Genelia D’Souza is finally shedding her bubbly-college girl image for cinematographer-turned-director Santosh Sivan’s trilingual project, Urumi. The actor, who plays the central role of a warring Muslim warrior princess, has been cast opposite South star Prithviraj Sukumaran in the film, which has been made in Malayalam, Tamil and English.
"Santosh wanted me to be mysterious," says the actor. "I play someone who resorts to violence because of all the sorrow she carries deep inside."
Crediting the director for helping her see herself, as an actor, in a new light, she says, "Santosh draws you into the story and pushes your limits."
To prepare for the action role, not only did Genelia learn how to ride a horse, but also trained in sword fighting and the traditional martial arts dance form from Kerala, called Kalaripayattu. “Thanks to all those years of playing football in college, I could build my stamina, flexibility and focus.”
Sharing screen with her in Urumi are Vidya Balan, Tabu and Prabhudeva among others. The latter most, who turned director with Wanted (2009), helped Genelia enact fight sequences. Though she didn’t get a chance to interact with Tabu during the making of the film, she met Vidya for a day.
The film recently travelled to the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum, where it received good reviews. Mani Ratnam, whom Santosh has previously worked with in many films, also praised the film and called it “Santosh’s Magic.” He added, “Urumi is huge. It is entertaining and the performances are very convincing.”
Set in the backdrop of 16th century India, Urumi is the story of a fierce warrior clans from Northern Kerala. Prithviraj will play the part of Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar, a historical figure whose mission was to kill Vasco da Gama.
Vidya plays the role of Makkom, a displaced deity. “Being a Malayali, my parents always wanted me to work in a film made in my mother-tongue. Urumi is a gift to my parents,” says Vidya.
Whereas Tabu, who has shot a song for the film adds, “I share a special bond with Santosh. I have been working with him since 1994.”