Ever since her debut in Kumbalangi Nights, Anna Ben, the new girl on the block, with her infectious smile and curly locks, has found a special place in the hearts of the Malayali audience.
The daughter of Malayalam scriptwriter Benny P Nayarambalam (of superhit movies Aakasha Ganga, Kalyanaraman, Chotta Mumbai among others), Anna has cinema flowing through her veins. But the 21-year-old has not confirmed to any such labels of 'connected with the industry'. She has, instead, carved a space for herself, essaying roles in pristine elegance and delivering one hit after another. Onmanorama caught up with the young star for a candid chat.
Has the success of Kumbalangi Nights and Helen given you more responsibilities now?
Maybe. To an extend, yes. No matter what role I take up though, I ensure that I do my homework. But I want to do different characters. I don't want my characters to be repetitive or stereotyped.
It's by luck that I got such endearing characters to play before, but I am open to all roles. After all, I have only just started my journey.
All I care about now is to get the performance right. I am not a method actor. I prepare for the character in what ways I can.
With Kappela, this will be third debut director you are teaming up...
I too am a newcomer, so that does not matter. What matters is the script.
Honestly, I enjoy the phase of listening to scripts. For both my earlier projects, the script was the major highlight, I guess. When Mustafa (director of Kappela) came to narrate the story, it was his storytelling that attracted me to the project initially.
The movie revolves around a few innocent characters. I liked the way these characters were treated too.
How was the shift from Helen to Kappela?
I joined the sets of Kappela the day after I wrapped up Helen. Shooting the last bits of Helen was quite hectic and I was not certain if I could pull off the character Jessi in the new project with ease. I was hesitant to go for the shoot, but director Musthafa allayed my fears.
The movie was shot in high-range. As soon as I reached the location, I was able to get hold of the mood of the film, the rural vibe. After, it was easy to step into the shoes of Jessi.
With first two flicks, you seem to belong to the group of realistic actors...
I am not really sure about that. I am not a method actor. In fact, I have never thought about such a thing. When I get a character to play, I attach to that character and act accordingly. There are moments where its dramatization that is required than a realistic approach. I try to give life to character. Ultimately, it all depends on how the viewers perceive it.
With art running in the family, will we get to see Anna Ben taking up any other roles in movies?
I don't think I can take up any other role. It is true that everyone in the family has got artistic traits. My father is a scriptwriter. My sister has a musical side to her. My mother draws.
I draw too. That's why I enrolled for fashion designing before venturing into acting. I used to write too during my school days, but writing scripts is another matter entirely. I am not ready for that now, I think.
But who knows what the future holds? I did not know I wanted to become an actor until a little while ago.
Apart from Kumbalangi, had you auditioned for any other movie?
Oh yes, I had auditioned for Pranav Mohanlal-starrer Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu but never got through. Even for Kumbalangi, it was only during the fourth round that I was told that I was selected.
How is Kappela different from your first two movies?
If Kumbalangi was a masterclass, Helen was a building block for me. Now, with Kappela I am looking for a new dimension. I play the role of Jessi, a failed 12th standard girl. The film is about an incident that happens to her one day. Kappela had been Musthafa's dream. Apart from being a wonderful director, he is also one of the most amazing human beings I have met.
Your characters Babymol and Helen were a hit among trollers. How do you react to trolls?
I do enjoy them. I see them as an acknowledgement of my characters.
I do get trolled – there will be negative comments on Instagram sometimes, but I ignore them. Isn't it good just to take the positives?
Heard you have a few projects lined up already...
I am shooting for Ranjan Pramod's movie. It's an action thriller. I had two months of training with stunts and kick boxing. It was definitely something new for me.
I have also committed for C/O Saira Banu director Antony's next. And I am paired opposite Arjun Ashokan in that.
For now, I am eagerly waiting for the response for Kappela.