Actor Divya Prabha
Actor Divya Prabha

Actor Divya Prabha on her award-winning film, All We Imagine as Light, and life after the Cannes Film Festival!

The super talented Malayalam actor was also nominated for the Best Actress category at Cannes Film Festival for this film by Payal Kapadia

The uproar in India around the 77th Cannes Film Festival, this time, was thankfully not limited to the ensembles — good, bad, or dramatic — worn by the celebs. For the first time in three decades, filmmaker Payal Kapadia gave our country the opportunity to celebrate achievements beyond trivia.

Her film, All We Imagine As Light, not only entered the main competition section at Cannes but also went on to win the Grand Prix, the second-highest award in the festival after Palm d’Or.

While receiving the award, Payal thanked the three stunning actors in her film, Kani Kusruti, Chhaya Kadam, and Divya Prabha, who were also present on stage.

No new name in Malayalam cinema, Divya is known for choosing films wisely, and her credibility has steadily risen over the years with movies like Take Off, Thamaasha, and Ariyippu. Now, All We Imagine As Light has made her a familiar name beyond the realms of Mollywood (the Malayalam film industry).

We caught up with the gorgeous Divya, who was also nominated for the best actress category at Cannes for the film, to learn more about the same, her career choices, and how she rocked the Cannes fest fashionably.

Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Q

It’s your second film (after Ariyippu, which gave her a nomination at the Locarno Film Festival) that has impressed the European audience. How does it feel?

A

It feels great when these two films get international appreciation. It is all the more special that I got nominated for the Best Actress award in both. It’s huge for me… I am happy to be a part of the world of cinema.

Actor Divya Prabha
Actor Divya Prabha
Q

How did you internalise the role of a 25-year-old in All We Imagine as Light?

A

My character, Anu, is spontaneous, vibrant, and energetic. She is 25-26, has a boyfriend, and is very immature. To be frank, I couldn’t relate to her at all. I’m 33 years old... so you can imagine, with my maturity level, it was beyond comprehension. Hence, it was challenging, and I couldn’t have done it without Payal’s incredible support. We did work shops, rehearsed almost every scene, and I tried hard to recall myself at that age and mental space, but there were not many similarities. So, the way she walks, talks, laughs and even kisses, it’s Anu and not Divya at all.

Actor Divya Prabha
Actor Divya Prabha
Q

What attracted you to the role?

A

I wanted to veer away from similar roles I played before. I also didn’t want age to become a barrier while picking a role. I have already played much older characters, which were very intense, and hence, I wanted to try my hand at younger charac ters. It’s difficult to get younger roles for women. So, I’m immensely grateful to Payal for believing in me.

Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Q

How was it working with Payal?

A

As an actor, it’s always important to discuss the character with the filmmaker. Payal always keeps that space quite open, not only for actors but also for every technician and other crew members in the film. She is very kind, generous, and democratic.

There was never any hesitation in suggesting or asking anything about the film. She always welcomed suggestions from everyone, even when she exactly knew what she wanted. Payal’s involvement in the workshop was commendable. She helped us immerse ourselves in the characters by giving us numerous homework assignments and exercises related to the roles.We became deeply involved, which helped us understand the characters more accurately. Anu is much younger than me, so it was particularly challenging for me. Now, I know how to approach and prepare for a character better than before.

Actor Divya Prabha
Actor Divya Prabha
Q

Some moments from the shoot that will stay with you forever?

A

I don’t know if I can call it crazy, but yes, we shot inside a cave. The next day, we discovered scary snakes where I was standing and I had kept my hands quite near them. We were terrified, but later we made fun of it.

Actor Divya Prabha
Actor Divya Prabha
Q

You have, by your admission, become an actor by chance. Tell us how the journey has been thus far...

A

Acting wasn’t my initial passion. My journey in films began with curiosity and a willingness to explore. I was not at all aware of cinema and the craft of acting then. After Take Off, I started to delve more into the craft of acting, which gradually developed into a passion as I discovered the depth and complexity of storytelling through acting. I found it incredibly fulfilling, and I wanted to do this for all my life. So I did an acting workshop with Adishakti Theater Group in Auroville, and I did character roles until 2022.

Ariyippu is the first film after that where I played the protagonist, and it had a great impact on me. It got selected for the Locarno Film Festival in the competition category, where I was nominated for best actress. After that, I played a very interesting role in Don Palathara’s Family, which premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival. And Payal’s film happened.

These 10 years of my career have been an academic era for me. Though this field is full of uncertainties, I didn’t give up. It wasn’t an easy wait for the right role without any kind of networking, but it’s my passion for work that led me to where I am today.

Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Q

Does winning global recognition on a platform like Cannes ensure great work in the future?

A

I see recognition as motivation and a responsibil ity for my future work. I hope they will lead to a bet ter career and help me receive more offers to play versatile characters. When I asked Payal how she discovered me, she said she watched Ariyippu and liked my performance. I believe every movie can lead to our next project, even if it takes time.

Q

What inspires you as an actor?

A

The opportunity to live the lives of different characters for a while. It also helps me grow into a better human being. From a very young age, I observed people and their mannerisms very keenly, and I always tended to mimic or imitate people. I always observe people from an actor’s perspective.

Actor Divya Prabha
Actor Divya Prabha
Q

What kinds of roles excite you?

A

Characters that challenge me as an actor and are different from my previous roles. Before saying yes to a film, I first read the script and understand my character. However, it often depends on other factors too. If the director or technical team have proven themselves, I trust them. Sometimes, the involvement of certain co-actors excites me. Ultimately, the filmmaker’s intention and vision for the film are more important than anything else.

Q

If you weren’t an actor, what would you have been?

A

Seriously, I have no idea (laughs).

Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Actor Divya Prabha with the team of All We Imagine as Light at Cannes
Q

Your upcoming projects?

A

I have a movie releasing soon by Jeo Baby, and another one with director Atal Krishnan. There’s also another exciting project on the horizon, details of which I can’t disclose right now.

Q

All of you put up some great looks at Cannes. What are your personal fashion choices like?

A

As per Cannes protocol, we had to give enough importance to fashion, so it forced me to wear something unique. I never wanted my attire to be over-the-top, but I also wanted to make sure I wouldn’t represent any particular culture or religion. I wanted it to be very neutral and global which goes along with my aesthetics. Also, the definition of fashion for me is comfort, and I wanted to be as free as a bird who could hop onto any platform and break into a dance freely. To walk, jump, run, and dance without any restrictions — as you guys would have already seen from my red carpet and photocall pictures — was at the top of my mind. Besides, I love following new fashion updates.

Actor Divya Prabha
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