There is that stamp of unconventionality all over Aparna Gopinath, be it her decision to keep her hair cropped, the large glasses perched on her nose or her bohemian style of dressing. Even her career choices tend to be atypical. She is not in any rat race to stay ahead of the pack by adding numbers to her filmography. Instead she prefers to choose her projects carefully and devote a good part of her time to theatre, which she is very passionate about. Her last outing was as an activist in the Nivin Pauly-starrer Sakhavu. Her latest role is in the film Mazhayathu directed by National Award-winning director Suveeran, in which she plays the mother to a thirteen-year-old daughter. Here again, she has not shied away from playing a mother — something her peers would have second thoughts about.
For Aparna, who is a theatre veteran, such norms are inconsequential. She speaks about her reasons for taking up the character of Anitha, “When I was initially told that I would be playing a mother, I immediately said ‘it did not matter’. Once that was clear, Suveeran narrated a beautiful, emotional story of a mother-daughter relationship. I am not a mother but I do share a beautiful relationship with my mother. The role was a complete challenge in terms of the emotions that I had to go through.”
Aparna had earlier also played a mother to two children in the Rosshan Andrrews film School Bus. In Mazhayathu, the connect, bond and the depths she had to plumb to get into the character of Anitha were what challenged the actor in her. She also credits her young co-star Nandhana Varma and Suveeran for helping her transform into the character.
She explains, “I come from a city so I do not know the mannerisms of a woman from a village. It was nice to be able to go through that and feel the pain the character went through.” Also, Suveeran had a very clear picture of what he wanted in terms of who and what Anitha was — her thoughts and her mannerisms — so Aparna’s work became easy. She adds, “There was no need to undo what he said.”
Aparna is an actor well aware of her limitations and her strengths. She has never had a set criteria while choosing a role. She adds, “Theatre does not give you that luxury. When you work with multiple numbers of people you do not have the luxury of choice to do what you want and I enjoy that. I just ensure that the roles I choose are those in which I can contribute more to the character, to make it the ultimate one.”
A bagful of roles or back to back projects are the least of Aparna’s concerns. She reasons, “It gives me time to do what I love, which is theatre.” Right now, Chennai-based Aparna is busy travelling through Tamil Nadu performing for children and getting ready for her next play.