A lot has happened over 13 years. A schoolgirl, who made her acting debut with Boyyfriennd, became a star and now, after all these years, she is collaborating with her first director again. Honey Rose says she is very excited. “Not just because I am working with Vinayan sir again, but because it is a movie about Mani chettan too,” she says.
The film Chalakkudikkaran Changathi is inspired from the life of late actor Kalabhavan Mani, whose role is played by Rajamani. Honey has never met Mani but could feel his presence throughout the shooting days. “Only after his demise did I realise that I had never met Mani chettan. It always felt like he was a close friend. I’m sure most of his fans feel the same way,” she says, adding how amazing Rajamani is.
“Rajamani has no similarities with Mani chettan – their facial features, voice, mannerisms and personalities are entirely different, but the way he emoted the character... he has done 100 per cent justification to Mani chettan. At many instances, the crew members felt like they were interacting with Kalabhavan Mani,” she recalls.
The late actor’s rags-to-riches life, his charity activities, nobility and the importance he gave to friendship are all featured in the film; the trailer gives a sneak peek to the references to his controversial death too. How true has the film been to the actor’s real life? Honey responds, “Vinayan sir is someone who was very close to Mani chettan; he knows several incidents in Mani chettan’s life and the duo had collaborated for several wonderful films, including Vasathiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum, which brought him National and State honours. The film is from the director’s point of view. He has made the movie as genuinely as possible. Of course, he has taken certain cinematic liberties while shooting the climax, referring to his death. I’m yet to see the final output and I’m also excited about how it will be.”
Joyous to be back with Vinayan, she says, “It was a reminder of my debut; I was very nervous and kept on asking if I was doing it right. Vinayan sir was very cool on the sets and said he was glad about my growth.”
In the film, Honey portrays Kavitha, an actress. “It’s not in reference to any particular actor but a general representation of the actors Mani chettan had worked with – the ones who hurt him, insulted him and had high regard for him,” she reveals.
Strangely, Honey seems to be typecast as an actress. Laughing, she says, “This is my third film as an actress. The other two were Ringmaster and Hotel California. I’m trying hard to avoid being stereotyped. After Trivandrum Lodge, most of the roles offered to me were of ‘the other woman’. I could dodge a lot but had to give into a few. Unlike many actors, I have no godfathers in the industry. Neither do I have friends or PR persons; this reflects in my filmography.”
While claiming to be self-made, Honey has often been vocal about casting couch in the film industry. She reiterates her stance, “Yes, there is casting couch; there’s no denying that. I too have been asked during the early years of my career. It did hurt, especially for a little girl who had stepped into the world of glitz and glamour. But I had beside me my mother who is bold enough to handle such matters. If you say no; it’s accepted as a no. Maybe your offers get affected. That’s ok. If we get to choose our comfort zone, the film industry is a very safe place.”
Safety in the industry has been a talking point for some time now, especially after the assault of an actress last year and the industry witnessing factionalism in the name of inequality, pay disparity and casting couch. Airing her views on the matter, Honey says, “I agree that there’s huge pay disparity but we need to accept that it’s a male-dominated world. If a heroine asks for a hero’s pay, she needs to ensure that her stardom would help the producer earn that money. I can’t assure that about my movie but I really hope the situation changes for good though.”
Honey is also an executive member of the actors’ guild A.M.M.A., which ran into controversy earlier this year after it decided to re-induct into its fold actor Dileep, an accused in the case. Is her stance too the same – ‘to stand with the survivor and pray for the accused’ (the infamous quote by AMMA president Mohanlal)? Explaining that she wouldn’t talk about A.M.M.A’s official decisions or stance, Honey says personally, the incident was a shock to her. “Even now, I can’t understand how it happened. An actress is never alone at any point of time; you always have people around – a safety circle comprising family, makeup artistes and drivers. That’s a privilege no other career has. I have worked with both these actors and share a great bonding with Dileep. But personal relationships apart, I salute the brave woman for fighting it instead of keeping mum. Whoever is involved in the crime needs to be punished under the law, but let’s wait until the final judgment,” she says.
The case had resulted in the formation of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) by artistes like Parvathy Thiruvoth, Rima Kallingal and Sajitha Madathil, who vouch for equality. Though not part of the collective, Honey has a few disagreements, “Initially, I too had welcomed their activities, but now, I feel that their focus is partial. I don’t know what WCC is doing for women in the industry like junior artistes, hairdressers and assistant directors. If they are doing something, I’d appreciate it.”
Come Friday, Chalakkudikkaran Changathi will hit the screens. After that, Honey will join a film with Omar and a heroine-centred movie directed by debutante Veena.