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Lavanya Tripathi: It was liberating to play a sportsperson

Lavanya Tripathi on portraying a hockey player in ‘A1 Express' and exploring a new dimension in ‘Chaavu Kaburu Challaga'

It's a familiar trajectory many leading women in the Telugu film industry go through — being cast in cutesy roles and when some of the few films click at the box office, they are saddled with similar roles until they, and inevitably the audience, get tired of it. Once in a while female actors bag characters that necessitate them to go the extra mile and they are to give it their best shot. Lavanya Tripathi went through something similar before A1 Express came her way.

“I got bored of the same old roles. I don't regret any of my films because they were my choices. But after a point, the roles offered to me had limited scope. The maximum acting I could do was when a scene demanded me to get angry or cry,” she says amid laughter.

In A1 Express which releases on March 5, she plays a budding hockey player who speaks her mind. She admits that the hero, Sundeep Kishan, gets to play the central sportsperson character. Nevertheless, “I get to be a catalyst in his journey. I encourage him to take on a challenging situation so that it will inspire his contemporaries and generations of sportspersons. There's a scene where someone passes snide remarks at me; I take things into my own hands to control the situation. I don't need the hero to save me. Little things like these also make a difference,” she explains.

Lavanya was in Mumbai, on a break, attending the première of The Family Man season one, when actor-producer Sundeep Kishan showed her a video clipping and disclosed his next project. “He told me they hadn't signed anyone to play the leading lady and I told him I wanted to do it,” she recalls.

Letting go of vanity

She trained in hockey and was conscious to look and behave like a sportsperson and says it was a relief to not stress on her makeup and hair: “It was liberating; I learnt the sport, focused on the game and my body language. In one of the scenes, I get to ride a bike. Women riding a bike isn't a big deal these days but it felt good to be able to do this on screen.”

She recalls watching hockey matches and documentaries to understand the game better. In general, Lavanya says she prefers watching documentaries to movies: “Watching documentaries helps me know what happened in different parts of the world and understand human psychology.”

It's been a long wait for Lavanya and the film's team to see their project in theatres. Getting back to work after the lockdown, she observes that there's been a renewed vigour with which film crews function: “The industry has become more vibrant and busy. There's an unsaid understanding with which people work. Everyone has been through a tough time during the pandemic and is eager to work to the best of their ability,” she says.

Progressive in idea

Next up is Chaavu Kaburu Challaga directed by Koushik Pegallapati and co-starring Karthikeya. Lavanya calls herself “a hungry actor” who hasn't gotten enough opportunities to prove herself. “I am often given roles of a naive and soft girl but in reality I'm quite ‘massy',” she says.

She had known Koushik since her first film Andhala Rakshasi. He was then an aspiring filmmaker and had messaged her on Facebook: “He loved my work in my debut film and when he became a filmmaker, approached me with his story. The character I portray, Mallika, is so unlike Mithuna of Andala Rakshasi and yet, I feel it has tapped the performer in me just like AR did. Koushik is a brilliant director; Chaavu Kaburu… happens in Vizag and I play a widow. It's a progressive film and I can't wait for people to see it,” she says, signing off. Chaavu Kaburu Challaga releases later this month.

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