“I was…unsure of whether I wanted to act..” – Arya Menon

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She may have taken the back seat in a supporting role for Chak De India but Arya Menon is now ready to take the industry by storm. With a prominent regional cinema release slated for later this year, this newcomer is on a mission to steal your hearts very soon. BollySpice got up close and personal with this rising newcomer, and we were left in awe of the intelligence that graces this young lady! So read on and find out just why Arya Menon is someone to look out for!

Firstly since you’re a new face to the audiences tell us a bit about where you are from and how being part of the film industry happened for you?

Hmmmm… I am Malayali by birth. I have been in boarding school ever since I was four so I’ve been in Ooty, Kodaikanal and Bangalore. I was studying Mass Communication in Bangalore and all geared up to do a course in film direction and production when auditions were being held for the film. I went for the audition since it was a holiday and was called back a month later.

Debuting with Yash Raj is considered to be quite an honour. What were your expectations when you got the role in CDI and did they come true?

Yes, debuting with Yash Raj Films is indeed an honour. About my role and my expectations from the role and the outcome, all I would like to say is that it was more of a personal experience for me. I got to meet some wonderful people, had some out of the world experiences during filming and training and made some amazing friends. I am sincerely grateful for the experience.

Shahrukh Khan must have been a delight to work with and from speaking with Shilpa, Tanya and Seema we know he was quite a sport on the sets. How was your experience working with him and was there anything special you took away from this experience?

Yes, he was really sweet to all of us. He used to give us tips here and there during filming. He used to play football and hockey with the entire cast and crew after we wrapped up filming for the day. But what inspired me the most was his energy on set. He used to tell us to treat every shot we gave as the last one we would ever give in front of the camera. That way we would give it our all.

Post Chak De India we hear you will be starring in regional cinema projects, namely Telugu cinema. What prompted this decision?

It wasn’t a conscious decision at all. Before Chak De released I had already decided that I would work in South Indian films provided the opportunity came my way and as long as the offers were good. I’m comfortable with some of the South Indian languages although not entirely fluent in them. I’m also very familiar with the culture and norms there. Besides, I was also offered a Telugu film before Chak De but had decided against it for some reason.

Can you tell us a bit about your role in your upcoming Telugu movies and how they differ from Gul Iqbal?

The first one is a love story directed my Srinivas Balla and my co-star is Shashank. For starters, Gul Iqbal was one of the supporting cast members and this film has me in the lead. Gul Iqbal was supposed to be a soft demure little girl who was very low on self confidence and under a lot of pressure from her family, and in this film I play a very dignified girl who is very confident and sure of herself.

Now that you are working in a different industry how is the atmosphere there and how does this differ from the Hindi film fraternity?

Well, there aren’t too many differences really. Just that three to four languages are spoken at the same time on set down South since all the technicians are normally from all over the South. It’s fun though. I get to learn a bit of each language that way.

Has it been challenging learning a new language? What sort of preparation have you been doing?

I wouldn’t say it is challenging learning a new language. But yeah there were times aplenty when the schedule would change and we’d have to do some new scene due to technical problems and things. In such cases I had to learn lengthy dialogues on the spot, and that was tough although manageable. Also, my director wanted me to get my pronunciation and modulation right. That was a bit of a challenge. I was also warned about the dance moves since they’re about ten times faster down South. But it was fun shooting the songs too.

Apart from this upcoming South project what are some other roles we can look forward to seeing you in?

Apart from this film, I haven’t signed anything as such. I did get some offers here and there which weren’t quite up to the mark. I don’t think I would want to be a part of a film in which all I do is sing and dance. I would prefer to do something a lot more substantial than that. I did work hard for this film, and I want people to watch the film before they approach me with other roles.

When you started off in cinema and after the success of CDI did you imagine yourself at a particular position in your career in a certain amount of time? In other words have you set goals for yourself in terms of the roles and films you’d like to be a part of?

Hmmm… I was nineteen when we started filming Chak De and was still unsure of whether I wanted to act or assist in direction. Once I’d decided and once the film had released I did set some goals for myself, but I was still trying to figure out a lot of things at the same time and trying to understand how the industry works. Not that I’ve figured out much now but yeah, I did sit idle for six months trying to figure out where I would fit in. I anchored a show for a while and decided that it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I suppose the format of the show didn’t excite me much. Anyway, I know the kind of films I want to do and I think I know where I fit in now although that is subject to change over a period of time.

Is it a myth about the existence of strong clans/camps and the casting couch in the film industry?

Like I said earlier, I’m still trying to figure out how the industry works. I’m not sure about the clans/camps within, but yes you do notice some strong friendships/bonds but that is also because of the comfort level among the group of people who work together one movie after the other. I don’t see anything wrong in that. About the casting couch, I’m happy I haven’t experienced anything of that sort although I do hear of incidents from time to time. The casting couch is definitely not a myth, but I’m sure it’s not as bad as it used to be in the past (from what I’ve heard). Either way, I am a no nonsense person and God help whoever tries to act fresh with me. Hahaha

Moving on to your off-screen persona, how has life changed post CDI? Do you think it’s quite easy to be swept away with stardom? How important do you think it is to stay rooted?

After the release of CDI I moved to Bombay which is probably the biggest change I went through. I’m still to finish my degree. Not much has happened there. Haha… I’m working on it – going to work on it is more like it. Yeah, it’s really easy to be swept away by stardom. I’m not sure if my bit of the role in CDI was actually a blessing in disguise as I got to sit back and notice the changes. Off-screen I am a reserved person unless I’m in an environment which is familiar to me or in company of my closest friends. I have come across people who think I’m awfully quiet and stuck up sometimes. I can’t help that. I take my time to open up with people. It is so important to remember where you came from and stay firmly rooted. You never know when all of it is going to get to you.

Now that you’re working full time what are some things you take time out to do on your days off?

I wouldn’t say I’m working full time. My schedule is such that I’m required to work only for a fortnight to twenty days a month. The rest of the time I spend time with my friends – coffee, movies, house parties, etc. I also try and spend time with family once in two months. They live in Cochin so I go there when I can ideally. I would like to try my hand at wildlife photography. I can watch Discovery and National Geography 24/7. I’d like to learn cooking since I’m quite pathetic at it. 🙂 I’d also like to try theatre sometime.

Arya we’ll finish up with my special section “Prathna Pooche”. Basically its just 5 short answer questions relating to cinema. So here we go, name:

1. Three favourite actors
Aamir Khan, Jack Nicholson and Christian Bale

2. Three favourite actresses
Shilpa Shukla, Chitrashi Rawat and the rest of the CDI team… Hahah…

3. All time favourite movie/s
Love Story (Arthur Hiller), Across The Universe, Munich, IL Postino, As Good As It Gets, etc.

4. Director/s you’d like to opportunity to work with
Shimit Amin, Srinivas Balla, Mani Ratnam, Abhishek Kapoor… the list is quite long!

5. Actors/actresses you’d like to work with in the future
Aamir Khan.

Well ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. With talent, beauty and intelligence we’re absolutely certain nothing will stop this young lady! Be sure to look out for her as there is a lot more of Arya still to come! Bollyspice wishes her all the best and hopes to see her rocking on our screens again very soon!

In the mean time keep visiting BollySpice for more exclusive interview with your favourite stars!

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