everything to my director.

I owe everything to my director.

I did not do anything special for PEK

What is the homework you did for PEK?

I did not do anything special for PEK. I was thrilled when heard the story and started thinking, eating, sleeping the film. Although I had a particular vision, the moment I landed at the shooting spot, I did whatever the director told me. I was not able to do what I had planned.  My entry into Kollywood is not planned. I was doing small roles in Television in Kerala and was a college going student. Although my friends and teachers encouraged me to try films, I used to wonder why they say that. However, I was always in the forefront in any cultural event and perhaps that confidence has enabled me to try my luck in films. I don’t know what made the director give such an important role to me. I have done my best in the film. I hope the audience would support me and pray for the film to succeed as all of us are new and have all worked hard.

Which is the toughest scene in the film?

All the scenes were tough in the film as I am new to the film industry. I had tried to give in my best as per the director’s instructions. As mentioned earlier, my role was as important as that of the hero’s and some of the scenes were physically demanding too. It is difficult to pinpoint one scene as the toughest one.

Any risky scene?

A scene that had all of us in tenterhooks was the one in which they take heroine’s body from a 150 feet deep well. My mom who had accompanied me to the shoot got very jittery and went away to the car. My heartbeat was at its peak. I don’t know how I got the courage to do the scene. I should only thank my director, cameraman and the entire crew.

My heartbeat was at its peak

The entire crew is

Tamil except for me

How did you manage to act like a Tamil girl?

I am from Kerala and Tamil culture is entirely new to me although I do see Tamil television channels. I was with the PEK team for two months and the director always insisted that I speak only in Tamil, walk like a Tamil girl and behave like one. Although it was difficult for me initially, I realize that this has helped me to deliver the goods in the film and speak to you in Tamil now. The entire crew is Tamil except for me.

Where did you shoot?

Chettikulam, a beautiful village is where most of my scenes were shot. People of this village were extremely hospitable, treated me like their daughter and took good care of me. My special thanks to them.

About the realistic feel of the film?

Director was very keen about the realistic feel of the film. When I went to the first day of the shoot with make up, he asked me to wash my face and come. Even kajal was forbidden. Not only me but all the artists were asked to be only natural. Glycerin was unavailable at shooting locales. We all have behaved our roles and did not act. We had an orientation program of sorts by the director before commencing the film which was very helpful especially to me as I am very new to Tamil Nadu and its culture.

Glycerin was unavailable at

shooting locales

Any memorable incident?

One day we were shooting in a hilly area and it was an emotional scene where I was expected to cry. Much as I try, I was not able to cry and there was no glycerin at the sets. There were no nearby shops to get glycerin. The light was fading away fast and we needed to wrap for the day. That was the first time I saw the director in tension. Finally, someone fetched onions from a vegetable shop and peeling it brought tears to my eyes. It was a different experience for me.

You are Devadai

What is your real name?

My name is Saranya and as there are many Saranyas in the industry, we decided to change. The director was keen that I only have a Tamil name. I searched for a suitable name everywhere and used to call the director everyday to suggest various names. But one day he called me and said “You are Devadai” and that’s about it. I also like this name.

Differences between the cultures of Kerala and Tamil Nadu

I find culture of Tamil Nadu different from Kerala. I am familiar with Kathakali and such related items. Thiruvizha, Therukoothu, Themmangu and Tholpaavai koothu of Tamil Nadu are all new to me. In fact I learnt all these names only now. Although I am vaguely familiar with Tamil culture through TV, PEA gave me a chance to have a feel of the same. It was an all new experience for me. I am so amazed by the numerous art forms that exist in Tamil Nadu. I feel too small before these talented people who are well versed in different art forms.

About your role in PEK

I am extremely lucky to play double role in my very first film. As a heroine, it is such a matter of pride. The two characters are extremely different and it was important to differentiate between the two. PEK is based on a real life incident and director told about this to me in the last schedule. There was a person by name Pachai and the film is about him. Then I asked him if my characters were also real to which the director replied in affirmative. I was shell shocked hearing this and kept repeatedly asking the director if he was saying the truth. There are so many questions in my mind about these characters that are still fresh in my memory. All in all it was a great experience working in PEK and I ask all the audience to go to theatre and watch the film and encourage all of us.

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