Eleven years after Thanmathra, Meera Vasudevan is back in Mollywood. “I am back home,” says the zesty actress, on a break from her shoot in Ottappalam for the movie Chakkaramavin Kombathu. Looking a decade less than her biological age and as radiant as ever, the Tamilian who spent much of her life in Mumbai says she has not got the kind of admiration affection anywhere else but in Kerala. “Even today, I am seen as an extension of Lekha by Malayalis. They still remember my face from Thanmathra,” she says. “I got busy with my family and have a two-and-half-year-old son, Ariha. Wherever I went, Malayalis would ask me, ‘why aren’t you coming back?’ I was just waiting for that good script to push me out of my slumber.”
She did act in a Malayalam movie, 916, around five years ago but describes it as a forgettable experience. “I did not like the way I was treated. I was told that I would have a 15-day shoot but in three days, I was given an advance and sent packing. There was no further news about payment or the rest of the schedule. It was a shabby way to treat a good actor.” Disappointed, she vowed not to do Malayalam again then but the pull of the industry and the love of the people were too much to resist.
She still fondly recollects the Thanmatra experience. “To work with Blessy sir and Mohanlal sir was the greatest experience of my life. It was a bit of a controversial role, the reason why many actresses had turned it down,” she says. Twenty three then, she had to put on 35 kilos for the role to look like a 40-year-old mother of two older kids and learn the nuances of Malayalam. She is excited about Chakkaramavin Kombathu, the movie she is doing now. “It is a directorial debut by Tony Chittettukulam who is a renowned writer. A dedicated professional, he is easy to relate and work with. The cinematographer Joby James is also making his debut but I am already a fan of his work. He has made me look beautiful and the visuals appealing.”
The main theme of the movie is the relation between two kids that transcends class and religious boundaries and their relationship with nature. Meera plays the aggressive mother of the protagonist played by Derick Rajan. “He is making his debut but he was so brilliant and natural that I thought he is an established actor. The other child is played by Gaurav Menon.” Acting as a mother with a negative shade was for Meera an extension of her real self. “My own child is staying behind with my parents in Mumbai. The first thing that I do every day is to make video calls to him. The same routine repeats in the night when I say goodbye.”
Is plunging into films her way of coping with yet another failed marriage? “Hardly. It was my mom who advised me early on to keep my personal and professional lives separate and I follow it,” she says before going on to talk about the break-ups. “The first one had intense domestic violence in it and I had to seek police protection to get out of it. We ended it on a mutual basis. I have never met or spoken to Vishal since then. Five years later I married John Kokken who is a fantastic human being. He is always there for Ariha. But there were certain differences...I feel it is better to stay separate and raise the child in a good way than be together and have disagreements.”
She reveals her plan to get into direction by the year-end. “I am working on a few scripts and getting my team ready. I am also assisting Bollywood director Adnan Shekh in making a Marathi movie. I am writing the screenplay for that movie too.”
Is it harder for women to establish themselves? “No, women who are talented, women who are willing to work on looking good get the opportunity that they are lookingfor,” she says with confidence. Her own flab-to-fab story illustrates the point. She touched 99 kilos during pregnancy and her weight came down to 86 after delivery. “In the next five months, I lost 18 kilos. Today I am 65 and still working on losing another five kilos. My idol is Madonna who is fit even in her 60s. I put posters of these fantastic actors and singers on my phone and each time I look at them I become determined to stay on my diet and do my workouts. Weight training comes easily and naturally to me and has not only made me look good but get over my hypo thyroid condition and vertigo.” Clearly, she is all set for a new dawn.