Isha is back from Chennai after the rehearsal of her upcoming stage show Live With The Legends, featuring talents like Prabhu Deva, Sivamani and Shankar Mahadevan. She is so excited and one could feel that in her voice. “The show is happening on April 20 in Dubai,” she says. “What is interesting is that Prabhu Deva has set the choreography for the show that is based on concepts. Part of it is a tribute to the late actor Sridevi. I thought I could meet him during the rehearsals. But he wasn't there. Now, I would be meeting him in Dubai,” smiles Isha, who was recently seen in a television soap opera Kasthuriman.
If Prabhu Deva was the factor that urged her to pick the Dubai show, she says, she chose to be a part of Kasthuriman to reconnect with Malayalis. “I have done Kasthuriman, which caters to housewives in Kerala, for visibility. It is because I haven't had a Malayalam release in a while. I just wanted to tell the audience, ‘hey, I am around.’” She did a cameo in the serial. It was a different experience for the actor. “The television set is entirely different from a film set where you have some time for yourself. In television, they go crazy as they have deadlines to meet. They have to edit the content and air it the next morning. I didn’t know so much could be accomplished in a day,” she says.
Having seen the pace of their work and the lack of quality in content, Isha says she isn't interested in doing serials soon. “At the moment, I don't want to do it again. The show may be popular, but I am looking at quality right now,” says Isha, who is still Aisha of Thattathin Marayathu for Malayalis. “I am still riding on the success of Thattathin Marayathu,” she says. “I was extremely lucky that my first feature film took off well. This is how people of Kerala connect to me. I got lucky that I picked up in Malayalam. And my heart wants to go back to Malayalam even after doing Telugu, Tamil and Hindi,” says the actor, who was later seen in movies like Balyakalasakhi, Bangalore Days, God’s own country, Two Countries and Bhaskar the Rascal.
Ranam aka Detroit Crossing is her latest project in Mollywood. If Aisha was a sweet character, Meenakshi in Bangalore Days had shades of gray. In God's Own Country, she played the role of a mother. “There is something about mothers,” she chuckles. “I don't want to do the mother's role at this point of time. In God's Own Country, I was mother to a toddler. Even in Ranam, I am mother to a 16-year-old.” But Isha believes the beauty of cinema lies in doing diverse roles. “I liked the character in God's Own Country. It was a simple portrayal. I also enjoyed doing Meenakshi for Bangalore Days. It was a shocker that worked out well.”
Meenakshi was the opposite of Aisha. “Audience were not supposed to like her and were to empathise with Nivin's character. And, it worked like that. I am glad I did it. Even while shooting at the airport, I had a doubt whether it would go negative, but Anjali said that's how it should go. I trusted Anjali completely. When a director at her level says that, ‘you shut your mouth and just do it’,” she laughs.
Ranam is about a family based in the United States. “It talks about the typical dilemma of Indian families living abroad. They want their children to follow Indian culture. My character is one such concerned mother, who has a rebellious teenage daughter. Her equation with husband (Prithviraj), the family, her struggles and how she overcomes it forms the crux of the movie.”
Why did she choose a mother character again. “I chose Prithviraj, not the character,” she chortles. “I didn't care about anything else. See, you interact with all actors at awards night. I have been yearning to work with him,” she says. “It was an outstanding experience to work with him. He is extremely cooperative and constantly brings inputs on how to make the film better.” She also recalls a sweet message from actor Mamta. “We interacted first on the sets of Two Countries. While I was shooting for Ranam, she messaged me saying she couldn’t be a part of Ranam and is glad that I am in it. That is a sweet gesture,” says Isha, who is moving to Kochi by the end of this month. “It is the first time I am moving out of my comfort zone.”
Isha is serious about the Malayalam industry, which according to her churns out the best films in India. Disadvantages like shoestring budgets and hot climate that pulled her away from Mollywood once seem like positives now. She has started learning Malayalam so that she can get better work. “For them, I am an outsider. That is the only thing that is stopping me now. Once I cross that, I would be able to act in good movies,” she feels hopeful....