Talk about Madonna Sebastian and one is reminded of Celine and the red velvet cake scene from Premam. The wide grey-eyed girl was later much noted for her roles opposite stars like Vijay Sethupathi and Naga Chaitanya. Working with seasoned actors has in fact exposed her to the various styles and approaches adopted by them. And now, she's back to Mollywood with Asif Ali in the movie Iblis.
The movie is directed by Rohith who was much noticed for his debut directorial 'Adventures of Omanakuttan.' With Iblis releasing on August 3, Onmanorama caught up with Madonna Sebastian who plays Fida in the movie based on a fresh-fantasy theme. The actress who greeted us with smile had crisp answers to all our queries. Excerpts:
It's a time for realistic movies in Malayalam. What's your take on doing a movie based on a fantasy theme?
I have been waiting to work on something like this. As a child, I was always in a fantasy world. Still there are things that amaze me like magic. I used to read a lot of books. In fact, I was a crazy Harry Potter fan. After Premam, I always wanted a fantasy movie and here it happened.
Your father used to ask you to watch Hollywood movies more than Indian ones. Did that influence you in subtle acting?
Yes, definitely there has been an influence. At the same time, Malayalam cinema always had world-class movies. During my childhood days, I mostly watched foreign movies. And when I started watching our movies, I realized that both are, kind of, in the same category. This helped shape me as an actor.
When you go to other industries where there are lots of commercial stuff, then there you have to exaggerate a bit.
You are coming back to Malayalam after a while...
Oh, yes. It feels great. For any other language, I have to learn my lines by heart. There will be some 7-9 pages per day to learn and even when I get to sleep, I will be like I need to prepare for the next day. So coming to Malayalam, I don't have such a pressure. We can improvise our line, that's the best thing here. Coming to Iblis, we didn't have to improvise because it was tightly made and is like a solid package.
Once actresses get stardom in other industries - Tamil or Telugu there's a common tendency to leave Mollywood...
True to an extend. However, in 3 years, I did about 7-8 movies. It takes lots of time to complete one project and take up the next. I always wanted to come back and hope all the other actresses too might have the same feeling. Perhaps they are looking for an exciting project to come back.
What's stardom for you?
I have stars in my head – somebody whom I look up to and have great admiration for. And at the same time, they should be a great artiste. If one is lacking one aspect, I don't think that person qualifies as a star. Don't know if it's controversial but that's what I think. (laughs)
It's amusing to see your old singing videos...
Yeah... I was 14 back then. It was for a Christian channel. I never thought I would act. I wanted to be a singer. Everybody is a singer today. Singing is what brought me here.
Your good looks are admired by many...
Is it? (Laughs) Nice to hear that anyway.
To be an actor, is beauty a major factor?
It helps. See I can't lie about it. But beauty can only sustain you for a while. At the same time, if you need to be recognized and respected as an artiste, you have to do your work properly. For me, beauty is to be able to connect more with others and is secondary for me.
Is chemistry with co-star an important aspect in cinema?
I think the chemistry is important only when you are a newcomer. Probably, initially I used to think that way. After a point, you become a professional. If the person opposite you doesn't act well, I don't think it will affect you. You see experienced stars be it Lalettan or Mammookka, they are least affected whoever comes opposite them.
In this movie Iblis, Asif and I don't have too many combination scenes. This movie was actually shot in teeny-tiny bits. It was just one or two days that we got to speak with each other. There's no strict romance as you have thought it to be. You will see when the movie releases.
Premam was the 11th movie offer you got... Did you regret of coming so late into the industry?
No, not at all. I don't think I have many regrets in life.
Rohith is just two films old. What was your concern in choosing a director like him?
Usually, I pick a movie or character based on the sensibilities of a director. The maker of the movie is undoubtedly my major criterion. I think, the story was told to me in a very solid manner. Once Rohith finished narrating the script to me, I heard it for a second time too. Then I knew this guy is really sensible and he knows what he is saying. He was confident in trying out a new idea. That was enough for me. Even if you get a good script it's not necessary that it turns out really well. But it depends on the maker, how he treats and how he visualizes it.
So the same happened when you chose King Liar?
King Liar... I didn't listen to the script at all. In the first meeting itself with Lal sir (actor-director Lal) he asked if we shall work together and I was like yes of course. That time I was just a beginner. I wouldn't ask people like him for a script.
But today, looking at that character, I realize anyone could have easily done that role. That's my opinion about that particular character. But yes, we had fun shooting at places in Dubai.