Nimisha Sajayan Says She Is Always Drawn To Cinema With A ‘Social Message’ - Exclusive

Nimisha Sajayan, a prominent figure in Malayalam cinema, is set to make her pan-India debut with a Netflix series. In an exclusive interview with Zoom, the usually private actress discusses her transition from the Malayalam industry to a broader audience, sharing insights into her journey and aspirations for wider recognition.
Nimisha Sajayan Says She Is Always Drawn To Cinema With A ‘Social Message’ - Exclusive

Nimisha Sajayan Says She Is Always Drawn To Cinema With A ‘Social Message’ - Exclusive

Nimisha Sajayan, a name to reckon with in Malayalam cinema is making her pan-India debut with a Netflix series. The reclusive actress, has now, in an exclusive interaction with Zoom spoken about her leap from Malayali to a much wider audience. Excerpts from an interview.

How important is it for you to use your craft to put forward socially relevant messages?

I personally have always been drawn towards films with a social message. The first thing I look for in a script is what message it conveys to the story and whether it will be discussed with the audience even after leaving the theater. I just want to be part of films that make people think, films that excite them and which they find relatable. I just want to stay true to what I do and not just be a character for the fun of it.
Nimisha Sajayan
Nimisha Sajayan

How and why did you decide to be part of your next OTT film?

I remember meeting the director for 20 minutes, and he didn't say much other than the stories about elephants poached in a forest and the basics of the case. It was an immediate yes, and I think I just said yes within five minutes because I felt we needed to read the story out to the people, especially when this happened in Kerala. I was unaware of it, and I think most people still are. I’m a huge admirer of the director; even if he had come to me for a small character, I would have said yes anyway. But, luckily, he offered me this very important character to work with. For me, getting the opportunity to play my character just made it a lot more exciting.

In fact, The Great Indian Kitchen which got you so much fame was also issue based?

After watching The Great Indian Kitchen, many people were like, 'It's a very small issue,' but it's not for others. As actors, if we can represent those issues, it would be good because we have the opportunity to say something meaningful; otherwise, we will lose the chance. And I think as an actor, it's essential to choose the right film; we need to go beyond these limitations. Cinema is art, and when it incorporates political or social issues, I think its value increases.

What was it like working with this extraordinary team for your next project?

It was something I had never experienced before, which was an incredibly creative process. So, getting a chance to experience it live on set was like nothing else. We had a very dedicated director, and I sensed it from the first time I met him. Just sitting with him and asking him anything about acting, seeing him in all the passion he has for his work, it hits differently. Roshan Mathew and I, we’ve done back-to-back 3 projects, so he is my comfort actor now, and Yohan on set. The experience of being surrounded by such esteemed individuals and talented actors was both enjoyable and highly educational.

It was the Great Indian Kitchen that brought you to a pan India audience...Do you see the fame it got you as an advantage?

I think before the release of The Great Indian Kitchen, my work was known to a limited audience in the north. After the release, I have experienced a significant increase in recognition, with a growing number of people becoming more familiar with my work now. The visibility has also led to a lot of exciting opportunities from the north. I did one Bengali film right after the release of The Great Indian Kitchen, then an English one, followed by a Marathi film, and now a Hindi one too.

How different was it shooting on the OTT platform as compared with a feature film?

The difference was that the number of days shooting takes for a web series is much more than what we usually take for a Malayalam film. But for me, the biggest challenge was that in the morning, we were shooting Episode One scenes, and in the evening, we were shooting Episode five or six scenes. So keeping track of what was happening in between was very challenging. That was a bit complicated for me. But anytime I had trouble with, say, an emotion or continuity, she was always there to help, and the director always had answers to any doubts I had. He had a clear-cut picture. So whether it was a question from the first episode or the fifth, he knew his characters well, and he was always ready with answers. So he made it much easier.

Are you comfortable doing the commercial cinema? As compared with the more natural cinema that you excel in?

I am a very greedy actor. I want to explore everything. I want to play the villain, I want to portray an unhinged character, I want to be a part of rom-com films. I have done Jigarthanda DoubleX, which is an out-and-out commercial film. But if you ask me, what's my comfort zone? I would say it's definitely natural cinema. Because I want to play characters that are more relatable. You know, when you watch a film, you should be able to connect with that character. However, I would like to explore everything as an actor.
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