Christmas with Andrea: The actress talks about fashion, fitness, films, singing and what the festival means to her
Bringing cheer to the yuletide is our exclusive chat with singer-actress Andrea Jeremiah, as she tells us about her favourite festive goodies, her music, new projects and lots more
Currently one of the most talked about singers in the South thanks to her rendition of the Tamil version (Oo Solriya Mama) of the hit song Oo Antava from Pushpa, Andrea Jeremiah is reeling in the praises and stretching herself thin on back-to-back shoots. The actress, however, is all set to bring in Christmas tomorrow with family and is looking forward to five releases in the New Year, including the much-awaited Pisasu II from Mysskin. We catch up with the popular actress with 30+ hits to her credit, to find out more about what Christmas means to her, why she writes poetry, what keeps her fit and why songs she believes she’s sung badly, often become her biggest hits!
So, what are you currently working on?
I’m completing a couple of films. I am done with Pisasu II finally, done with the dubbing and everything else. I’m really happy and grateful with the way it’s turned out and it’s definitely going to be an important film in my career. Mysskin (the director of Pisasu II) is a very unique filmmaker to work with and his language with the camera is very, very special. I like challenges and Pisasu II was definitely a challenge! I think I am at a stage in my career where the films that I do or the films that are offered to me are a part of my personal evolution and that’s a very magical journey for me as an actress because it’s no longer just about call sheets and paychecks and having this many releases in a year — it’s about how the film is contributing to my growth as a person.
How did Oo Solriya, your latest hit from the OST of Pushpa, happen?
Funny story, I was shooting and DSP (Devi Sri Prasad), who is a dear friend, calls me and he’s like, “Can you come record this song, now?” And I’m the kind of person who’s really lazy. I don’t like to mix my shoots and recordings. I like to do everything at my own pace. But he said, “No, it has to be done today. You have to come please, please.” So, I was like, fine, and it was really pouring that day. I went in this deluge of water to his studio and then he played me the Telugu version of the song. And I was like, “I can’t sing that!” and he just refused to take no for an answer. He forced me to try. I mean, I think the Telugu singer has sung the song fantastically well but for me, that kind of folk expression; it just doesn’t come naturally to me. So I was like: I’m going to flat line the song and just sing it in a very plain and in a very husky tone; and just keep it mostly expressionless. And he loved it. I hated it. But then, most of my hits end up being songs that I feel I don’t sound good on. (laughs)
When did your love for singing begin? Do you write your own songs?
I’ve been singing ever since I can remember, since I was a kid! It’s second nature to me. Being raised in a Roman Catholic family, I was singing in the church choir and I went to a convent school, so I sung at school too. I would have not sung for a really long time and then suddenly we’ll have a show or a performance and I’m ready to get on stage immediately. My passion for singing also naturally piqued an interest in songwriting. The other day someone was talking about journaling and they asked me if I kept a journal, and I very naturally replied, “No, I write songs.” It’s a great way of self expression. And I’m happy and blessed that all the things I do are kind of interwoven — acting, singing or writing — they are all beautiful expressions of the same kind of energy, which is great!
Switching to fashion, how do you define your personal style?
Honestly, I don’t follow trends. You know, I go with what’s classic, I go with what looks good on me and flatters my body type. I think that’s very important. And for me, less is always more. I like clean, simple cuts, and not so many frills. And, you know, except when I’m on stage, then I go all out and bling it, because you know, you have to do that. I like being a diva on stage. But on a day to day basis, comfort, is what’s most important. But in real life, I really don’t bother dressing up much.
And you’ve always managed to stay fit?
I think when I was younger; I used to do a lot of these fad diets, which, you know, a lot of young girls fall prey to, and they don’t really help you in any way. Around 10 years ago, someone introduced me to the concept of training; going to the gym, not just to run on the treadmill, but to work out with weights. And that has made all the difference in my life. Because when you work out with weights, you have to eat, you can’t not eat! The number one rule is you have to eat well, if you want to train well. But having said that, I’m also very good at not working out when my body tells me to stop. I think that’s very important. People often do too much and they end up injuring themselves.
The lockdown had an effect on everyone, what about you?
I had a major panic attack when the lockdown was announced because I’m not someone who likes to sit still for long. I’m used to being out of my house pretty much for half the month or more. So for someone like me, to have to just sit in the house and not go anywhere — it was very suffocating. But then, I taught myself how to cook. I set up a little terrace garden and started growing veggies. And then I set up my balcony and I got a lot more plants. And all these little things really kept me going. I never used to be a homebody before the lockdown. Now I am. It takes a lot for me to want to step out. Earlier, home was just a place I came back to and now I really look forward to coming back home because and I have the lockdown to thank for that.
And since it’s Christmas, what does the season mean to you?
Christmas to me means a big fat family lunch. Because we live in Chennai, there’s no snow, you know, there’s a lot of ‘Christmassy’ things that are missing in Chennai. But in Chennai, specifically, when I think of Christmas, I also think of katcheri season, I think of katcheri saapaadu. And of course, I do all the Christmassy things like putting up my Christmas tree and now that I have a puppy, I get him his little Santa hat. So, it’s really my time to take off from work and just chill, be with the people I care about. It could be my family in Chennai, it could be my cousins in Australia, it could be my sister in Paris, it could be anywhere in the world as long as I am around my people — that’s what is important for me.
Your favourite Christmas memory?
When I was a kid, my family — from all over the world — and I would go to Arakkonam to my grandma’s house. And there would be unimaginable goodies being churned out there. And she lived in a railway colony, so, there used to be this week of Christmas festivities that would happen for us kids. The week leading up to Christmas had something fun every single day. And this is the best feeling to be honest. To just be around your family doing fun things and eating great food!
And finally, what next?
Apart from Pisasu II I’m working on a film, which is being produced by director Vetrimaaran. And then a couple of other films like Kaa, Maaligai, No Entry and Vattam which were slated for release pre lockdown but were also stuck and will probably make their way out next year.
TAKE 10 WITH ANDREA:
Dress up or dress down: Dress down.
Guilty pleasure: Chocolate.
Last thing you do before you fall asleep: Apply foot cream, take my supplements and listen to a guided meditation.
First thing you do when you wake up: Check my phone.
What do you wear at home: Pyjamas.
Favourite Christmas treat: My aunt’s turkey roast with stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Favourite Christmas film: Home Alone (all parts).
Favourite carol: O Holy Night.
One role you wished you could play: Wonder Woman.
One actor you’d love to work with: Ryan Gosling and Ranbir Kapoor.
COVER PIC CREDITS: Photography: Sunder Ramu | Make-up: Prakriti Anand | Hair: Kiara Motwani | Styling: Amritha Ram | Skirt: Warp&Weft by Sagarika Rai | Jacket: Kasturi Kundhal | Jewellery: Sangeetha Boochra | PR Agency: Fashion Signature Official | Location: Synck Café, Besant Nagar