Numbers Don’t Count – Leona Lishoy Opens Up!

A candid conversation with the gorgeous actress and model, Leona Lishoy

She’s like the pretty girl next door who is always cheerful and ready with a smile! Her career in Mollywood started with ‘Kalikaalam’ and she went on to do many memorable roles in movies like ‘Jawan Of Vellimala’, ‘North 24 Kaatham’, ‘Annmariya Kalippilanu’ and now ‘Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor’. It has not been a cake walk for this young actress who learnt the ropes the hard way! RITZ gets into a candid conversation with the gorgeous actress, Leona Lishoy as she talks of her movies, interests, dreams and marriage!

Text: Riya Sonny Datson

Photography: Shafi Shakkeer

Venue: Le Maritime, Vypin

Styling: Jobina Vincent & Dhanya

Hair and Make Up: Panache Hair, Skin & Bridal Lounge

Wardrobe Courtesy: Marks and Spencer

Footwear and Accessories: Aldo, Steve Madden

What was your biggest take away from the multi starrer ‘Jawan Of Vellimala’?

Initially, I wasn’t aware that it was a Mammootty starrer. I was told only after the audition that it was being produced by him and that he is the lead actor. I was excited and equally petrified! But to my amazement, he was so cool on the sets! He would interact with everyone, joke and even sing songs! I was conscious while doing scenes with him mostly because of the crowds that gathered to watch him perform. My co-star, Asif Ali, was very positive and energetic, he would encourage me, crack jokes and try to ease my nerves. I was most comfortable with Srinivasan uncle for he was so light hearted. I remember we would all have a laugh riot each time he passed a comment about anything. Although I had very few combination scenes with Mamta, I was really star struck by her. I had a lot of questions for her and she would gladly oblige and clear all my queries. In a nutshell, it was a tremendous learning experience for me and that’s where I saw the bigger picture, the sheer hard work and planning involved behind the scenes– all from the experts in Mollywood!

Although Ann Mariya Kalippilanu was a big hit, we didn’t expect to see you donning the role of a mother. Did you have any inhibitions doing the role?

I just wanted to do good characters and I never really had any insecurities doing the role. When Sunny Wayne casually mentioned about the role, I instantly liked it and wanted to do it. At first, even the director had his doubts for he felt that I looked too young.  And for a moment, I wasn’t sure too but after trying out a couple of scenes, the director seemed happy with my performance and I felt comfortable. Ann Mariya Kalippilanu had a young crew and I totally enjoyed working with the team. It was indeed a good break for me!

Your dad, Lishoy, is a very popular actor and TV star. How has he influenced your career?

Well, my dad was never really a typical ‘Cinema’ guy as one would expect. His friends were mostly within his theatre group and when it came to the film industry, he always had very professional ties. During my childhood, I don’t remember having his friends coming home for movie discussions or my going to a shooting location. In fact, he never expected me to enter the film field at all. It just happened that I was offered a good role and we decided to give it a shot. And fortunately for me, it clicked!

You have worked in other South Indian films as well. How was the experience?

I was a part of a Kannada movie which was shot in Manali. I had worked really hard for the project and I remember my skin had literally started to peel in the weather. I absolutely loved the character I was portraying but unfortunately, some issues cropped up just before its release and the movie had to be shelved. I was extremely disappointed that it didn’t get released so I don’t usually discuss about it.

“There is no point in jumping at a good script if the production house doesn’t have the capacity to release the movie.”

After putting in so much effort, how do you tackle such disappointments?

The year 2013 was a very busy year in my career and I was a part of many projects but unfortunately, most of the movies either got shelved or the shooting had to be stopped mid-way through the project.  It was really heart breaking but I learnt a lot along the way. Now I am more careful while choosing scripts and roles.

What is your criteria for choosing roles?

I have come to realise that there should be at least two strong points when you choose a project. Apart from the script and the director, the production banner is equally important. There is no point in jumping at a good script if the production house doesn’t have the capacity to release the movie. Your work has to reach the audience!

The latest trend in Mollywood now is that the current crop of actresses are being increasingly replaced by debutant actresses or actresses from other industries. Do you find that challenging? 

Yes, most definitely. I think there are plenty of opportunities for everyone today. Unlike earlier, people are more open to women accepting ‘films’ as a career too.  So, there is a lot of fresh talent now which makes it challenging for everyone. But it doesn’t worry me too much because my priority is to do good characters in good films. Quality is more important than numbers. I don’t intend to join the rat race to the top.

What do you think is your biggest strength?

My family! I can say or share anything with my parents for they understand me completely. I know I can depend on them for support at any time.

What about your weakness?

I am not too good at networking and I take time to make new friends especially in the industry.

You recently appeared in a print ad of Pothy’s with Kamal Haasan. Who is the one dream actor who you want to act with?

Mohanlal, Mammootty, Kamal Haasan, Dulquer, Nivin Pauly, Nedumudi Venu…the list is endless. I want to act with everyone possible. There are no limit to dreams, right?

Who is your inspiration? Any Dream Roles?

I love the actresses of the 90’s – Urvashi, Shobana, Revathi, Manju Warrier. They are just amazing and I really look up to them. Dream role would be to do a dance based movie where I get to play the role of a Bharatnatyam dancer!

“I just wanted to do good characters and I never really had any insecurities doing the role.”

‘Vishwasapooram Mansoor’ is a recent release, tell us about your experience and about your upcoming projects.

In ‘Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor’, I played the role of a college girl called Soumya, who I think is very much like me. I could really relate to the character and I enjoyed doing the role. My next movie is ‘Hadiya’ which is directed by Unni Pranavam. I play the role of an orphan Muslim who goes through a lot of difficult situations. It is a very intense character involving a lot of trials and emotions. I have also started shooting for Aashiq Abu’s ‘Mayanadhi’ which is produced by Amal Neerad and written by Shyam Pushkaran. The film has Tovino Thomas doing the lead role.

What is the one condition for Marriage?

That the guy should take me around the world! I love traveling! On a serious note, I am enjoying my work right now and I think marriage is definitely not on the cards – at least not in the near future!

Rapid Fire:

  • Favourite Colour: Peach
  • Beauty Secret: Natural Home remedies
  • I can’t do without: Kajal
  • Favourite Perfume: Japanese Blossom by Bodyshop
  • Interests: Driving and Sketching Wall Art
  • In My Bag Always: A Hand Sanitiser