Can't believe it's been 25 years in Malayalam cinema: Lena

Actress Lena. Photo: Manorama

Lena was apparently called from the middle of her Plus two class to act in her debut film ‘Sneham’ directed by Jayaraj. That was 25 years ago. Her next film ‘Vanitha’ is also her first titular role.

Lena about Vanitha

“This is based on a real-life story. When I heard it was a police officer's character, I thought it will be the usual. But when director Rahim Khader said it is shot entirely within a police station, I was really intrigued. Even happier when I became the character. There was no makeup or tight-fitting uniforms. It was like going to the office, wearing a uniform, and then coming back in the evening. Since the director was a circle inspector everything was accurately depicted. And I realised that the life of a cop isn’t all that great.

Police and Sunny

Lena recalls being summoned to a police station after becoming an actor for driving a scooter without a license. “Then I was studying in plus two. I was late for the exam day. That’s how I decided to take out my Bajaj Sunny scooter from my Trissur home in Poonkunnam. In the middle of driving the scooter, I heard the sound of a horn from behind.

I was petrified to see two cops on a bike behind me. When I said I was on my way to write an exam, they asked for my license. When I said I don’t have one, they looked ominous. They told me to come to the police station with my parents and left. But I didn’t take that seriously and didn’t bother to inform my parents as well. By evening, cops were in front of our house. My mother was shocked when they informed her of my scooter ride. Finally, we both went to the station.

They properly scolded me before letting me go. Though I took a license the next year, I never found the courage to ride a scooter. I still don’t ride one.

25 years in Malayalam cinema

It was while picking a few students for auditioning a play that Lena was selected to act in a film. That’s how she became Sneham’s Ammu. Then she did 10 films continuously. But after Lal Jose’s 'Randam Bhavam' (remember the scene in which she flashes her purple tongue after eating Jamun fruits), she returned to her studies. It took her 3 more years to come back. When she went to Mumbai to study, she missed acting in movies terribly. She felt like she has missed out on something. That’s when she was called for ‘Koottu’ and she was back in films. That was her calling.

Lena still can’t believe that it’s been 25 years since she came to Malayalam cinema. Her first attempt as a screenplay writer ‘Olam’ will be released this year. Since she is busy dabbling in various characters on screen, she is temporarily keeping her dream as a director aside.

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