Nithya Menen who makes her OTT debut with the web series Breathe: Into The Shadows, that drops on Amazon Prime Video on July 10, says the format is right up her alley. It is the kind of work she has always wanted to do. She calls it her “best performance to date” over telephone.
The last one year has been eventful for Menen who has proven herself in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu films. In 2019 she made her Bollywood debut in Mission Mangal and also started work on her first web series. Breathe… is releasing almost on schedule, she says, adding that the planned ‘big’ promotions wouldn’t happen and most of the action would now be done remotely due to the pandemic. It is the second season of the series, Breathe, which aired on Prime Video in 2018.
Menen makes her digital debut with Abhishek Bachchan who also appears for the first time in a web series. She and Bachchan are, going by trailers, parents of a missing girl Siya. Menen reveals nothing about her role, but she does speak about the experience, the luxury of time in a web series to perform, and the space she got as actor in the series directed by Mayank Sharma.
What is your take on working in this new format. Is it different from films?
I really had a good time. There were no conventional limitations that one faces in films. This is the stuff I dreamt about. Even the environment of work — working with people on a similar wavelength was my happy space. On set there was an understanding of the emotional space that an actor requires and I got that. The idea is not usually understood, nor is an actor given that in films where there is a lot of ‘noise’ around. For an actor to really perform, they need that to get into the emotional space of the character. I miss that in films. There were fewer people on set here. I was given the environment to perform, I felt understood and supported. This is my best performance. I am looking forward to seeing it.
Has the current situation ruined the release plan?
There were plans for a big release, with a big launch and all, but due to the present situation all that changed. In fact the makers wanted to have promotions in the South, especially but now all that would be done remotely.
You once told me the format gives more time for an actor, to perform and shape the character.
Yes. There is so much time, so much an actor can do — in this case there is 12 hours of content — there is no limitation of time while doing a scene. While in films you need to be crisp, and since I am used to it; at times, on sets, I would do a scene fast and Mayank Sharma (the director) would tell me ‘take your time’. I felt pampered because of that.
Was language a problem? Is it all Hindi?
It is both Hindi and English, language was not a problem. I am comfortable with Hindi. The team was mixed, I was telling Mayank that it did not feel like a Hindi set. It was quite nice!
How did you land the role?
Mayank has a strong South Indian connect — he watches a lot of a South Indian films. He had seen OK Kanmani and knew me because of that and was familiar with my work. He wanted me to act in the series, and was insistent that I be part of the project.
And how are you handling lockdown?
I am content and happy.