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I don’t want to be a copy of Sai Pallavi- Cinema express

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Pooja Kannan, who recently made her feature film debut with Chithirai Sevvanam, directed by Stunt Silva, isn’t a new face in South India. She has been in the limelight ever since her sister Sai Pallavi became a star, due to their strikingly similar features. This is why the young actor is cautious about mirroring her sister. “There can be only one Sai Pallavi. I don’t want to be a copy of her. I grew up watching her, so it is natural for me to get inspired by her. But I am trying to avoid her mannerisms and styling in every way possible,” she says. 

Pooja has been accompanying Sai Pallavi to sets and dubbing studios over the years, and seeing her sister perform kindled the interest in her to become an actor. “Initially, I would travel with her for fun, but slowly, I have realised that cinema is my calling. I took my time to reveal it to everyone as I feared that it would invite criticism from those who would compare me with her.” 

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After making baby steps into acting with the short film, Kaara, in 2017, she has been waiting for ‘the right script to come her way’. “I got a few offers, but I told directors I was not done with education. Deep down, I wasn’t confident enough, but yes, the perfect story did not come my way. When Chithirai Sevvanam was narrated to me, I knew it was a great fit.” Incidentally, director Vijay who has written and co-produced the film, also launched Sai Pallavi in Tamil through Diya. Pooja immediately clarifies that choosing to do Chithirai Sevvanam was not influenced by Sai Pallavi at all. “Akka made it clear that she wouldn’t interfere in my decisions. I told her the news only after signing the film.” 

This Social Works graduate agrees that being on the sets for several years has given her an upper hand over other debutantes. “I have a fair knowledge about cameras, script and lighting. So, the jargon used on the sets wasn’t alien to me when I faced the camera.” She likes ‘happy films’. “I love films that make me feel happy—even those that don’t have great writing. If a film makes me smile at the end, that is good cinema.” She adds that she learnt to appreciate intense cinema only in recent years. “I loved Visaaranai and Asuran as much as the feel-good films I enjoyed before. Now, I am able to see both extremes.”

She hopes eventually to join the big league of actors like Keerthy Suresh and Aishwarya Rajesh, whose work she admires a lot. She sees the chance to work with a seasoned performer like Samuthirakani to be a huge blessing and a step in the right direction. “Kani sir makes you feel at home. Within a day, I started seeing my father in him. During the emotional scenes, he would cry without glycerine and seeing him break down was enough for me to get into character. He kept saying, ‘Nalla enjoy panni pannu ma!’ I hope to remember this mantra for the rest of my career.” 

Chithirai Sevvanam touches upon serious issues like the NEET exam controversy and cyber sexual abuse. Asked about her views on the medical entrance exam, Pooja says, “I don’t really have first-hand experience, nor do I know those who have appeared for the exam. However, I feel everyone must be given an equal platform to study whatever they want.” She also believes that anyone affected by cybercrime should fight the issue legally. “Women should not feel ashamed. Our film shows how two different people process the same issue.”

For now, she is taking it one step at a time and doesn’t really have any great future plans. “I just want to keep doing roles that I can do justice to. Hopefully, Chithirai Sevvanam will pave the road ahead for me.”





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