Kalyani, the daughter of popular director Priyadarshan and actress Lissy, made a great debut with the Telugu film Hello. “Acting comes naturally to me as I have seeing and learning from my parents right from my childhood,” says Kalyani.
Interestingly, though she wanted to be launched by her own family either in Malayalam or Tamil film industry, she unexpectedly made her debut in Telugu opposite Akhil Akkineni. “When director Vikram Kumar was looking for a female lead for this film, somebody told him about me. He saw my portfolio and approached me and I felt that it was a perfect launch,” says Kalyani about her debut.
However, unlike many others, she didn’t go to any acting school or take any acting classes. “I grew up watching film shootings as I always accompanied my father during my holidays. So I was not scared about facing the camera nor did I go to any acting classes,” she shares. But Kalyani did do theatre in New York, which helped her in acting. “While doing my architecture from the Parsons School of Design, I also did theatre,” says the actress.
So, why did she choose to do architecture? “It was just an option. If I failed in acting, I wanted to have a backup, thus I chose architecture. I learnt painting as well,” she reveals.
Kalyani’s father has worked in all the South Indian languages, so he knows many actors. “Yes, many of them are like my family. I saw Nagarjuna sir when I was a child and met him again for this film. He treated me like his daughter and I used to call Ramya Krishnan as Ramya aunty as she is our family friend,” says Kalyani, adding that it was very difficult to do a Telugu film. “Since I didn’t know the language at all, I struggled for the first few days, but later, I was able to understand Telugu. If you want to give a good performance, you need to know the language,” she says.
Did her father give any advice? “My father told me that Vikram Kumar is a very good director and to follow whatever he says, which is exactly what I did,” says Kalyani. As for the film, she reveals, “My mother cried for nearly 10 minutes after the film got over. She was so happy and couldn’t contain her emotions after watching my performance. My father usually talks a lot, but he kept mum and just hugged me. Both my parents are very happy.”
Praising her co-star Akhil, she says, “He is a very dedicated person and works hard. He is genuine and a great co-star.”
Interestingly, Kalyani was a foodie and chubby as a child and shed almost 25 kilos after she decided to take up acting. “Now, I go to the gym regularly and exercise to keep fit,” says the actress, who also plays badminton. “I play the sport for fun and represented my school when I studied in Singapore,” she says.
Now, Kalyani is getting a lot of offers in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. “But I like the Telugu film industry and the way people encouraged my debut film,” says the actress, who confesses that she loves Hyderabadi food, especially biryani.
Unlike many actresses, who are accompanied by their parents on shoots, Kalyani’s parents never visited her on the sets. “They did not accompany me anywhere, reveals the actress, adding, “The entire team of Hello treated me like their own family member.”
When asked if she would consult her father on future film projects, Kalyani replies, “My father has told me that I am the better person to judge a subject and has left it to me. So I will take a call, but seek his blessings whenever I sign a film.”
With a director for a father, will she take to direction too? “I would love to, but now, my focus is on acting,” says Kalyani, adding that she will soon announce her second film, possibly in Telugu....