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Anupama Parameswaran on the kind of discussion Malayalam short film ‘Freedom@Midnight’ is generating

Released on YouTube, the 29-minute-film focusses on Chandra, a career woman, devoted wife and mother, who finds her husband cheating on her with a series of virtual affairs with women he has met only in cyberworld

With a role of substance in short film Freedom@Midnight, actor Anupama Parameswaran has proved she is more than the bubbly girl next door.

Her character and the film have become a subject of debate and discussion among cinephiles. Released on YouTube, the 29-minute-film focusses on Chandra, a career woman, devoted wife and mother, who finds her husband cheating on her with a series of virtual affairs with women he has met only in cyberworld.

Along the lines of The Great Indian Kitchen, Freedom@Midnight also focusses on the gender-based polemics in a modern-day marriage and how a couple views that relationship. But the aspects discussed in the short film are radically different from that of the feature film.

“Director and writer RJ Shaan, a friend, gave me the script to read. I liked the way it tackled the subject with empathy even while asking uncomfortable questions about marriage and trust. This short film is close to my heart for many reasons,” says Anupama.

Initially, she was not confident if she could do justice to the intense character as she had never done such a role. “Chandra asks questions that are considered taboo in society. I was not sure if I could enact the 28-year-old mother of a six-year-old and what she was going through. There was a lot of confusion, discussions and questions,” recalls Anupama.

Her parents too were in two minds. Finally, it was her brother who told her to go ahead and do it as it was a character very different from what she had done so far.

Anupama Parameswaran in the short film, Freedom@Midnight  
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Shot in the outskirts of Kochi within five days in early November 2020, the film, with its open ending, has had its share of bouquets and brickbats. While many felt Chandra should have been stronger, an equal number has been rooting for the way she was able to portray the many dilemmas faced by any ordinary woman and mother. “Our film is called short fiction for that reason. We were not trying to convey a message or how women should react when faced with such a situation. It is a piece of fiction about a woman thinking about the options open to her. It is for the viewer to draw their conclusions. Does she reconcile with her husband or does she walk out on him? There are no easy answers,” believes Anupama.

She asserts that the focus is on what trust means in a marriage and how that is what keeps a marriage going even against many odds. Although the couple had chosen each other, it was clear that they had somehow lost their intimacy and romance in the mundane tasks of everyday life, adds the actor. “Marriage is a dialogue. But in any meaningful relationship, we should be honest, whether it is about having an affair or a fling,” she believes.

Anupama elaborates that the director was clear that the short film was a reflection of society and what many women were experiencing. “When Shaan narrated the story, I could see her. I have had conversations with men and women like Das (played by Hakkim Shajahan) and Chandra and it was there in my mind,” says the actor.

Anupama feels even strong women who have made the choices in their life might have had to put up with difficult situations because of their love and respect for certain people.

The film has an open ending because it was conceptualised like that. “Both Shaan and I asked each other what Chandra would have done. And we had no answers if Chandra would walk out of her marriage or go back to her husband,” says Anupama.

Chandra is a far cry from the lively, youthful characters she has done, says the Premam heroine with the frizzy mop who had become a trendsetter with that one film. Since then, Anupama has gone on to become a busy actor in Telugu cinema with films such as Vunnadhi Okate Zindagi, Sathamanam Bhavati, Krishnarjuna Yuddham and so on. Right from her first film in Telugu, Srinivas’s A..Aa, Anupama has been dubbing for herself.

During lockdown, she was also seen in the OTT release Maniyarayile Ashokan. At present, Anupama is busy completing her films in Telugu such as Palnati Surya Pratap’s 18 Pages with Nikhil Siddhartha, Dil Raju’s Rowdy Boys with Anish Reddy and the remake of the Malayalam hit Helen. She is also completing Thalli Pogathey, the Tamil remake of Telugu hit Ninnu Kori.

“All these were signed before the lockdown. I was in the midst of resuming shooting in November when Freedom @ Midnight came my way. I am happy that a short film has evoked so many discussions and that films are openly talking about relevant subjects in society,” she says.

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