Chatting with Shivani is almost like a monologue — a question only needs to be asked for the actor to answer ten other questions in a very bubbly manner— punctuated with child-like enthusiasm. Shivani, who started off playing Mammootty’s sister in Annan Thampi, went on to become the heroine in Rahasya Police before starting her film innings in Tamil. Some character roles in Malayalam films later, Shivani found fame as a serial actress in Tamil and Telugu. She recently returned to Malayalam, playing the heroine in the film Nilavariyathe directed by Uthpal Nayanar. It was Shivani’s role in a Telugu serial that caught the eye of Uthpal, who contacted her. Shivani explains the rest, “When I heard about the role of Paro, the first aspect that attracted me was the acting potential in Paro, who gets married at a young age to an old man, due to certain circumstances. Unfortunately, her husband dies on her wedding night, leaving her a widow and she returns to her brother. This role had a lot of emotional moments, which gave the actor in me immense scope to perform.”
Having acted in commercial films in Malayalam and Tamil, there was a reason Shivani took up the role in Nilavariyathe that cannot be tagged purely commercial and is more art-house. She explains, “In a commercial film, there is a limitation on the female actor’s screen space. Commercial films are largely hero-dominated and even the audience usually buys tickets to see the male stars. My role models are Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Shweta Menon, etc. But I am not sure if I will get to play women-oriented strong roles like they played in commercial films. But in budget films or so called art films, there is every chance that I can get to play strong characters.”
That explains Shivani’s reasons for acting in art-house films. In fact, her next project in Malayalam is also a parallel film in which she plays a boatwoman. For someone who does not know swimming, Shivani has to shoot in the middle of the dam for her character. “I am someone who watches more of art films than commercial films and I like that genre,” she states.
The actor has a strong pillar of support in her husband — IPL player Prashanth Parameshwaran. While the general consensus is that female actors find it difficult to get work after marriage, Shivani is not willing to subscribe to that thought. She says, “I am taking cinema seriously and have lost weight under the supervision of my husband. I am here to stay in films and I currently have a Telugu film in hand.” Having a sportsperson for a husband took care of the fitness aspect and also taught Shivani the meaning of team spirit. She witnessed the bonhomie and friendship between the players — something absent in films. She says, “Prashanth is a very positive person who has asked me to look at the roles rather than the remuneration and take my decisions.”...