Aadujeevitham: Amala Paul’s Journey as Sainu

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Amala Paul with Prithviraj Sukumaran in a still from the film

Amala Paul with Prithviraj Sukumaran in a still from the film
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

When Amala Paul came on board Aadujeevitham, she says, she was expecting a starter but what she got in return was a huge spread, dessert included. “Being part of a project with AR Rahman, Resul Pookutty, A Sreekar Prasad, Blessy…” Amala cannot keep the excitement out of her voice as she talks about Aadujeevitham. The film which is based on the eponymous Malayalam novel by Benyamin and has Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead, releases on March 28.

The film has been a long time coming; the filming started in 2018 but the pandemic delayed the project further. But she sees the delay as working in its favour, growing into what it has become — one of Malayalam cinema’s most anticipated films. 

Aadujeevitham started as a ‘normal’ film, but it has now become this huge film. Over the years [since filming to release] cinema too has evolved and changed. This film’s scope and space have grown so much. Blessyettan has used the time to perfect the film and update it!” She is ‘super grateful’ about having been able to be a part of this project.

Amala’s journey to becoming Sainu coincided with her spiritual journey; the film came to her when she was looking inward, travelling to the Himalayas, exploring yoga and meditation. She first read the novel, sent to her by the film’s team, on a flight from Delhi to Kochi. Not only did the book overwhelm her but was also a validation of her spiritual journey. Najeeb’s struggles in, and with, the desert resonated with her and she knew she wanted to be a part of the film. “By the time Blessyettan called asking me to do Sainu’s character, narrated the story and told me what he wanted…I wanted to be in it.”

Sainu’s character in the film has more space, unlike in the novel which tells the story of a Malayali migrant to West Asia, Najeeb Muhammad, who is trapped in a desert in the middle on nowhere as a goatherd. 

A song by ARR

Of the entire experience of being part of the film, one that is especially memorable was having a song composed by AR Rahman picturised on her. It is her first time in a song by ARR. “The picturisation of the song — in water — is so beautiful. I am a water baby, I love water…the music is so blissful. It was one of the best things to happen!” Amala says.   

Preparing to be Sainu was not very difficult although it was, in 2018-19, one of her most ‘feminine’ roles. “At that point, this was my first Muslim character. There was a certain newness to it. Sainu’s body language and mannerisms are so different from me…I enjoyed the experience.” It was also her first experience with sync sound, which was then nascent in Malayalam films.

Amala Paul

Amala Paul
| Photo Credit:
SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Blessy’s inputs made getting into the character easy. “He facilitates a deep understanding of the story and the character, their background and backstory. The kind of family Sainu belongs to and the one she is wed into. She is strong and ambitious; she encourages Najeeb to go abroad. They live in a one room house, she wants a larger space and wants them to have a good life. Once Najeeb leaves, she takes over the responsibilities and looks after his mother,” says Amala. 

Amala makes a special mention of Blessy’s treatment of love in his films. “The love stories are unique, not confined by age or other factors. Here too, it is love that keeps Najeeb going, despite the distance and the circumstances. It is love that brings him back. They are soulmates, who are lucky to have each other and that is what keeps them going.”  

Due to giving birth to her baby in a couple of months, Amala calls it a coincidence that Sainu is pregnant and has a baby in the film and now, when the film is up for release, she is pregnant. “When I was shooting, I had to pad up my belly to look pregnant. And now, during the film’s promotions I am actually pregnant.”

Following Aadujeevitham, Amala has acted in other Malayalam film such as Cadaver, Teacher, and Christopher.  

She gets philosophical about Aadujeevitham, especially about Najeeb Muhammad. “Najeeb would not have seen the big picture when he was going through what he was. He wouldn’t have known how his life would become a big film and touch so many other lives. The world should hear his story.”   



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