Malayalam actor Leona Lishoy, who is a great travel enthusiast, is of the opinion that a girl should have the courage and tenacity to face challenges head on, that too alone, and the fuel that should drive every girl is the thought that you have protect yourself and no one will help you out on that front.
Leona, who loves solo trips, shares her travel experience and opens up on her dream destinations in a free-wheeling chat with Manoramaonline.
In ‘12th Man’ your character is an independent and bold woman who lives alone. She nonchalantly puffs cigarette smoke into the air in the film. If a girl has to travel alone in Kerala, does she need that kind of boldness?
I have an opinion that she has to be bold and intrepid. Is it possible for a girl to fearlessly walk in the dead of the night? Everyone, including the ‘moral police’, would bay for blood if that happens. Girls are always told to avoid night travel. The main problem staring at the society is lack of safety. There are many people who can’t realize their travel dreams. You have to break the shackles and fly high. Men and women have equal rights in enjoying nature’s bounty. The society will change only when there is a paradigm shift in the outlook of each and every individual. Women need the freedom to travel anywhere, that too safely.
You have completed a decade in filmdom as you debuted in Malayalam film ‘Kalikalam’ in 2012. Which is the exotic place you visited as part of your work?
My first film was ‘Kalikalam’ but unfortunately that movie never saw the light of day. But the shooting locations of that film are dear to my heart as the movie was canned at some of the picturesque forests in Kerala. The moving picture was even shot deep inside the forest. I got the opportunity to trek through verdant forests and savour the beauty of mountains and nature’s offerings. I had never thought of visiting such serene places but my first film took me there. I love to travel to destinations that take me closer to nature.
Kulamavu GreenBerg Holiday Resort, which was the shooting location of my latest film ‘12th Man’, blended perfectly with nature. I loved the place and the breathtaking views. It is a feel-good destination and the sight of mist-covered hills and the nip in the air are simply outstanding.
Your father is an actor and he has also travelled a lot for films. Which place have you visited along with your father as part of film shooting?
I haven’t travelled much with my father. When I was a child, I had gone to various places along with my father when he was acting in serials. Once we went to Kuttikanam and that was the first time I had been to that beautiful hill station. And that was my first tryst with mist and mountains too.
Your character in ‘Mayaanadhi’ was quite different, that of a girl who is most obedient to her elder brother. When it comes to travelling, do you hit the road without parents’ permission?
When I was studying, my parents didn’t allow me go on excursions with my friends. They also didn’t give me permission to travel alone. But now things have changed and there is full freedom. I also enjoy all the shooting trips to the fullest.
Which destination do you want to visit alone?
I love solo trips but till now I haven’t embarked on such a journey. I have travelled alone to pay visit to my friends but haven’t gone on a solo trip in its true sense. I want to set on a solo journey to Istanbul as I have read somewhere that it is a great place to travel alone. I fell in love with Istanbul after seeing photos and videos of that awesome Turkish city.
Where do you want to travel with someone special?
As I am crazy about travelling, any destination will do. I don’t have any specific destination in mind. I love places with cold weather and have a desire to visit Europe. I also want to set foot on Sikkim, Darjeeling, Manali and Ladakh in India.
As a child did you dream of visiting any particular place after growing up?
A visit to mist-covered Manali was always a dream. I have been to Manali. Though I went to Himachal Pradesh, I couldn’t go to other tourist destinations in Himachal, and if I get an opportunity in future, I love to visit all of them.
The flip side of being a celebrity is that such personalities can’t move around freely without grabbing attention. Have you faced such problems, if so, kindly share a hilarious incident?
For me, travel is relaxation. I zero in on a destination after considering its natural beauty, climate, scope for adventure and accommodation facilities, among others. When I am travelling in Kerala, I am bit conscious of my status but while undertaking a trip outside Kerala, I have a thinking that no one knows me. But the celebrity status has not given me any issues whatsoever. As wearing face mask is compulsory now, no one can recognize me.
But one incident took me by surprise. There are some people who could recognize me with my eyes and that was a real surprise for me. Once I went to attend an acting workshop in Mumbai. A Hindi-speaking guy came up to me and said that I did a great job in ‘Mayaanadhi’ film. I was taken aback and wondered how a Hindi-speaking person watched the Malayalam flick. And moreover, I thought how he could recognize me and felt proud of being a film actor.
If given a choice to pick a film personality as your co-traveller, whom will you choose?
I love to hit the road with my best friends. I can set on a journey with any of my friends such as Roshan Mathew, Shruthi, Darshana and Shanthi. These friends know me inside out and I am very close to them.
Not long ago, I went to McLeod Ganj, which is an incredible place, in Himachal Pradesh for the shoot of the film ‘Kattu Kadal Athirukkal’. I, along with Anu Mohan, used to go for long walks early in the morning before the shoot begins and explored the whole area.
I definitely want to travel around the world as I am passionate about travelling. Though all destinations that are worthy of a visit should be explored, I badly want to tour the European countries. If given an opportunity, I want to enjoy all the enchanting vistas of this beautiful world.