Maala Parvathi may be a debutant here, but in the Malayalam industry she is a popular artiste and known for ease in portraying melodramatic and sentimental characters. She had a brief stint in Tamil cinema and her role as Dr Rita in Game Over won her encomiums. Her entry in cinema was late, she began working when she was 39 years old but once she started it, there has been no looking back. Maala Parvathi is eleven years old and she made her mark as Arjunamma in Tuck Jagadeesh this year. The film didn’t release in the theatres but an audience far more bigger than that of a theatre had watched her performance that was subtle and complicated. In a chat with Y.Sunita Chowdhary of Klapboardpost.com, Maala Parvathi says that she was spotted by Nani who watched Game Over and suggested the casting people of Tuck Jagadeesh to rope her in the film. ” Nani wanted me to play Arjunamma. I couldn’t be more grateful, I was surprised because I had no contacts in Telugu. A few casting people did contact me but due to dates issues nothing worked. We had a look test and Shiva sent me back, confirming my role in the film. It was a beautiful character. Arjunama plays a crucial role but with many shades. She has a hidden bias, more partial to Bose (Jagapathi Babu). It should be very subtle and only when they think back, will they realise what the truth is.”
She adds that there was a nice scene which was deleted, “When Nasser comes and tells me that Tulasamma had an abortion, she was going through depression. I tell him that we shall give her the baby, irrespective of the gender. He is against that because he thinks that will lead to fights later and I promise him it will not happen. She is not a usual mother and it is a complex role to play. I am his first wife. Because of the deletion of certain scenes,there is a confusion in the film. When I am carrying, AdiKesavaulu Naidu to protect the village marries Tualsamma. She is an amazing and beautiful woman and dies during the time Nani is born. Tulasamma had many abortions, she is in depression so we give Bose Babu to her. She conceives and delivers Nani later. The rest are all my children. The youngest who cannot speak is also my son. In Game Over too, my role was strong.”
Parvathi got a few films after that, she was told to wait for the film’s because she’d surely get better opportunities. She shares, “I was supposed to do Rashmika and Sharwanand film but there were dates issues. I am waiting for an equally good role, it might be FIR in Tamil. In Malayalam movies I am known to do sentimental scenes very well. I just finished a film with Mamooty Bheeshma Parvam, I am playing Mamooty sir’s brother’s wife. It is a grey and hilarious role. I can’t reveal much.” How did she learn Telugu within a short time? “I would write down dialogues in Malayalam and memorise them. I have big notebooks and I write each dialogue twenty five times. I have a girl who teaches Telugu, its correct pronunciation, meaning. I memorise and sometimes in the middle of the night I would call her to clarify my doubts. Once I memorised a lengthy page filled with dialogues and they changed it on the set. It was the biggest nightmare. Director Shiva Nirvana told me not to worry. I had a panic attack. standing there, I was nervous.
It is a scene that takes place after Aishwarya Rajesh’s marriage, Nani comes and walks out. Parvathi turns jittery as all her lines change at the last minute.” She quips, “I thought I’ll leave the film but the actors calmed me down and encouraged me. Telugu is a beautiful language, very expressive. If you learn it will be easy. In 2020 March, I learnt Telugu.” Pavathi has so many credentials up her sleeve. She responds, “I never wanted to be an actor. I am a psychologist, and have completed an M.Phil in psychology. While I was doing M.A, Asianet wanted me to anchor a show. They were going for full length live shows in the morning with a guest. They invited me for the show. It was my first show termed Suprabhatam. Then after that, I began doing projects independently.”
She adds, “Till 2007 I was working in different channels and then I was there with every channel. One day, I was interviewing Suresh Gopi and he later told me about a role in his film. His wife and I are college mates and family friends. Suresh Gopi was looking for a woman to play a mother in the film, and when I was offered that chance, my family didn’t object. The work was like a picnic and since I was good at memorising..all my dialogues were approved in the first take. Though people complimented me, I knew I was amateurish and there was something missing. I was called for Neela Tamara in 2009 and this time it was a remake. They wanted me to do the title role, it is about a senior girl remembering what had happened to her. Around that time, I met a person from a theatre and the subsequent workshops I participated in changed my life. M.G.Jyothish became my Guru and he taught me all about acting. We performed in Hyderabad, Delhi and Australia and followed it up with zillion shows.”
How did theatre help in understanding on screen characters better? I didn’t know the craft, and have never been trained. Once for a play, when I was told about the psychological issues the character faced that she had depression, I began mimicking. I took it seriously and my hair became grey. It affected my health badly but after that I began learning and enjoying it. The tenth production was held in Brisbane and it was a huge hit. My director M.G Jyothish, who taught me acting, got me a job. I started getting roles in films, one was Anjali Menon’s movie etc. I am not a professional, I am an empathetic person and when people talk I connect very easily. I have done more than 100 films.” Parvathi is a member of a joint family. Her father is 91 and her mother is a gynecologist. Her husband has retired from government service and she shares that her sister lives with them. Parvathi was a voracious reader and grew up thinking she would take up anthropology and evolution biology as her subjects but instead took up psychology. In her free time she reads neuroscience and believes that one should constantly keep reading. During the lockdown the actor did a couple of films and was also taking care of her mother. There are club house activities as well where like minded friends share experiences. What is Parvathi’s best quality? “I listen without judgement,” she says.