Priyamani Raj: ‘Actresses are given their due importance in Hindi films’

Debarati Palit Singh
Tuesday, 5 May 2020

“I liked the character of Janhvi because she is quite a protective mother and will go any lengths to protect her child,” says Priyamani Raj

Her digital debut last year – The Family Man — was among the top web series in India. Now, Priyamani Raj is experimenting more on this platform. Her latest web film – Ateet, a Zee5 original, has her playing a woman torn between her past and present.

“I liked the character of Janhvi because she is quite a protective mother and will go any lengths to protect her child,” says Priyamani as we chat her up over the phone. “I also the liked the way the makers narrated me the script because I had never done anything like this before in Hindi,” she adds.

Did she take inspiration while playing the character? “I never take any inspiration while playing any of my characters. It’s always spot on for me. I go to the set and follow my instincts,” she replies.

The suspense thriller also stars Rajeev Khandelwal and Sanjay Suri. She says that both of them are fantastic and bring their own touch to their respective roles. “I had fun working with them,” she says.

Priyamani did Ateet much before The Family Man, and the film was her first authentic commercial Hindi film, which was supposed to release theatrically. “But for whatever reason, the film got delayed, and Zee5 came on board. In this current situation, people can enjoy the film,” she adds.

The actress, who works in all the film industries down South –Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam, says that she has always been selective about her projects. “I choose carefully what I have to do. I should like the story while being narrated. Having said that, you cannot blame an actor for the project’s end result,” she points out.

It’s hard not to take the discussion back to The Family Man, starring Manoj Bajpayee, Sharad Kelkar, Sharib Hashmi and others. After the first season, expectations are quite high from the second one. She says that personally for her, the response has been fantastic and she thanks Raj and DK (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK) for offering her the character. 

“The way they created the look and feel was amazing. It’s very real, and people could relate to a lot of situations happening in the family. Obviously, when the husband was doing his duty, it was the woman/wife who had to take care of everything. So they did not just focus on Manoj sir’s character but also showed the dynamics in the family. The series had drama, emotions, light moments and that’s what connected with the viewers.” 

She excitedly adds that the first thing that people keep asking her is, ‘When is the second season coming out?’.

Priyamani is one of few actresses who has been playing a mother on screen from a young age. Before The Family Man, she played a mother in many of her South Indian films, and she says that she can be called a ‘very cool mother’. 

“Not just in films and web series, I play mother in commercials too. I am mostly offered a mother’s role, but I do not have any problem. As long as my character has something to contribute to the story, there is no issue,” she says, adding, “Honestly, times are changing, and the focus is moving on the situation of the character. Filmmakers today are not just highlighting the men but women too, who can beautifully do multi-tasking.”

The actress who has worked in films like Rakta Charitra, Vishnuvardhana, Chaarulatha, Golimaar and others says that the perception about actresses in Hindi film industry is quite different from that in the South. 

“In Hindi, even though the actress is married or whatever the scenario is, they have prominent roles to play in films, which are specially written for them. If a director wants Kajol or Kareena Kapoor Khan, she or he will write a prominent role and then approach the actress. They are given their due importance in films, otherwise, they will not commit to the films,” she says. 

In the South industry, women are there just for dance numbers or romancing the hero. “Of course, right now, I can see that girls are also contributing to the story. Apart from song and dance, which continues to be there, there is more to their characters. Even the mainstream heroines are having very strong female-oriented films, which are releasing,” says the actress who will also be seen in the biographical sports film — Maidaan, starring Ajay Devgn.

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