Nazriya opens up on her Telugu film debut ‘Ante Sundaraniki’ and her discussions with her husband Fahadh Faasil on the fickleness of fame

Actor Nazriya Nazim opens up on her Telugu debut ‘Ante Sundaraniki’ and how she and her husband Fahadh Faasil are acutely aware of the fickleness of fame

Actor Nazriya Nazim opens up on her Telugu debut ‘Ante Sundaraniki’ and how she and her husband Fahadh Faasil are acutely aware of the fickleness of fame

Ante Sundaraniki, directed by Vivek Athreya and co-starring Nani, marks Nazriya Nazim’s debut in Telugu cinema. This is a new territory for the actor who has so far worked in Malayalam and Tamil cinema. During this interview at the Mythri Movie Makers production office in Hyderabad, Nazriya points out the coincidence of her husband Fahadh Faasil making his Telugu debut in Pushpa – The Rise, backed by the same production house: “I had committed to Ante Sundaraniki a few months before Fahadh had given his nod to Pushpa. To a small extent, I think my decision to do a Telugu film might have made him say yes to Pushpa. Unlike me, he is skeptical about working in a new language.”

Nazriya remembers listening to writer-director Vivek Athreya’s narration over a Zoom call, in Tamil. “I was fully immersed in the narration and in no time, the language of the film stopped mattering to me. I was in love with the story. There is a lot of humour; the characters are true-to-life and beneath that layer of fun is a story narrated with a lot of heart. What is shown in the promos, about interfaith marriage, is only one part of the story. Only at the end of the narration, did it sink in that I will have to learn Telugu.”

Storm within

Ante Sundaraniki traces the lives of Leela Thomas played by Nazriya and Sundar Prasad played by Nani. Being Leela, says Nazriya, was an interesting journey: “She is more restrained than me but much stronger.” Off-screen, Nazriya is known to be a livewire, and says the toughest part of being Leela was to convey her turmoil without ostensibly breaking down: “Leela is not the kind to shed copious tears. I needed to emote such that viewers know there is a storm brewing within her, even though she appears calm.”

Nazriya Nazim

Nazriya Nazim
| Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Nazriya took the help of a language coach, Divya, who is adept in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu: “I drove Divya nuts. I wanted to know every Telugu word in its context, with the intonation. Initially, comprehending simple words such as ala, ela, ila also took time. Before the film went on the floors, I learnt not only my lines but also everyone else’s. When I went to shoot, language was not a big concern.”

Vivek Athreya and Nani have often shared their appreciation of Nazriya for learning Telugu swiftly. Athreya states that she could almost match up to Nani’s fast-paced Telugu. Nazriya laughs it off saying, “I am a good actor, I can act like I can do it well. Nani’s Telugu used to go over my head. He usually speaks fast. In this film, it is even faster.” 

Nazriya dubbed for the Telugu version over 10 days and incidentally, did not dub for Tamil (Adede Sundara) and Malayalam (Aha Sundara): “Usually I take two to four days to dub for a film. But here I was, dubbing for 10 days in Telugu. Given the time constraints, I could not dub in Tamil and Malayalam though I wanted to.”

Nani and Nazriya in ‘Ante Sundaraniki’

Nani and Nazriya in ‘Ante Sundaraniki’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

She plans to watch Ante Sundaraniki with the audience in Hyderabad on June 10 and mentions that Fahadh, who is filming in Salem, Tamil Nadu, is also keen to watch the film on day one. In between her pre-release promotions, Nazriya watched Vikram and is all appreciative: “It is an amazing film and a sheer joy to watch Kamal Haasan sir on screen. Of course, I liked my husband’s work as well. The biggest high for Fahadh, in Vikram, was to be around Kamal sir; and he loves Lokesh’s (director Lokesh Kanakaraj) work.”

Fickleness of fame

A glance at Nazriya’s filmography and one would know there is no fixed pattern. She admits she chooses her films instinctively and is not here for the rat race. The lack of addiction to the spotlight, she says, stems from debuting as a child artiste and getting appreciated even before she could comprehend it. “As I grew up, I knew that I cannot let everything that comes with fame control my life. I love cinema and each time I accept a film, I go all out to do my best. But cinema is not the only thing I value in life. I am lucky to work in a field that I love and blessed that people welcome me with warmth each time I do a film. As and when I like a script, I say yes.” She pauses and goes on to add, “Quite often, Fahadh and I discuss how we are in an industry that is so unstable; A lot depends on how an actor looks or the success of the previous film. I say yes only when I am truly excited about the script. In the case of Ante… I am excited to watch a fun film after all the recent big, intense action dramas.”

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