Donning many hats

Published May 4, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Updated May 4, 2019, 1:15 am IST
Perhaps the best person to compare the industries, Dhanya sheds light on the similarities and the differences.
Dhanya Balakrishna
 Dhanya Balakrishna

Ever noticed the fact that millennials refuse to be pigeonholed into a slot and would much rather put their hand in many different pies. It does not matter if the particular pie comes off fully baked or half baked, but brownie points are surely warranted for the effort. The same phenomenon is increasingly being seen in tinsel town with many of the younger crop crossing the gender divide and donning several hats -- those of a singer, producer, writer, dancer, entrepreneur and even director. The new buzzword seems to be ‘multifaceted’. By that yardstick, the very beautiful, lissome beauty Dhanya Balakrishna can surely be called multi-talented.

After playing several lead roles and well-etched supporting roles in various big-budget Tamil and Telugu films, she will soon be debuting in Malayalam and Kannada. A little-known fact is that she has also co-written the successful Tamil adult comedy web series As I'm Suffering from Kadhal. There is more to her vivacious personality that she reveals as the interview progresses.


Dhanya will be stepping into Mollywood by playing the female lead opposite Chemban Vinod Jose in the upcoming film Puzhi Kkadakan. Incidentally, Dhanya is also part of the Nivin Pauly-Nayanthara starrer Love Action Drama but not in the lead role. She makes a revealation, "It was Nayanthara maam herself who suggested my name for the role in Love Action Drama. Director Dhyan was talking about a very interesting full length role in the film and mentioned that he wanted someone like Remya of Raja Rani- a character I played. So Maam asked why not ask the same actor herself? She has been my well wisher. Also my web series stood me in good stead and the deal was sealed.”


Love … is about how women stand up for their identity and independence and, as the title suggests, has love action and drama. “I cannot reveal more!” she says.  Puzhi Kkadakan, she says, came to her unplanned, “The makers were looking for actors and they happened to see my photos on Instagram and messaged me for my number — chats which I did not see. Later, they got my number from some Tamil acquaintances and called me up for further discussions.” In the movie, Dhanya plays Anna, a typical girl from a Malayali Christian family who elopes and marries a jawan. “The story progresses from when the jawan comes back after a few years. The story also looks at the political scenario and again, I cannot reveal anything beyond that,” she quips.


It has to be said that Dhanya has a very Malayali look to her. While accepting that compliment she says, “Each industry feels I look like their girl so I count it as a blessing. I have the relativity factor that works to my advantage.”  

Going back to the start of her career, Dhanya, after doing her Masters in Chennai, joined an English theatre company called Evam where she was actively involved in theatre for two years. Soon, she received a call for the Suriya starrer 7aum Arivu. She was asked to do an audition and the ball started rolling from Tamil from where she later went on to act in Telugu opposite actors like Mahesh Babu.” I have done about 15 films in Telugu and five in Tamil and now opened my innings in Malayalam and Kannada,” she informs.


Perhaps the best person to compare the industries, Dhanya sheds light on the similarities and the differences. “I feel the singular similarity lies in how proud each industry is of their nativity! I am working with very young directors in all the four industries. It is very easy to make a commercial film with mass elements but no. They all incorporate the flavor of the land into their script and that is the common factor I see.” Dhanya is born and raised in Bengaluru and language has never been a barrier for her. She admits to thinking in Kannada and states that it is important to understand her lines to imbibe the flavour and body language of her character. “It is only then that the connect with the character happens,” she informs. “Initially, Telugu was difficult to grasp, but after so many films now, I have got the grasp of it, she says.


Talking of the Malayali experience has her breaking into a laugh. “Every single day after my shoot, I sit with my associate director and learn my lines by heart. It’s like going back to school where I am attending tuitions!”  She has a reason for her tuitions. “The lip sync has to be right or else it would look like I am chewing gum. Many a time, a bad dubbing experience has ruined a film!”

Coming to her personal life, Dhanya is a trained Carnatic music singer. Her father and grandfather were both accomplished veena players with her grandfather was conferred with a Padma Vibhushan award. She adds, “I do not play veena, but I sing. I also like to travel.”


She is in talks for a project that has four female leads. “Of late, I am getting strong woman protagonist roles.”  

Dhanya has plans to co-write the second season of her web series and she reveals, “By the next year, I hope to direct a film too.” There seems to be no stopping this talented girl.