Samyukta- I thought that I should return to Tamil only through a good character. It has been fulfilled with ‘Vaathi’.
On meeting the vibrant and charming Vaathi heroine Samyukta, the first thing she addresses is her name. “Please don't call me Samyukta Menon. I don't want to include any caste name. My name in the title card of this film is mentioned as ‘Samyuktha’. We can't do anything about what the adults have done when we enrol in school. Now it's our choice to change it. I can't say anything about other stars adding caste names to their names like this. This is my personal opinion. "
A heroine who is making a mark in several sounthern language films, apparently it is her love for Tamil that attracted this Palakkad bred girl to this industry. She says with heightened passion, "Tamil has been my favourite language since my youth. Especially as a kid, I became very interested in Tamil through ‘Mustafa Mustafa’ song. After that I started listening to more Tamil songs. So far I have never heard lyrics in any other language as sweet as Tamil. Tamil is the only language with the most melodious lyrics."
But she has a regret, "Even for this film I wanted to dub in Tamil myself. Though I tried really hard, due to some reasons like my shooting schudules, I could not proceed with dubbing."
Speaking about prepping for the bi-lingual she reveals, "Although my first language is Malayalam, I know both Tamil and Telugu languages. During the shoot, I would first prepare myself for speaking Tamil dialogues for my character, and after the scene was finished, I would prepare myself again for Telugu dialogues."
How was it working with Dhanush? " There was some tension when acting with a great actor like Dhanush because he is an artist who does OK in a single take! I was careful not to disturb him. Even if there were few mistakes, Dhanush encouraged me without focussing on any errors."
Speaking about the gap in her Tamil movies she admits, "I acted in a few films in Tamil a few years ago, which was a childish decision. I thought that I should return to Tamil only through a good character."
Her patience seems to have paid off , with a meaty role in Vaathi, "It has been fulfilled with ‘Vaathi’. In this film, I play the role of a biology teacher named Meenakshi, who has a lot of fun with the students. For this, I kept in mind Deepa, a teacher with similar characteristics who taught me when I was in school. I kept her as a role model and expressed myself in the same way while enacting the role."
Coming to the topic of the film, she delves into a few personal experiences as well, "In this film we have addressed some problems in the education system. In my personal life my school period was a bad experience. I could see that people who studied with me were very skilful in different subjects but they were stumbling in their studies. Even the girl who studied engineering completed it and joined her field of dance. I have also studied only till plus two. I came here because I was interested in cinema. Personally, I don't believe in being told that having a degree means we can find the job we want. But while acting in this film, I was very surprised to realize how much education brings a big change in the lives of children in the village. "
Apparently the actor believes in taking something positive out of even adverse situations. Says she, "When I started acting in this film, there were some reports that I walked away from this film, which was not true at all ! It was a figment of someone's imagination! But, as a result, I ended up getting increased audience expectations, publicity and more fans than before! "
Sharing an enjoyable anecdote, she illustrates how the film is so important to her, "When I went to Tenkasi for another film after completing the shooting of ‘Vaathi’, I went to a hotel with a mask on my face to eat Madurai Bun Parota, (which I had already heard about on YouTube) after having Darshan at Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. That was the time when the song 'Vaa Vaathi' had released. As soon as I took off my mask, some people who saw me from there shouted in surprise, 'Ey Namma Teacher Amma'. This is the magic that song creates. It is this pride that I am taking with me through this film,” she says.
The film is slated to release simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu on 17th February, 2023