Anna Ben on how she became Sara in Jude Anthany Joseph’s ‘Sara’s’

The actor says her character in ‘Sara’s’ will be unlike what she played in her earlier hit Malayalam films

Anna Ben and her sister have watched Ohm Shanthi Oshana (OSO) several times. The 2014 coming-of-age Malayalam rom-com has acquired cult status with youngsters, akin to Premam. So when Jude Anthany Joseph, director of OSO, approached her with his new film Sara’s, she was “very excited”.

This film is slated for release on Amazon Prime Video on July 5.

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She is glad that she got to do the entertainer, different from her three earlier films. Unlike her characters in films such as Kumbalangi Nights, Helen and Kappela, Sara’s is different in tone. Anna says, “ It is an entertainer with drama, music and humour.”

Becoming Sara was not difficult for her; Jude gave her complete freedom to portray the character. A bonus was that it was relatable.

“For instance, for Kappela, I went to the location a few days in advance to prepare. Plus, there was the director’s input. My character, Sara, works in the film industry and that background was relatable to me.”

Anna Ben with director Jude Anthany Joseph on the set | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sara’s is about a young woman’s freedom of choice — whether or not she wants to have a child. “I found the subject interesting. Stories told from differing perspectives make me curious. This is a family-oriented film, but it is thought-provoking as well. The response to a girl’s freedom of choice is mixed. It is not always seen positively, even today. This topic is addressed in a lighter, entertaining manner.”

The film was shot just after the first wave of the pandemic, after restrictions were eased. “We had apprehensions and fears, but the production team made sure everyone on set took all safety precautions.”

Since her debut in 2019, with Kumbalangi Nights, Anna’s films/roles have been author-backed, female-oriented. However, she denies it is a conscious decision. “It has to be a project that excites me. I am willing to work hard and I am not fussy about being the lead. If we were to speak about Helen or Kappela… the stories were powerful. It did not matter who the female or male lead was. In its entirety, the films would have clicked. I look at a project as a whole when I consider it.”

Sara’s is special for another reason; she acts with her father Benny P Nayarambalam. This would be the veteran scenarist’s first substantial role in a film. “I never imagined I would act with Pappa in a film. Although he has always wanted to act, he put it off for writing. Jude pushed him to act. Earlier this year, he appeared in Aashiq Abu’s segment in the anthology film Aanum Pennum. But Sara’s will be the first time his character appears for a considerable time duration. Pappa has plenty of theatre experience, so getting into the role wasn’t difficult for him. He nailed it.”

With her films streaming on OTT platforms, Anna has been getting a lot of positive feedback. Helen, especially, has a lot of fans in Tamil Nadu, she says.

Sara’s has been made for an OTT release; it is Anna’s first such project. “One of the very few positive things to come out during the pandemic is the growth of OTT platforms. As an artiste, this is a great opportunity to connect with audiences. We are all watching more regional content.”

Having been confined to her house for close to three months now, she says, “My friends are working from home and are busy; I haven’t stepped out. My timelines are completely off since I cannot venture out for work now.”

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