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Meet the tribal warrior of Pazhassi Raja

Last updated on: October 15, 2009 15:29 IST

Meet the tribal warrior of Pazhassi Raja

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Meghna George in Kochi

As the Malayalam magnum opus Pazhassi Raja readies for October 16, Padmapriya is excited and proud to be a part of it.

The "beauty with brains" has done some sensible roles in the past without always being stereotyped or playing the pretty doll, ready to dance to tunes of the hero.

With films like Kazhcha, Karutha Pakshikal, Naalu Pennungal, Yes Your Honour, Rajamanikyam and Bhoomi Malayalam besides many others, she has carved out a niche for herself as an actor. Her forthcoming projects in Malayalam, besides Pazhassi Raja, include Shaji N Karun's Kutty Srank, where she plays a complex character.

In an exclusive chat with rediff.com, Padmapriya talks about her role in Pazhassi Raja and why the film happens to be the most relevant attempt during recent times.


Image: A scene from Pazhassi Raja

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'I was excited to be a part of a film on the history of my country'

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How do you feel being part of Pazhassi Raja?

Most importantly, it's a film about the history of my country and Pazhassi Raja's significant role is something which many of us have not been educated about. Though we regard the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 as the first organised revolt against the British, Pazhassi Raja had fought against them much earlier.

It was great to be part of the team while documenting such a thing. It's not to be seen as just another film. It has been made in a scale which it deserves. It's perhaps not just about MT Vasudevan Nair, not just about Hariharan or not just about Mammootty, in the sense that it is not just about a single entity. It is all of them put together. It's indeed heartening that a producer like Gokulam Gopalan has come forward and invested this kind of money for the film.


Image: A scene from Pazhassi Raja

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'Its hardcore action time for me now'

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What attracted you to the character, Neeli?

Neeli was an interesting character to portray. She is strong and at the same time sweet, emotional and a simple tribal girl. Usually we see heroines doing action roles either wearing leather pants or in a police uniform.

In India we rarely do an action film that's gets treated like an action film, let's say, like a Charlie's Angels or a Kill Bill.  I have already done nice kinds of roles in many other films and in Pazhassi Raja, it's at times hardcore action for me.


Image: A scene from Pazhassi Raja

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'Neeli is an innocent, emotional, sensitive and patriotic woman'

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Tell us more about the nature of your role...

When Pazhassi Raja goes to the forest to wage war against the British, there are two tribal groups who support him, led by Thalackal Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan) and Neeli. She has been trained in guerilla warfare. There is an emotional phase and at certain times it's more about personal war as well.

Neeli is a beautiful combination of very intense, emotional and physical requirements. Since he has to climb up and down the hill, she has to be strong. She can't always be nice and sweet like the queen, played by Kaniha, who is very graceful and is of course, very relevant in the film. Neeli is an innocent, emotional, sensitive and patriotic woman.


Image: A scene from Pazhassi Raja

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'Pazhassi Raja is s a very Indian film at heart'

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How tough was it doing a character in Pazhassi Raja as it is a period saga about which even Malayalis have not much knowledge?

Of course, all the research was done by the script writer and the director. There is not much information about the characters on the Internet or even in the libraries. The actors have generally followed the instructions given by the script writer and the director.

How excited are you about the film now that it is finally coming to the cinemas after some time since shooting started?

I think with the kind of effort that would require making such a film, it has been done in an amazing way. I am excited and hope that it will be well accepted. It's not just to be seen as a Malayalam film, it's a very Indian film at heart.


Image: A scene from Pazhassi Raja

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