Of love, loss & limelight

back with a bang

Of love, loss & limelight

She moved from the US to India to start her career in films in 2009. Pretty and talented, Priya Anand became nationally known when she did an endearing role in English Vinglish (starring Sridevi). The actor did numerous Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films before a tragedy in her personal life made her take a break. Now, she’s back with a bang with Malayalam film Ezra with Prithviraj, and Kannada film Raajakumara with Puneeth Rajkumar. In an exclusive chat with Sunday Herald, she opens up about her career, personal loss and more:

Tell us about your Kannada film debut.
When I started out my film career in India, I had no knowledge of what to look out for. I think my Malayalam and Kannada debuts, with the biggest stars and best teams, have been the most dream-like launches for me. I got offered many Kannada films, but Raajakumara with Puneeth Rajkumar was perfect because I love director Santhosh Ananddram’s work. Puneeth is the biggest star and there was no reason to say no.

Why did you take a break from movies?
I moved to India with a lot of hope and dreams. But in between, I lost a friend who was like my little brother. He was a big part of my life and he passed away in a car accident. I lost another brother in November last year. I’ve never been through loss and it hit me hard. I also don’t support anyone financially other than myself, and I don’t have expensive habits. Money is not my motivation to work. I’m not looking to be everyone’s dream girl.
So, my decisions are based on what I’m feeling at that moment. I didn’t feel like playing pretend when life is so real and you go through something shocking like this. It took me some time to get out of it.
Fortunately, I am blessed to be able to work when I want to work and secondly, I’m able to get work after taking so much time off.

Do you think post 2013 you made some bad film choices?
I don’t think anything was the right choice or not. When things were going well — according to other people — I didn’t consciously make those choices, as I had no control over them. When you’re new, it’s not you who picks the films, it’s the films and the people that pick you. On paper, I’ve always worked with good
directors and good production houses. When things don’t go a certain way, it’s not me as an actor who has control over it, especially as a heroine. I think everything happens for a reason and I don’t regret any of those decisions. I still feel very positive.

People believe that you’re very talented and should be in a different place in your career right now.
I take that as a very big compliment! Realistically, anyone working in the film industry knows how this place is set up. I have to pick the best from the films that come to me. I’m not very aggressive in terms of pushing myself and trying to work with the top heroes — that’s not me. I like to work with people who want to work with me. I’m more comfortable in going about life on my terms than doing things to be part of a bigger star cast or film. I don’t think the hero of a film defines me. For most female actors, it’s about which hero’s film they’re doing next. And that’s just not me.

What kind of films would you like to do now?
Earlier, I did Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films as they’re languages I spoke. Now I’ve ventured into Malayalam and Kannada cinema and these are languages I don’t speak. In Malayalam cinema, for instance, they expect you to be a performer — they don’t care for skin show. Having worked in these industries as well, I feel language is not an issue for me anymore. I don’t want to restrict myself. I want to be open to life and experiences now.

What’s happening with Bollywood?
I wouldn’t have thought I was talented or people would remember me as I never did any PR and took so much time off. But it surprises me that people remember me from my work in Bollywood. We’re doing Fukrey 2 now. We just shot a
Punjabi wedding song and I’m sure it’s going to be huge when it releases. ‘Ambarsariya’ was big in Fukrey and this is going to be one of the best songs in Bollywood.


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