Odyssey into the life of a woman

Odyssey into the life of a woman

Odyssey into the  life of a woman

It’s not every day that a woman protagonist gets to carry a film entirely on her shoulders and even rarely, does an actress get to play a role that is completely different from her in demeanour and soul, and yet make the world believe they are one and the same.

With such characters few and far between, especially, on the Indian screen, actress Lakshmi Gopalaswamy’s role in the Kannada film, ‘Vidaaya’ (Farewell), sounds refreshing in that it attempts to peel out the many layers in a person.

In ‘Vidaaya, directed by National-award winning P Seshadri, which will release today, she plays a woman who has to plead for euthanasia for her husband on his request. While any talk on euthanasia stirs a hornet’s nest every time it comes up, this is a subject not much dealt with on the screens.    
 “‘Vidaaya’ is going to be ever relevant as it is a beautiful narrative in the backdrop of passive euthanasia,” says Lakshmi.

“With Aruna Shanbagh’s death fresh in public memory, we thought this was a good time to release the film. I would say the film is about sensitising people to the issue of euthanasia. The story is that of a couple, Meera and Vasu, and how Vasu after meeting with an accident, is left in a vegetative state. The story is how the wife is holding forth amidst financial, emotional and social hurdles and continues to nurture him. On her husband’s request, she files a petition for euthanasia. There is also a social angle to it as she is scorned by the public for doing so. You also have the man’s perspective, with him watching the world through his flat. There are lovely sub-stories connected to it. ” 

For Lakshmi, it was not easy to delve into the mind of the character initially. “But once I internalised the character, I could go with the flow. I had to portray a woman, who looked emotionally drained and with fatigue written largely on her face. It took me a couple of days to tune into the role and I had to hold the mood day in and day out. But I have to say I enjoyed the struggle. And these are films made on small budget, so you don’t have a lot of time for retakes,” she says.   

The narrative, she points out, comes through poignantly with the locales at once striking and aesthetic. “We shot in the virgin location of Bengere near Udupi. It is a fishing village with scattered houses painted in peacock blue, orange, yellow and with bright blue waters, which reminds you of Europe. And all this set against the backdrop of coconut trees. We also shot in some lovely churches in Mangaluru,” she reminisces.

How does she expect the film to be received since it is not the usual potboiler? “We can only hope to initiate a debate on this complicated issue. The film is of 98 minutes and has already been shown at two international film festivals. The good part is that it has subtitles. ” Lakshmi, who is currently pursing in PhD in bharatnatyam, also has an interesting film coming up in Tamil, which is a take on reality shows. On the other hand, her yet-to-be released film in Hindi, ‘Carbon’, was based a true story. 

“I’m always happy to do woman-centric films. I also believe cinema can be a catalyst for social change and I feel films like ‘Vidaaya’ needs support,” she adds.

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