“It was difficult to jump from one genre to another, from Mahanati to Penguin though both were women-centric roles”

By Team Bollyy
New Update
“It was difficult to jump from one genre to another, from Mahanati to Penguin though both were women-centric roles”

KEERTHY SURESH tells JYOTHI VENKATESH in this digital interaction that that she felt that her role in Penguin scheduled to be dropped on Amazon Prime Video was so challenging that not even for a moment did she feel that she was actually required to play a pregnant woman, that too with a child. The film Penguin, produced by Karthik Subbaraj, and directed by debutante Eashvar Karthic will have a direct release on Amazon Prime Video on June 19. The film starring Keerthy Suresh will be the next big release on the streaming giant Amazon Prime Video.


The trailer of the film was released by Mohanlal, Dhanush and Nani in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu respectively. The film is about a missing child and the subsequent events which lead us to a serial killer who preys on children and eerily sports a Charlie Chaplin mask. Keerthy Suresh, whom shot to fame with her award winning performance in the biopic on the late actress Savitri Ganesh, essays the role of the pregnant young woman Rhythm in Penguin, who sets out to solve the puzzle and retrieve her missing child and uncovers the bitter truths about the serial killer.

What is the film Penguin all about?

The character of Rhythm, that I play is leading a happy life and about to have her second child, but is traumatized by nightmares in which she sees an ‘umbrella man’ who is a blend of Charlie Chaplin and Hitler harming her lost son. She sets off on a dangerous journey along with her trained dog to unravel the secrets behind the nightmares and to protect her loved ones.


Why did it take you two years to be seen in a film like Penguin after Mahanati?

It is all just about what offer comes in your way. I’d say that it took a while for me and Penguin to meet.

What is the relevance behind the title Penguin?

There is a certain rationale behind the title Penguin. Contrary to popular belief, the Antarctic species are more than just cute and harmless birds. They can even get mad and turn violent. Eashvar chose to give the title as Penguin because penguins are very dedicated parents. Just like the character that I am playing in the movie, the birds endure harsh weather to protect and nurture their off springs.


In what way is Penguin different from Ponmagal Vandhal, which was also streamed on Amazon Prime Video?

Penguin shares some similarity with the recently released Jyotika-starrer Ponmagal Vandhal, which was set in the backdrop of Ooty, a chilly hill station, where young children went missing, but while Ponmagal Vandhal was a courtroom ‘message’ film, Penguin promises to be a full-fledged edge-of-the-seat thriller, with a difference.

What was your inspiration to play the role of Rhythm?

When it comes to inspiration as an actor, I have always been on a different zone. I do not try to get into the ‘hang’ of my character and just leave myself at the hands of my director. The director knows everything about the intricacies of the character since in the first place it is he who has written the subject.

How demanding was your role in Rhythm?

It was physically very demanding because it was for the first time that I was acting in a thriller movie which was also an action film as I had to fight like a pregnant woman by maintaining my own pace. It is not at all easy to carry your own belly throughout the shooting, you see!

Is the story based on a real life incident?

A few years ago, a friend of director Eashvar Karthick had shared with him his personal experience of travelling by a train from Mumbai to Chennai when he realized that his pregnant lady co-passenger had lost her child during the journey and had set out to retrieve the child by fighting against all odds.


Your last release was Mahanati (Tamil and Telugu). Were you not skeptic about playing a pregnant mother with a kid in Penguin?

The way Karthick narrated the role to me was so dramatic and endearing that I did not know that four hours had elapsed since he had begun the narration. I felt that the role was so challenging that not even for a moment did I feel that I was required to play a pregnant woman with a child. I had no inhibition at all to play the mother of a pregnant mother with a kid, who is kidnapped. It was actually the script which did the trick and I forgot all about whether playing a role like this will affect me or not. It was a really challenging script

In what way did Mahanati help you get your subsequent offers in films?

The film definitively played a very salient role in getting me an opportunity to get many women centric films.

What is your role in Penguin?

It is a very challenging role for me as an actress. There is so much of meat in the role in this emotional thriller. Penguin has definitely been one of the most exciting and interesting projects that I’ve worked on. As a mother, my character Rhythm is both gentle and caring, but she is also fiercely determined. She is complex as well as authentic, something I believe will strike a chord with the audience.

How do you feel having played the role of Rhythm in Penguin?

On a personal level, as an actress, I think I have grown as an actress over the past couple of years and hence feel more responsible. I feel there is a lot more responsibility on my slender shoulders especially after I won the national award for Mahanati.

What kind of preparations did you have to do to get into the skin of your character in Penguin?

When I started acting in the film Penguin, I had actually lost a lot of weight but Eashvar asked me to put on weight. He wanted to get for the film the correct color palette and costume. My mother Menaka who was a popular actress in Malayalam films helped me a lot with her inputs too. We shot for the film for 35 nights.

Is it true that you are also making your debut in Bollywood ?

I was to make my debut in Hindi films as the heroine of Ajay Devgn, with Maidaan, a film that represents the glorious decade of Indian football, but as of now I am not doing any Hindi film per se. Right now I do not have even a single project in Hindi.

Instead of theatres, Penguin is now all set to be streamed on OTT!

I am quite excited because it is after a big gap of two years after Mahanati that a film of mine is being released. I did not choose the OTT but it has happened because of the pandemic. It has its own advantages as well as disadvantage. I have butterflies in my stomach, but I am very confident that Penguin will connect with all the mothers in the world, because it sets out to talk about motherhood and all the sacrifices that a mother makes in the world.

Is there any pressure when you act in a film which you have to carry on your shoulders as there is no big hero in the film with you?

The pressure has increased manifolds after Mahanati, especially because I had also bagged the national award for my performance in it. For my role as Rhythm, I had to put in a lot of preparations, especially as I had to crack the exact look of a pregnant woman with a child. It was very challenging for me as an actress.


Is there any memorable incident during the shoot that you cannot forget till date?

Yes. One day when it was raining heavily in the dense forest where we were shooting, several unit members were stung by the bees and hurt badly and we had to even cancel the shouting for a day. Thankfully I escaped unhurt

How difficult was it to shoot for a film like Penguin as compared to being part of a biopic like Mahanati of actress Savithri Ganesh?

The big jump from one genre to another was not only tough but also very difficult but considsering the fact that Penguin is a thriller, it was quite though to shoot for the film at Kodaikkanal in winter in the wee hours of the morning but not even once did I question myself what I was doing. It was a group and it was fun shooting.  I could get into the skin of my character thanks to the implicit trust that I had in my director Eashvar Karthic.

Which are the forthcoming films in your kitty as of now?

After Penguin, the films which are in my kitty as of now are Priyadarshan’s Marakkar: Arabikkadalinte Simham, Miss India, (Telugu) Rang De and Annathe(Tamil). The film, Marakkar: Arabikkadalinte Simham with Mohanlal and Suneil Shetty set in the 16th century is said to be made on a mammoth budget of Rs 100 crore.

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