Aniyamma in 'Masterpeace' is not someone you often come across in movies or daily soaps. She is over-the-top, makes a mountain out of a molehill, and never-ever gets on well with her daughter-in-law, though she tries to mask it with her outer, unbearable sweetness. Maala Parvathi, who played this character onscreen, is happy with the response to Aniyamma and sees this as an opportunity to bag nuanced, stronger characters in Mollywood.
Aniyama is a character that stood out in the series. How has the reaction been to your character?
When I read the script, it was obvious that Aniyamma would be leading the narrative with all her drama and problems (laughs). I enjoyed it a lot since it was a performance-oriented role. Though I have done several movies in Malayalam, I hardly got opportunities to try my hand in comedy, except in 'Purusha Pretham' and 'Bheeshma Parvam'. Aniyamma was a full-fledged attempt in this genre. However, I was not apprehensive, since I have performed humorous roles in the theatre in the past.
If you look at it, ‘Masterpeace’ is theatrical in many ways…
Yes. And that’s why it is so much fun. The script was really hilarious. In fact, the directors Sreejith and writer Praveen S Cheruthura are people with a lot of artistic vision. They are also intellectual. It was inspiring to work with them. In fact, they wanted us to scale our actions up, almost to the point of being theatrical. We were never limited in any way by them. Also, the co-actors had the same energy, which helped me in a lot of ways. Nithya’s artistic measure never changes and it is amazing to work with her. Since Renji Panicker is a filmmaker himself, he is good at improvisation.
Did you have any apprehensions about people’s response to your character and the series?
This was the first time I felt nervous about people’s reception to my character and the project. That’s because Aniyamma was way different from the characters I have done in the past. I wanted this project and my character to work, because I believed this would change a lot of things for me in the industry. I am grateful for the roles I have received till date. However, I got very few characters that allowed me to challenge myself as an actor. 'Masterpeace' gave me that space. In most films, I was either a doctor, or an advocate or someone who was doling out advice. Everyone who knows me would vouch for the fact I am not someone like that at all. I have a different personality and I really wanted Aniyamma to work.
How do you see the negative remarks to films and series these days?
On the first day of ‘Masterpeace’ release, I read several comments that targeted me. Many people felt that I was overacting and intolerable. Some even commented that I should contemplate quitting movies. Though it hurt me initially, I realised I should not let any of these comments affect me. That’s because all these comments have a pattern. If someone makes a negative remark, it is followed by similar statements. Those who found the movie or series good won’t write a positive comment for fear of being trolled. If you don’t generalise these remarks, it would be easy to move on. ‘Masterpeace’ received a lot of negative comments in the initial days, but later started getting appreciation for its content and experimental approach. The series finally gained acceptance because it reached a lot of women over a period of time. However, movies don’t get that time gap and can get destroyed by negative reviews on the first day.
A lot of women could relate to Aniyamma...
I believe women related more to Lizamma, who would utter the lyrics of a song everytime she got an opportunity. There are many Lizammas in the world. She was so talented but she is not allowed to sing. She is stiffled. All of us would know women who were so talented in their college. But, where are they now? I personally know a lot of women in my college during the 1980s. Compared to them, I was average. I was a good organiser, but talent-wise I don’t believe I stood out. But, it’s sad to realise they are not in the forefront any more.
Has there been any improvisations from your side while doing the character?
The script was 95 per cent written, while five per cent was improvised. Those improvisations happened during the shoot, part by part. We got that creative freedom on the sets.
Masterpeace starring Nithya Menen, Sharafudheen, Maala Parvathi, Ashokan, Renji Panicker, Ashokan, Shantikrishna, Jude Anthany Joseph and Srikant Murali is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.