Nithya Menen in a still from Skylab. Photograph:( Twitter )
With three big films in her kitty with co-stars Dhanush, Pawan Kalyan and Vijay Sethupathi, Nithya Menen talks about her idea of unwinding in silence in a world that has fallen in love with chaos and hustle. Her most recent film 'Skylab' released on SonyLiv after its theatrical run was cut short because of the pandemic.
There’s something true and rustic about ‘Skylab’, a Telugu film starring the eccentric Nithya Menen in a leading role by debutant director Vishvak Khanderao that is now streaming on OTT. Nithya not only stars in the musical comedy but is also a part of the film as a producer as she talks to WION exclusively about her experience working in the film that is ‘a comedy of errors with a sweet message’.
With three big films in her kitty with co-stars Dhanush, Pawan Kalyan and Vijay Sethupathi, Nithya Menen talks about her idea of unwinding in complete silence in a world that has fallen in love with chaos and hustle.
Find the excerpts from our conversation:
WION: How do you feel about Skylab’s premiere on OTT given the fact that its theatrical run was cut short because of the pandemic? What were your expectations from the film when you got on board with the project – both as an actor and as a producer?
Nithya Menen: We are all really happy about the OTT release because we felt like most people who would have ideally come and watched it in the theatres could not do that. So, for me, it's another opportunity for more people to be able to watch Skylab. I want more and more people to be able to see the film in some way or the other.
I don't think that my expectations from the film were sky high, to be honest. I just saw that it was quality writing and as such quality content. Talking about the original script, I didn't get into the production part of it to capitalise on it, but to make sure that this film materialises. So I didn't expect anything as a producer. But as an artist, as somebody who wants to see good cinema being made, I got into the project as a producer.
Watch the trailer here:
WION: What made you venture into production? Which role is more satisfying – of an actor or a producer since you've tried your hands at both now?
Nithya Menen: I ventured into production because I saw a brilliant script in Skylab. I saw something that could be made into a beautiful film and as an audience, I wanted to see this film on screen….I wanted it to be made. I don't know what I enjoy more because this for me was done more for a practical purpose. It was spontaneous. It just happened.
WION: The film is a comedy-drama and a genre that you have experimented with before. How funny do you think you are as a person in real life? Are you goofy in real life or do you consider yourself a serious person?
Nithya Menen: Honestly, I've never done so much comedy before. I was actually excited about doing comedy. I think I'm a little funny in real life. Not many people know that but I can be funny. A lot of my close friends always crack up around me because it's just probably my personality, just to spontaneously say things. So, yeah, I think I am actually funnier than most people think I am. Doing comedy on screen is definitely something I thought I could not do, but I really enjoyed myself doing this and I now want to explore comedy a lot more now. I want to see how that goes.
WION: What attracted you to the character of Gawri?
Nithya Menen: I was attracted to the film as a whole – the way it was set up, it was written, it was conceived and the unique ideas that make it come together. As for Gawri, I loved her character right from the beginning. I saw her as an extremely loveable, funny, and completely not self-aware person. She thinks that she's so good at something but she's actually quite bad at it and I thought that was funny while approaching her character. I couldn't wait to play that character because nobody gives you a character like that. You’re mostly either a shade of white or black while on screen, so it was exciting to play a real character with real flaws.
WION: You have a busy slate for the year with films with Dhanush, Pawan Kalyan in the pipeline. What can you tell me about your roles in ‘D44’, ‘Bheemla Nayak’, ‘19 (1a)’? Also, anything you can share about these actors that make them stand apart from each other, your fans would love to know your camaraderie with them on set.
Nithya Menen: I got along with all three really well – Dhanush, Pawan Kalyan, and Vijay Sethupathi and it was reciprocated from their side. They are all very different kinds of people. I would love to collaborate with them again because I developed a great working relationship with all three. With Vijay Sethupathi, we didn't have too much screen time together but whatever little bit of time we had in 19 (1a), it was great. 19 (1a) is about a very simple girl and how her life intertwines with the life of a writer that is played by Vijay Sethupathi. Although they're not always together in the film, they're connected in a unique way and it's a very beautiful film. Vijay and I, even though we didn't have much to do together, we really enjoyed our time filming for 19 (1a).
With Pawan Kalyan, he and I would talk a lot. I remember Pawan saying once that he is really comfortable working with me and that I’m fun to work with. So yeah, I feel the same about him.
Dhanush is also someone very easy-going. We developed a working relationship very quickly. We are two very intense actors and people in real life so it was easy to understand each other as actors. It worked really well. Infact, Dhanush wanted me to do every film of his after that, but unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. In terms of professional collaboration we are really looking forward to what more we can do together. So yeah, I actually got along quite well with all of them. Also read: Dhanush- Aishwaryaa divorce: Rajinikanth’s fans won’t forgive the actor, feel industry insiders
WION: Apart from the Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films that you have in the pipeline, we have loved your work in Hindi cinema too – Mission Mangal with Akshay Kumar or Breathe with Abhishek Bachchan. Do you feel there is a difference in the way filmmaking is approached in both parts of the country – North and South? Do you have more Hindi-language projects in the pipeline?
Nithya Menen: The difference is not really in terms of filmmaking, it's more about cultural differences, the way that culturally certain places work. Breathe, of course, was different because that was a web series, and it was a very different space. It was not a film; films are slightly different. Hindi projects, yes, I do have a couple of very interesting things in the pipeline but not something that we can discuss at the moment. So, I'm looking forward to doing very interesting things in Hindi because breaking out of the Breathe mould was difficult. People keep seeing you or expect you in that kind of character after they have seen you do that once. I dont want to repeat myself. I want to experiment.
WION: How was your New Year’s celebration? Anything worth mentioning you did to unwind in the holiday season?
Nithya Menen: Actually, for me, I just kind of acknowledge it internally in some way like, ‘okay it's a new year’. It’s a very internal process for me. I don't think I've ever done anything externally like socialising or anything just because it's new year's. Most of the time I've been working, so I was working on the 31st as well. On the 1st (Jan), I was just by myself in my house....resting.
WION: You also happen to be a talented singer. Do you wish to explore that talent of yours too, much like acting in the future?
Nithya Menen: Yes, I am a singer and I do want to explore. In fact, I've already started doing that. We've already recorded a couple of tracks and I want to release my first track sometime mid this year. So that's another very exciting thing that I'm looking forward to. I really want to sing more and more professionally.
WION: How do you unwind after a hard day of work? Anything you love besides acting and singing?
Nithya Menen: I need a lot of time by myself after work because the work is very intense, like people-intense. It's full of people, it's full of having to interact with a lot of people. So, for me, unwinding means complete silence and complete isolation. I just go back to my room, I shower, I eat something nice depending on how hard the day was. I like to eat something that is soothing and nice for me. I just remain in silence. I just do my own thing. I prefer not to talk to many people.
‘Skylab’ released in theatres on December 3. It’s a fictional tale inspired by incidents surrounding the fear of NASA’s space station Skylab crashing in Karimnagar on July 11, 1979. The film stars Nithya Menen, Satyadev Kancharana, and Rahul Ramakrishna in pivotal roles. It is currently streaming on SonyLIV.