Sunday, July 14, 2024

‘Salman Master carried me to my vanity after I hurt my leg’

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Speaking with The Pioneer, Anna Ben—who just gave a fantastic performance in Kalki 2898AD—shares details about her character, preps and other movie-related information

Aarti Sreenath
In a cinematic landscape as varied and vibrant as India’s, Anna Ben stands out as a beacon of talent and versatility. Known for her roles in films like Kumbalangi Nights, Anna has captivated audiences with her nuanced performances. In an exclusive conversation, she opened up about her experience playing Kyra in the multicultural and futuristic sci-fi film Kalki 2898 AD, offering insights into her preparation, the film’s unique blend of mythology and science fiction and her interactions with co-stars.
Anna’s portrayal required her to navigate a unique and multicultural setting. She shared, “Nagi Sir gave me small pointers on what Kyra is like. She’s an extrovert, very optimistic and has a unique POV and human relationships. Even though she’s working for a bigger cause, she has her own perspective on life and how she sees human relationships. That key element works in every other setup in the film because that’s the essence of the film at the end of the day—how human relationships are and how people value kindness and love, and that will prevail. So, I think he had that idea in her and that was Kyra. That is how I came to this very positive outlook.”
Kalki is a fascinating blend of mythology and futuristic science fiction, a combination that intrigued Anna Ben. Despite her excitement, she confessed, “Honestly, I only knew Kyra’s arc. I got a brief on the film being a futuristic sci-fi setup, but apart from that, I didn’t know about the in-depth story of how mythology is involved. I didn’t really know about most of the cameos; I only knew it once I was watching the film in the theatre with the audience.” This limited knowledge allowed her to experience the film’s surprises along with the audience, making the final viewing in the theatre a thrilling experience. “When I watched it, I was like, ‘Oh, there’s Vijay, there’s Mrunal,’ and I jumped and clapped because it was so exciting to see them in those characters. Especially because I did not see that coming. I knew certain characters were coming up, but I didn’t know who was playing certain things. It was a fantastic experience.”
Every film has its moments of challenge and camaraderie, and Kalki was no different. Anna Ben recalled a particularly memorable incident during an action sequence. “Everything about Kalki was very memorable because it was all very new for me—the whole world setup and green screen. The most memorable one would be when we were shooting an action sequence. I worked with Nick and Salman Master. We had this one sequence, which was a little bit riskier compared to what I did in the beginning. They were very prepared with everything—ropes and everything. While I was doing it, like any other action film, you get hurt at some point because it involves a lot of physical strain. There was this one point where I hit my leg on a truck when I was landing. It started hurting so bad that I could not open my eyes. I remember Salman Master running towards me and he was so scared. He carried me across to my vanity. I was feeling so embarrassed because it was just too funny to see Master doing that. Everybody on the set was so kind to me. They really took up everything and made my life a little bit easy, ensuring that I was all right. That meant so much to me as an actor and as a person working. What I’ve observed in Vijayathi’s set is that they really take care of you and prioritise your good health. That’s something that stayed with me even after the shoot.”
Sharing screen space with seasoned actor like Deepika Padukone was another highlight for Anna Ben! “I was actually nervous because of a star of that scale; I’ve never met her before and I was really looking forward to it. I was also a little anxious to see how things would be. But she was so warm and very, very professional. It was so nice to see how she handles a set, even with a lot of people around her. She always takes charge, talks about her character and interacts with the director and crew.”
The visual aesthetics and distinctive costumes in Kalki played a crucial role in bringing the characters to life. Anna Ben emphasised the importance of costumes in helping actors get into character, especially in a sci-fi setting. “As actors, we really depend on costumes to get into character, especially in a sci-fi setup. It’s very hard for you to not feel like Kyra when you are wearing all the gear and makeup. That was one thing I was so excited about. It was such a wonderful costume setup. Not just for me; each character had very distinctive costumes and accessories. We had a lot of fun doing it. Archana, the costume designer, did so much research on each character and how each element should be. If you see Bachchan sir’s character, there’s a definite quality to it. You can see that in any Marvel character too. It’s very visible in your head because it’s so detailed. The setup in general was mostly green matte, so a lot of things were in our heads more than anything, mostly in Nagi Sir’s head. He was giving all of us pointers and telling us, ‘Okay, there is an explosion happening behind you; there’s a sand dune in front of you; this bike is actually moving at this speed; so imagine all that and how your head would fall back.’ He gave us so much detail to work with.”
As Anna Ben looks to the future, her enthusiasm for diverse roles and genres shines through. “I want to try everything. I think I’m a little greedy like that as an actor.  I feel like I’ve only started. Action is something I want to do more of because it’s so much fun. I really enjoy doing stunts and everything. It’s such a great feeling, and I love working towards it—how you prep for it, hit the gym, get in shape, get into a routine, learn the choreography. It’s very intimidating and exhilarating at the same time. Anything that has a process where it’s brand new for me is exciting.”
Anna Ben’s journey in Kalki is a testament to her dedication, versatility, and passion for storytelling. As she continues to explore new horizons, audiences can look forward to more compelling performances from this talented actress.

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