My Love Affair with Kerala – Isha Talwar Opens Up!

In conversation with the gorgeous, charismatic and chirpy actress – Isha Talwar

Every heart skipped a beat as they caught her first glimpse in ‘Thattathin Marayathu’. Her gentle grace, breathtaking beauty and captivating charm stole the hearts of the Malayali audience. Her performance seemed so natural that it was as though she was living the character on screen. Needless to say, her debut with Nivin Pauly was a blockbuster hit and she became Mollywood’s sweetheart overnight! She went on to do several South Indian and Bollywood films but she was smitten by God’s own country! RITZ is in conversation with the very charismatic and chirpy actress, Isha Talwar.

Interview: Riya Sonny Datson
Photography: Shafi Shakkeer
Makeup: Samson Lei
Location: Xandari Pearl
Costume: Vero Moda

Your tryst with movies happened with Humara Dil Aapke Paas Hai as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s sister. How was the experience sharing the screen with her and Anil Kapoor?
I was just 10 when I did that role and I was quite enamoured by Aishwarya Rai. I distinctly remember that she would come in dark blue baggy trousers paired with a white T shirt and a little later, she would transform into a shy, simple girl wearing salwar kameez. I was quite baffled by the transformation (she laughs). I remember watching Anil Kapoor. There was a particular scene where he did 45 takes and he still wanted to do one more take! That was one memory that stuck with me! I also remember Director Satish Kaushik telling me that when I grow up, I’m going to be an actor but I didn’t understand what it meant back then. I now know what it meant!

You are based in Mumbai. How did Thattathin Marayathu happen?
As luck would have it, I was shooting for a commercial in Kerala and Jomon happened to be the cameraman. He mentioned about the role in Thattathin Marayathu and suggested that I audition for it – which I did. I liked Vineeth Sreenivasan the very first time I met him. He is very passionate and pleasantly happy about his work. He is the only director that I have met till date who was ready with the film’s music and to my surprise, he let me listen to it! I was absolutely blown and instantly knew that I wanted to be a part of the project. He’s so excited and involved in perfecting the film, that its success or failure is secondary. That is something you rarely find in a director! Finally, when it turned out to be a blockbuster, it came as a pleasant surprise and it was overnight stardom for us!

Having grown up in Mumbai, how did you handle Malayalam language and the culture?
Vineeth sent me the script before we started shooting and since I didn’t have too many lines, it was fine. After the success of the movie, people would walk up to me at the airport and talk to me in Malayalam thinking that I am from Thalassery! I would call it a huge compliment for Vineeth. Having been in Mumbai for so long, it was difficult for me initially to adjust to the food, people and culture as everything was very different. But over the years, my love affair with Kerala has only grown and I am considering moving to Kerala. I have lived amidst so much chaos in Mumbai, that now, I feel I could use some good Kerala energy. (she laughs!)

Were you always passionate about movies?
I have never been passionate about watching movies but I do enjoy acting. I’m in a good space now after 5-6 years of hard work. Initially it was intimidating facing the camera, different cultures, different languages – it was difficult. But now, I’m beginning to find my space and am enjoying it!

What inspires you to perform?
To understand myself better, about who I am…Any kind of performance helps you to help find a bit of grounding. The deeper you go into it, the more it helps to connect with yourself.

What would be your biggest challenges?
Right now, it would be to learn Malayalam. It is going to be a tough one but I am ready to take the challenge now!

How was it shooting for the Bollywood flick, ‘Tubelight’ and sharing screen space with Salman Khan?
It was great sharing the frame with a star like Salman Khan. I was hesitant to take up the project but since it was a formula film and everything was big and larger than life, I was told to take up the film. After Tubelight, I did learn that I need to follow my gut feeling!

What would be your biggest learning from Cinema?
You have to be honest to yourself; otherwise it doesn’t work out in the long run!

Dream role?
Any role that has scope for performance.

Fashion mantra and beauty secret?
Sometimes I feel like dressing up, sometimes I like it simple. Basically, I don’t like the made up look. Be it hair or makeup, it needs to look natural and easy. Though very few admit it, I would say meditation is the secret for looking beautiful. As far as beauty products are concerned, we’re in an age of intense consumerism and one should be careful about what is sold to you. I don’t believe in using too many creams and cosmetics. I prefer to keep itminimal.

What interests you outside of movies?
I have come to realise that interests need to break away from my work. I dance, do yoga,take singing lessons but it all comes back to performance. So as interests outside of work, I meet up with my school and childhood friends. I like to trek and backpack once in a while. I love outdoor activities, this year I plan to buy a bike!

Upcoming projects:
My Malayalam movie, Ranam with Prithviraj is ready for release. There is a Bollywood movie with Sanjay Misra, titled Kamyaab that’s expected to release in June-July.

Rapid Fire:

  • I can’t do without: My Mother
  • In my handbag: Sunglasses
  • Perfume I Love: Narciso Rodriguez for her
  • Favourite Co-star: Prithviraj
  • Biggest nightmare: Losing my memory
  • People don’t know: That I have roots in Pakistan!
  • Common misconception: That I am from Punjab!
  • I love eating: Puttu and Kadla