Dubai's radio presenter Nyla Usha back on screen.
Image Credit: Mythily Ramachandran, Special to tabloid!
'I own the voice that wakes up Dubai,' states her twitter handle.
Radio listeners of Dubai's FM are familiar with the voice of Nyla Usha.
The actress, who made her debut in Malayalam cinema with Kunjananthante Kada, is back on screen with her fourth film, Diwanjimoola Grand Prix.
Directed by Anil Radhakrishnan Menon, this film is a tribute to the splendour of Thrissur, particularly the neighbourhood of Diwanjimoola, known once for its bike racing events.
Usha plays the female protagonist opposite Kunchacko Boban, who portrays a district collector. Usha's performance as Effy, a panchayat ward member, has been much praised.
Gulf News tabloid! caught up with Usha.
What is Diwanjimoola Grand Prix about?
[Diwanjimoola] is a small area in Thrissur, in the heart of the city and situated right adjacent to the railway station and opposite the KSRTC bus station. Earlier it was a prominent neighbourhood where bike races were held, but now it is split due to over bridge works and home to anti-social activities. The story talks about a Grand Prix - a bike racing event happening here - that brings people together.
Who is Effy?
Effy is a panchayat ward member and also the daughter of a famous bike rider, Jithendran, who is now bedridden. Siddique plays Jithendran.
As a ward member, Effy get things done for [the] people around [her]. Besides that, she is also an insurance agent. Effy is a go-getter. She shares a strong bond with her father and takes care of the family. Anything to keep her father happy, she will do that. And Effy is instrumental in making the Grand Prix happen.
As Siddique's on-screen daughter, what lessons did you pick up from the veteran?
We share the same rapport off-screen too. I call him appa and he calls me effy mole and [we] keep touch over WhatsApp.
This is my third film with Siddiqueka, having worked with him in Kunjananathande Kada and Fireman. But here we share more screen space. I was awestruck with the ease with which he handles a scene. He first reads the dialogues, sits quiet[ly] for a minute and thinks over it.
There is one scene where Jithendran gets emotional. I assumed that it was a lighter scene but during the staging of this scene, [Siddique] completely changed the scene by his voice modulation and acting. And, the rest of us in that scene naturally adapted to his delivery. That was beautiful. I learnt that no matter what lines you get one actor can lift the spirits of the scene with his performance.
Siddiquekka's character is wheelchair bound, and can barely move his head. He can only express through his eyes and talk. With that limitation Siddiqueka has given a fantastic performance.
What about working with Boban?
We have been friends for a long time and we catch up when he visits Dubai. I am also close with his family. But the few romance scenes in the film made us conscious. Like Chakochan [as Boban is popularly known] mentioned, it is difficult to have a romance angle with someone you know. He is a down-to-earth person and nice to work with.
Tell us about working with director Anil Radhakrishnan Menon?
He is different from all the directors that I have worked with. He did not reveal much about my role and I did not exactly [know] what was required of the character, nor was I aware of the climax. He keeps everything on a surprise element. Even Siddiquekka did not know that his character was wheelchair bound. My director asked me to come to the sets with a clean slate. He makes everyone feel at ease and gives [you the] freedom to deliver dialogues using your techniques. And if not satisfied, he makes his suggestions. He is a cool director who does not make one feel that there is a rocket science behind acting.
Any memorable moment from the sets of Diwanjimoola -?
I was required to ride a scooter and when I mentioned that I did not know how to, nobody took me seriously. So there I was sitting on the scooter one day and we went for more takes.
For one scene I had to deliver my dialogues and start the scooter. May[be] it was the nervousness and I stepped up the accelerator and the scooter was flying. I had to put my leg down on the ground to stop it. Everything otherwise was a new experience and nice memory.
From RJing to being a star, how has life changed?
When movies happened I was just a RJ. After movies, I started doing other things including television. Last year I hosted Minute to Win last year, the international game show on [TV channel] Mazhavil Manorama. That worked well for me. Movies were a good launch pad for me, from RJ to a celebrity RJ.
Nothing has changed personally for me but the perception of people has changed. I have a huge following now on the social media.
I love being on stage and I travel all the time for television shoots and hosting stage events. It is a difficult task being in Dubai and in India and manage both. My radio has been extremely supportive. Thankfully I am in a good company and a great job environment.
What's next for you?
I have been listening to stories and I am not keen on taking up anything in haste. I am waiting for the right project.
Don't miss it!
Diwanjimoola Grand Prix , produced by Masood T.P. Safeer K.P and Sherin Vennemkattil releases in UAE on January 18.
The supporting cast includes Siddique, Nedumudi Venu, Rajeev Pillai and Vinayakan. Gopi Sundar has composed music. Alex J. Pulical is the cinematographer.
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