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‘Puzhu’ is about a resonant subject in the present, says Parvathy

By Saraswathy Nagarajan

Parvathy Thiruvothu is shooting in Hyderabad for Dootha, her first work in Telugu, when I call her to talk about Puzhu, dropping on SonyLIV on May 13.

“For the longest possible time, I have wanted to work in a film with supernatural elements. The Telugu film industry has always handled it so well and take the genre seriously. I am excited about this outing. I am a great fan of horror films and now I get to work in one,” says Parvathy, who also hopes to dub for her character.

Directed by Vikram Kumar, Dootha, a web series has Naga Chaitanya and Priya Bhavani Shankar in the cast.

Moving on to her Malayalam film, Puzhu, she says most people ask her the reason for such a title Puzhu, which means worm in Malayalam. “But if you see the trailer, towards the end, a character says that on the seventh day a special guest comes to tell the story, a  puzhu. One understands that the term puzhu has come from a story-telling. In  Puzhu there are a lot of metaphors for what actually happens in the film and, for me, there is a larger political context from the film.”

Directed by debutant Ratheena PT and scripted by Harshad, Suhas and Sharfudheen, the film has Parvathy and Mammootty working together for the first time.

When Harshad phoned Parvathy and told her there was a story, he added that Mammootty was in the lead. Parvathy readily agreed to work in the film. “I wondered why that was even a question. And when I heard that Ratheena was directing it, I was enthused by the thought of working with her,” she explains.

Actor Parvathy Thiruvothu (Source: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

Parvathy points out that often when women make films, there is a genre they are typecast into – light-hearted ones, family dramas.... Ratheena makes her debut as a director after years of experience in the production space and her film cannot be categorised into those boxes. “She is one of the most clear-headed human beings I have met. I have enjoyed watching her shift from an executive producer in Uyare to my director in  Puzhu. It was enthusing to watch her evolve as a director.”

So what is  Puzhu about? “It is a resonant subject in the present. It actually proves what I have been trying to say since  Kasaba,” elaborates Parvathy.

Parvathy was trolled and subjected to cyber abuse when she said during an interaction on the sidelines of the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (2017) that she found certain scenes and lines to be misogynistic in the Mammootty-starrer Kasaba. A group of the senior actor’s fans and some in the Malayalam film industry made it look as if she had verbally attacked him. Mammootty stayed away from the mudslinging and clearly the actors have moved on.

Interesting premise

Discussing the storyline of Puzhu, Parvathy says: “I have an interesting character in Puzhu. It is a great story and Mammootty is headlining it. It is a bonus for me that the film deals with what I have been trying to say in terms of how we present problematic characters and subjects on screen without slipping into the danger of glorifying them.  Puzhu is one of the best examples we will find.”

Parvathy believes that working with Ratheena was smooth sailing because she knew exactly what she wanted from every scene. “On the set, there are certain requirements that I as an actor need from my director. Moreover, the director should be able to empower the actor to get the best output from her. It differs from actor to actor.”

Parvathy feels that a woman at the helm does make a big difference. There are times when a woman’s perspective could be different while framing a scene involving relationships or the equation between men and women. “In Ratheena’s case, she was able to understand the subtle changes that matter in a scene when I requested her for clarifications,” observes Parvathy.

While answering a question about her directorial debut, Parvathy says that though she has completed a script and screenplay, she plans to step behind the camera for a screenplay that has been developed by two women and was narrated to her about two years ago in June 2020.

“I was amazed by how gripping their narration was. I plan to go ahead with that but there is no clear indication when I will begin.” The multiple-award winning actor says with a laugh that she now emphathises and understands what it is like to be on the side of mounting a project.

Upcoming projects

Prior to shifting to direction, she has projects to complete. She has to finish Dootha and there is a film with Anjali Menon, based on a short fiction. There are two projects in Malayalam that have been announced – Lijin Jose’s Her and a film with debutant director Christo.

Christo had approached her with a script three to four years ago. She found the script “too intense” and did not think she was in the right frame of mind to take it up as she was looking for something light.  

“I was so tired of doing intense stuff. It was a extremely good subject. Later, he contacted me and said he had reworked the script and asked me if I wanted to take a look at it. Then I decided to become a part of it,” says Parvathy.

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Dive Deeper:
Ratheena PT on ‘Puzhu’: ‘A movie to be experienced and not explained’
The debutant director talks about bringing together Mammootty and Parvathy for the first time
‘Puzhu’ movie review: Mammootty’s menacing presence anchors this important debut film with a few failings
Despite its flaws, the film marks an important debut from director Ratheena PT, who is clearly not ready to walk…
Mammootty's new film ‘Puzhu’ to stream on SonyLIV on 13 May
Top South Indian actors are following their Bollywood counterparts to feature in web originals or have their films release directly…
Malayalam short film ‘New Normal’ attempts to normalise the conversation around homosexuality
‘New Normal’ has been scripted and directed by debutant director Monisha Mohan Menon
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Little Tornadoes review – an elegant portrait of life in country Australia
While far from light viewing, this period drama written by Christos Tsiolkas and director Aaron Wilson is a pleasure
Keerthy Suresh's gorgeous stills from 'Sarkaru Vaari Paata'
Keerthy Suresh is one of the most successful, famous and loved actresses in the South film industry. She has successfully…
Get all your news in one place