BAKER TURNED ACTRESS APARNA BALAMURALI IS EXCITED WITH HER AWARD FOR SOORARAI POTTRI
At the 68th National Film Awards announced last Friday, Tamil film Soorarai Pottri emerged as the biggest winner, taking home five awards, including three of the big ones–best feature film, best actor, and best actress. The film’s female lead Aparna Balamurali won her first National Award for her performance. On Saturday, the bubbly actor reacted to the win, calling her association with the film ‘life-changing’.
Aparna Balamurali was on the sets of her new movie Ini Utharam in Pollachi when the award was announced. On the sets, she took quick breaks to answer calls and then rushed back to shots so that shooting could be wound up before sunlight faded.
Aparna was expectedly in seventh heaven. Aparna had excelled in the role of Bommi, wife of actor Suriya’s character in Soorarai Pottri. Reiterated Aparna on the phone, “I am too attached to Bommi. In fact, I was influenced by other characters in the movie too. If I am performing well in the films now, it is because of the training and workshops I have attended as part of ‘Soorarai Pottri’. It helped a lot in refining the actor in me. Soorarai Pottri completely changed my views on acting. I dedicated a whole year pursuing the character,” said Aparna.
Aparna said the director gave her ample time to prepare for the role and she felt extremely satisfied as she could make all efforts to portray the character convincingly. “The award doubles my happiness. I dedicate the award to the team,” she said, though naturally, Aparna was a bit disappointed as the movie didn’t get a theatrical release. The film reached the audience through the OTT platform Amazon Prime Video during the Covid days. “It would have been a great experience had I got the opportunity to watch the film at a theatre screen along with Suriya fans, my parents, family members and our audience,” she sighed.
Aparna thanked her director Sudha Kongara profusely. “Bommi came alive due to her strong support. I became an actress unexpectedly. Now, I wish to do more characters and also at the same time explore acting,” she said, adding that the toughest part of the shooting was getting familiarised with the very typical but difficult Madurai slang of Tamil her character Bommi spoke in the movie.
“It was a life-changing journey for me to work on the film alongside such exemplary talents like Sudha ma’am (Sudha Kongara, the film’s director) and Suriya (who also won the National Award for best actor). Receiving a National Film Award for Soorarai Pottri is truly an honour as well as a responsibility to work even harder on my upcoming films.”
The 26-year-old actor has worked in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu films in a career that began with the 2015 film Oru Second Class Yathra. Since then, Aparna has worked in several films, getting noticed for her work in Maheshinte Prathikaaram (2016) and Sunday Holiday (2017) and Boney Kapoor’s latest Tamil film Veettile Visheshanga the remake of Badhai Do. Soorarai Pottri is considered to be her breakthrough role. Since the film’s success, Aparna has been working in over half a dozen films in three languages.
Directed by Sudha Kongara and produced by Suriya, his wife cum actress Jyotika, and Rajsekar Pandian, Soorarai Pottri also stars Mohan Babu and Paresh Rawal in prominent roles. The film is loosely based on the life of Simplifly Deccan founder GR Gopinath. It premiered digitally on Amazon Prime Video in 2020. A Hindi remake called Udaan is currently being shot with Akshay Kumar in lead. Incidentally, Suriya is also doing a cameo in the remake.
With Aparna Balamurali winning the National award for Best actress, the spotlight once again turns back to her award-winning character Bommi in ‘Soorarai Pottri.’ Aparna’s character is based on Captain Gopinath’s (who introduced the concept of budget airlines in India) wife Bhargavi. Bhargavi became Bommi in the film. Though Bhargavi was Captain Gopinath’s biggest support system, she never gave up on her dreams and ambitions and created her own identity.
Though the film primarily focused on Captain Gopinath’s life, Bommi was never presented as a mere shadow to him. Bhargavi was like that in real life too. When Captain Gopinath marched towards making his dream project Air Deccan a reality, Bhargavi concentrated on the bakery business. Her Bun World & Iyengar bakery continues to be popular in Malleswaram and other parts of Bangalore. In the last 27 years, her bun world has grown into a successful enterprise.
Aparna Balamurali recalls that it was a great challenge to play a real-life person. “By the time the shooting started, I had become Bommi. Since I have previously acted in Tamil, I knew the language. But I had to learn the Madurai slang required for this film before dubbing for the character. Initially, I was a bit confused about Bommi, but Sudha ma’am was helpful, and she was very adamant that Bommi should never be side-lined in the film,” says Aparna. This National award proves that her hard work wasn’t for nothing. This underlines not only Aparna’s acting talent but also Bhargavi’s unwavering spirit.