There’s an interesting story we share with our interviewee here. Voxspace and Aditi Myakal go way back. In the sense that, we both know each other from almost a year. So the story goes like this. When we were just starting out, as a website, we wanted to run a feature on promising indie talents across the city. It was in this pursuit that we approached Aditi Myakal as she was marking her niche with her web work via Papa P Susheela. We texted her that we’d love to do a feature on her. But Aditi was incredibly humble when she said that she wasn’t famous enough to be covered. We understood that and dropped the attempt, but we always knew that there was something about her, that reeked undeniable talent and success. A year later, it came as a joyful surprise to see her earning all the acclaim with her latest movie Ami Thumi. Of course, this time around she agreed to give the interview. So much had changed in the last year or so, as we began discussing her journey within these changes. The excerpts of it follow.
So Aditi, we are curious as to what your story is before web series and movies happened? Where do you hail from and how did you land up in the movie industry?
I’m actually from Kamareddy. I was three years old when my dad got his transfer here. He was a Hindi professor. When we moved to Hyderabad, My Dad took me to a theatre workshop for children. I guess that’s what triggered my interest in acting and performing arts. That struck my fascination, and hence the interest started. I still remember these workshops having many numbers of children practising theatre. Apart from that the workshop also offered personality development courses as well. So, it worked out a great deal to give a direction to my passion. So yeah, my dad is the main reason for me taking up acting as a career option. I was in my 2nd standard when my Dad had me join Kuchipudi Dance classes. And whenever I gave stage performances, everyone would compare me with Savithri garu. Obviously, as a kid, all these compliments help you shape your career and personality. So that’s how I became interested in acting.
Eventually, I told my dad that I wanted to take up acting as a serious career. So, then he suggested that I join NSD (National School of Drama) or because I was also interested in fashion designing, NIFT (National Insititute Of Fashion Technology). So, he introduced me to NSD and NIFT, as till that point I didn’t know that there were professional courses which could tap into my interests. In my 10th standard, I joined the theatre, specifically Samahaara, for theatre workshops. Eventually, I got selected into multiple plays across various platforms, as I built my contacts on the way. In total, I did four different plays, as theatre needs a lot of time and dedication. You cannot just rehearse for two hours and perform. You got to give in at least your eight hours in a day to a particular play.
Then I did CineBhasmasura, a play on November 21st, 2015, which was studded with actors like Babu Mohan garu, Suma garu, Thanikella Bharani garu, Sivaji garu and more. I got to play a small key role in the play, and that’s how Bharani garu saw me out there. And in January 2016, I went for the shoot of Gentleman (movie) as a background artist. Fortunately, Bharani garu was also present in the shoot, and then he introduced me to Mohan Krishna Indraganti garu. Then the web series Posh Poris happened. I gave my auditions in June 2016, and we started the shooting in August for the series. Incidentally, Mohan sir’s daughter followed the web series, Posh Poris, and suggested my name to him. That how I landed up in Ami Thumi (movie).
Your career in web presentations practically started with Papa P Susheela on YouTube, which picked up quite a good fame. However, over time we saw less and less of it. What would you say is the reason for it? Looking back would you want to do something different with Susheela?
In May 2016, Sillymonks (media house) was producing and presenting a concept, and I was in a position to take it up as it came. At that point, I was making contacts, bringing in people, and web platform was something was very exciting. People like Tejaswi Mandivada or Pavani Gangireddy had made it big starting out from the YouTube web space. So that was also playing in my mind when I took Papa P Susheela up. First I was promised that the presentation would come out as a web series, with a weekly episode driving it. But then the production house, wanted me to have a separate channel altogether.
First I was excited, because is new, and Mahathalli (web series) was a huge success already. But never was I aspiring to become a YouTuber. The reason is that when you become a successful YouTuber, you derive an identity. And that Identity sticks. People would start labelling me as Papa P Susheela, and people would not accept me in any other role. So I think if I had continued with it, I don’t think I would’ve gotten any good roles. I thought I would get typecasted and also YouTube was not my thing, to be honest. I want to be Aditi Myakal at the end of the day and do different exciting characters in movies.
In the popular web series Posh Poris that came out last year, you played the role of a flamboyant Seshamma, which established you as an actor. Now, how did you land this role? And more importantly, what kind of preparations did you take up to bring the freshness and energy to the role?
As I told you CineBhasmasura happened, and there was one actor called Suresh sir, who got me in touch with Pushpa garu, the casting director, and she inturn suggested my name to TeluguOne productions. So then I went to the auditions, which were very different from the usual ones. It wasn’t your usual tell a dialogue or enact a scene from the movie stuff, rather it was more about knowing your personality. Like what you are and stuff. Your hobbies, body language etc. They selected me, and eventually we had script reading sessions.
However, I didn’t know if this was going to work out well or not. Prior to this, I did a small role in Mudapappu Avakai (by Niharika Konidela). So there was some type of apprehension. I didn’t realise that this would be the turning point of my life. Till then I was getting small bit roles in movies, background artist etc, but this was one of the leads. Now, this lead role had wings to explore, improvise and was without boundaries. So here was a role which was highly flexible, and it fit with my preferences which I had developed over years from the theatre background. I love to be melodramatic and vivacious. That’s who I am in real life. I’m super hyper outside as well. So the role really fit in.
Even the casting of my co-stars really helped me explore with the character. Sahaja and Harika (other two leads) were perfectly cast as well. Even the director’s flexibility adds to your portrayal. Aparna Ma’am, is a kind of person who doesn’t intrude too much. She gives you your space to try out new things. We had that rapport, where we both understood each other’s energy. And also the script for this web series was ready a month before (unlike in movies). So that helped with the preparation for the character. We all knew, even from the pre-production stage that here was something which would change the web series culture, and get good recognition going forward for each one of us. So, we put in our hundred percent into it.
We see that your role in the upcoming movie Ami Thumi resembles Seshamma in more than one ways. Do you think they are similar in the way they act? Or would say that they are highly different from each other. As an actor, what kind of measures have you taken to ensure that they are two very different roles?
My role in Ami Thumi and Posh Poris is completely different. Most people think when an actor plays a hyperactive bubbly girl, such characters are all the same. That’s not the case. When it comes to Seshamma, she was stubborn, talkative, and she had an air of devil may care attitude etc. As an actor, you could play around with her quirks as you wished. When it comes to Maya from Ami Thumi, she’s like a walking Irony, more like a contradiction, she wants to do something but can’t due to circumstances. Also, she can’t hurt anyone as well. When you watch the movie, you can see that Maya’s stepmother is pointing a gun at her and is super rude to her, but Maya doesn’t utter a word back. She wouldn’t hurt anyone in her life. Playing Maya was truly tricky. I wasn’t hyper (rather crying in the movie). I’m an innocent and yet a mature individual in the movie.
As an actor, when I got the role, and I read the script from Mohan Sir, I was really confused. Like Maya was a matured girl, but she would act totally stupidly at times. To catch that fine line was tricky and I approached Mohan Sir to better understand it. He explained the role to me with different adjectives and examples, and these notes, helped me etch the role. I made two columns which had opposing features. The first column described good things and the other opposites. That’s where I came up with the word ‘The Walking Irony’, and Mohan Sir approved of it.
Being an outsider in the industry, till now, what are the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in your career growth? Also, what are the few misconceptions people usually have about you before they actually know you? How do you deal with them?
As an outsider, the questions like opportunities, where will I get work from, is it ok to let go of chances, etc crop up. These questions always bog your mind. I remember, when I was doing Gentleman as a background artist behind Nivetha Thomas (The lead actress), people used to ask me why I was doing it, and said I deserved better roles. But then, if I hadn’t done Gentleman, I don’t think I would have shaped up my career this way. Also, If I hadn’t taken up Posh Poris, I don’t think I would be in Ami Thumi.
Misconceptions that people have when we meet mostly occur in the auditions. I’ve basically given dozens of auditions across all the media houses this year. Misconceptions are when I came from web series, Posh Poris, I got a lot of calls from different media houses to play the roles of Hero’s friend or Heroine’s friend or a sidekick etc. They’d claim that the role would be my next big break and stuff. But I was sure that I was much more talented than just stand behind the main lead. I’m not saying that it’s wrong, but, that wasn’t something that I was aspiring to be. Another problem is that I’m a Telugu Girl, and I fail to understand why people don’t want Telugu Girls acting in their movies. In fact, in the old movies, you see actors who are from here and doing films here. Savithri garu, Jayapradha garu and many more come to mind. Telugu actors are fabulous as well, and I don’t know why filmmakers don’t take them. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t take in North Indian actors. Of course when the role requires them, then it’s Ok. But a girl next door roles in Telugu movie, why do you need a North Indian girl playing that.
People always tell me that I don’t look like a Telugu girl but like a North Indian. And they told it was a plus point. And I was confused as to how I should take it as a compliment. I want to portray a Telugu Girl because I am one. And when they came to know that I’m a Telugu girl, they would change their tune and say I didn’t fit in the lead role.
At that point, I was desperate to find work. I had taken a year off, and I wanted to give my 200 percent in finding proper work. If nothing happened, I thought I’ll go back to college. So then, I accepted a movie, Arjun Reddy, in which I play Vijay’s (Devarakonda) friend’s role. I don’t regret doing it but, you know that there is this typecast thing going on in the industry. People always typecast you. If you are doing a character role, then they’ll cast you only in that. I hope that doesn’t happen here. So, those are the misconceptions which I’ve faced in my line of work.
I just give out a subtle smile when people judge. I am always confident about my work, and I just await people understanding it. I’m a proud Telugu girl, and I’m super happy that I’ve come to play one of the leads in a great movie, despite being a Telugu girl.
Within the industry, who are the people who inspire you the most. If you had to point out one quality in them that you find the most inspiring, what would that be? Also, are there certain aspects of your acting that you pick up from others?
Within the industry, Aparna Ma’am and Gautami (Director and Writer of Posh Poris respectively). We empower each other. You don’t really find such kind of mutual admiration within women usually. But we support and complement each other. And if we are feeling low on self-esteem or some other issues, we help each other out. And so they’ve been my inspiration within the industry. Another inspiration would be Mohan Sir. He is a perfect human being. Nowadays, we have these slang words like Squad Goals or Body Goals etc. In a similar way, I would say Mohan sir is a Human Being goal. Everybody should aspire to become like him because he’s such a kind and a humble person. Everything about him is perfect. In people I’ve never met, Vishwanath garu would be my inspiration, for the way he portrays women in his movies. It’s just so inspirational.
The second part answer would be when I see someone’s performance, I actually try to pick up the little nuances which seasoned actors deliver. For example, in Ami Thumi, there’s a scene where Bharani garu, gets a call from some person, so he has to go lift the call. So as an Actor, we know that the phone is on the seat or on the beach r something. But in reality, we don’t usually remember where the mobile is left. And so you search for the phone. Bharani garu brought that subtlety to the scene. So these are the things that I try to pick up from every movie I watch. And of course, I try to implement them in my acting as well.
With an interesting debut into the movies, where do you think your journey will take you in the next five or six years. Ideally, where do you want to see yourself in that period? Also for aspiring actors trying to make a mark on YouTube, what would your advice for success be?
In next five years, I hope I do at least 20 films. I hope I go to Bollywood. I hope I open my own clothing label and start an NGO for children. And I would want people to remember me as a splendid actress for the next four hundred years. As for the advice, I guess I’m not the right person to answer it. I’d say go with what you’re doing, go with the flow and when in Youtube, don’t be a routine content. Be unique and be yourself on Youtube. However, when in movies, always be the character you are defined to be. That’s about it.
So that was Aditi Myakal, bringing all the quirks and tales from her life. We are super sure that she’ll be on the biggest stars of our generation. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours. Follow her works/projects on Facebook here and Instagram as well.