LAVANYA TRIPATHI ON SUPERSTARS, KATHAK AND PARATHAS
by Rinku Gupta
She first plunged into Kollywood with Bramman opposite M Sasikumar and Naveen Chandra. But after that, the pretty and charming actor LAVANYA TRIPATHI went back to Tollywood, the industry that gave her the debut hit Andala Rakshasi. Now, after back-to-back hits like Bhale Bhale Magadivoy with Nani and Soggade Chinni Nayana opposite Telugu Superstar Nagarjuna, the bubbly heroine is not only hot property in Tollywood, but is back in Tamil Cinema as well. Producer turned debut director CV Kumar has signed her up for his Mayavan. On cloud nine post her string of hits, Lavanya is full of energy as she shares titbits about her personal and professional life with us.
We catch up Lavanya amidst her hectic shooting schedule in Chennai. She has just had a long day at work but the excitement in her voice is palpable. In a relatively short span of a few years, Lavanya has managed to make a mark in Tollywood. And the recent hits have only added to her star appeal. But she is modest about it all, “When I joined films with Andala Rakshasi, I never imagined that I would get where I am today. God has been kind and people have been supportive. When I signed them, I didn’t know that Bhale Bhale… and Soggadu… were going to bring me so much recognition! I’m thrilled I got to work with Nani and Nagarjuna, both of whom I admire. People have started believing more in my talent now so it’s been a triple whammy!”
She’s clear that she wants to stand out from the crowd with the kind of roles she portrays, “I like to be different and as varied as possible. In Bhale.. I played a Kuchipudi teacher, in Soggade.. I was a married woman while in Srisastu Subhamasthu which I’m currently shooting with with Allu Sirish, I play a college girl. Now in Mayavan, it’s a realistically portrayed headstrong girl.”
First take with CV Kumar
For someone who was firmly ensconced in Telugu Cinema, basking in the glory of her hits, it was the script that made Lavanya take up this offer. “When CV Kumar called me up and told me about Mayavan, I was super excited. Not only was I happy to be getting back into the Tamil film groove, but it was also nice to be part of his directorial debut, given that he has such a great film sensibility as a producer and has backed path-breaking films like Soodhu Kavvum. Most of all, it’s the script that excited me. In Mayavan, I found I have something concrete to do as the heroine. It’s a thriller and a love story, but there are many layers which made it exciting.”
The first few days of shoot gave her the opportunity to get familiar with Tamil again, after a gap. “I take my dialogues with me in advance so that I can learn them up and get the lip sync and expressions right. So far we’ve been shooting in real locations in Chennai. It’s great to work with a fun and young team.” So how strict is CV Kumar as a director? She laughs, “He’s such a sweet person and he makes us very comfortable on sets. He told me that he saw me in Soggade and thought me apt for this role. He is confident about what he wants from us, but at the same time he listens if you have suggestions and also gives an actor freedom to explore. So, it’s a good balance. For me, it feels good to be comfy with the unit I’m working with. I get suffused with their positive energy and that keeps me going even if work hours are long.”
Break? Not really!
We ask her why the gap in Tamil between Bramman(2014) and Mayavan (2016) and she replies, “ I had been shooting for Doosukeltha and Bramman back to back. So after that, I decided to go back home to Mumbai and take a break. When I came back to Hyderabad, I was offered Soggade.. and Bhale Bhale….which took up all my time. That’s why I couldn’t concentrate much on Kollywood in the interim. But now I’m back!” she laughs.
But it wasn’t just an ordinary break she took in Mumbai. Looks like even holidays are filled with activity for the industrious actor, who decided to concentrate on her love for dance again. She explains, “As a kid, I had learnt kathak and Bharatnatyam in school . But when I took up modelling in Mumbai I lost touch with dance. So during this break I decided to go back to kathak lessons. I learn from Vijaysree Choudhary who is the disciple of the famed Kathak dancer Birju Maharaj.” Kathak is her first love for a variety of reasons. “Dance is a great exercise and at the same time brings out more of your feminine graces, which gymming cannot do. I love Kathak for the way it has helped me as an actor as well. It has added to my repertoire of expressions for the screen and has made my body language more graceful.”
Sundeep to the rescue
Her Mayavan co-star Sundeep Kishan is a good friend, “We haven’t worked together before though we got lot of offers to pair up in Telugu. I’ve known him for a long time. So I’m glad its finally worked out. It’ll be a fresh pairing for audiences.”
She has one more reason to be happy shooting with Sundeep. “You see, I’m allergic to healthy food and am a total ‘paratha person’! So, I was craving for home-made parathas because you get a different type of parotta in Chennai, that’s when Sundeep came to my rescue. He has a North Indian cook at his Chennai residence and so he sent me hot, home-made stuffed parathas which I relished with ghee and pickles!” The best part of shooting in Chennai for Lavanya, is indulging in her love for vadas and paper dosas every morning!