From local theatre to global acclaim: The rise of Kani Kusruti

Kani Kusruti. Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

Actor Kani Kusruti celebrated the splendid success of her movie 'All We Imagine As Light,' which won the prestigious Grand Prix at the Festival de Cannes. Meanwhile, her father Maithreyan, who is currently in the USA, and her mother Jayasree, who resides in Kannur, are clearly overwhelmed. “It was just two weeks ago that Kani and I met in Kochi. Cinema is never a part of our conversations. We would talk for hours and enjoy good food. However, Kani did tell me about Payal Kapadia, the director of 'All We Imagine As Light,'” says Dr. Jayasree, head of the Department of Community Medicine at Pariyaram Medical College. Dr. Jayasree learns about Kani’s movies only when she watches her interviews.

Kani currently resides in Goa. The actress began acting in plays when she was a class 11 student at Government Girls’ HSS, Pattom in Thiruvananthapuram. Kani then joined the drama troupe 'Abhinaya' of her own accord. Jayasree and Maithreyan encouraged Kani to live life on her own terms as soon as she turned 16. After completing her higher secondary education, Kani enrolled at Government Sanskrit College but dropped out after a while when she got bored. Interestingly, Jayasree only found out about it when Kani told her. It was Maithreyan who took Kani to a dance workshop in Bengaluru when she wanted to learn dance. After training there for some time, Kani joined the School of Drama to pursue a course in acting. She then flew to Paris where she trained in drama and theatre, eventually becoming part of a drama troupe that toured the world.

Kani made her film debut through the short film 'Island Express,' which was part of the anthology movie 'Kerala Café.' She then played notable roles in movies like 'Cocktail' and 'Shikar.' Besides Malayalam, Kani has acted in many other languages, including Hindi. Interestingly, she doesn’t differentiate between short films, feature films, or web series. Kani won the state award for Best Actress and top honours at many international film festivals for her fabulous performance in 'Biriyaani,' directed by Sajin Baabu.

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