Y Sunita Chowdhary
Ask Nandita Swetha if she is busy and the question sparks a guffaw. Who is busy now, tell me she says. “Lock down 1.0 gave us a panic attack and we immersed ourselves in cleaning, sanitising. We got used to 2.0 too but now I am thoroughly bored and wondering what I need to do. Some days back I began shooting photos and whatever you see on my social media handles since lockdown is done by me. I have learnt to edit too. I joined some online courses which take up three or four hours of my time. I also spend a lot of time watching television and on the laptop. You name a film and I have seen it. I have all the OTT accounts and have diligently noted down the passwords lest I forget. My films that were released were 7, Kalki, Abhinetri 2 and Thaana (Tamil film with Vaibhav).”
Is it the first time she is donning the role of a cop in IPC-376? “No, I played a cop in Vanangamudi starring Aravind Swamy. That was also a cop story but this is female-centric, out and out cop film. The moment you sign the project and you know you are going to play cop, the subconscious mind starts to work physically too. Months before the shoot, you diet and you have been sweating it out and when you wear the uniform and gaze at the mirror, you know the hard work has paid off. It gives you confidence.”
When did the make-over begin? Nandita remembers her first few years in the industry where she needed minimal or absolutely no makeup but constant remarks from people made her think and take a decision. She says, “From 2014 onwards, I didn’t bother about my diet. All the roles that I did were traditional in nature, I had to be a homely girl or a villager, also had to look chubby. I also wasn’t too fair because I had to put on a dull skin tone for the camera for two years. One day I got bored and decided to just be myself. People had started saying that I am so fair yet why I look dull on the screen. I know I was playing the characters but I felt the urge to be seen in my own skin once in a while. I signed a Selvaraghavan film and other commercial films and began working out to look original and fit. When a girl wears traditional clothes, she definitely looks pretty but when you are playing other characters, the actor will be judged in all aspects. So I began to take myself seriously”.
Many actors who have done cop roles had the same thing to say, that the moment they got into the uniform, they felt empowered. What does that costume do to an actor? “I have already mentioned that the uniform does make you confident but that confidence stems from being fit. An artiste can’t be conscious of the camera, only if you are fit you can do a great job. Not all people can look like a cop, not all can pull it off. Either they will look funny or people will like them in it. Wearing a police uniform and that too with a tight belt is not at all comfortable, especially when you sit. Even if you have a six-pack, your tummy pops out. I asked the junior artists who did the constable characters, both men and women, as to how they manage it.” What Nandita Swetha said is absolutely right, it isn’t an easy task to be dressed in clothes for long hours that doesn’t allow you to breathe. South cinema wants heroines to look glamorous. They need to be seen in figure-hugging uniforms.
What is IPC – 376 film in a nutshell? “It is a story about rape attempt, murder. The trailer shows the suffering of girls and I play a cop who tries to find out the perpetrator. There are a lot of twists and turns in the story. In films usually if the hero is a cop, there is a strong antagonist and they have a big fight. In this story, there are many villains and it is not about just one fight, finding out who the villain is a huge task. Super Subbarayan master is the action choreographer designed an action episode and he also played the villain. It is tough but I enjoyed the action scenes.” It was at this time Nandita Swetha had a gallbladder infection and she was admitted in the hospital. She made sure she finished the scenes and only then went for the treatment.
Prod the actor to tell us more about the story, she tries telling it without giving away the story, “When you have power, you have to use it for the right purpose. There are times when innocent people get into jail and the criminals are roaming freely on the streets. Without proper knowledge, the cops could be supporting the bad people too and it is tough to nail the villain but when they get to know who the culprit is, they need to act swiftly right?.” Ramkumar is a debutant wielding the megaphone and producer is Prabhakar.