Nostalgia with Anuradha Menon: “At 22, my mom encouraged me to pursue acting as I didn’t think it was a rational choice!”

Popularly known as Lola Kutty, the actor reminsces about going to acting school, travelling with her mother and her sense of style
Anuradha Menon at 22 (inset) and at 40 (above)
Anuradha Menon at 22 (inset) and at 40 (above)
Published on Nov 06, 2021 11:35 PM IST
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ByRewati Rau

Where were you career-wise?

I was doing my masters in drama from East 15 Acting School, London.

Anuradha during her first and only portfolio shoot in 2004
Anuradha during her first and only portfolio shoot in 2004

What was your money situation like?

I’d got a part scholarship and my parents put in the rest of the money for college.

Being a teetotaller with a cup of juice, with her friend Laura at a house party
Being a teetotaller with a cup of juice, with her friend Laura at a house party

What was your romantic life like?

Non-existent. This boy in drama school told me ‘you’re always so energetic, maybe if you have some sex, you’ll calm down’!

With her friend Shirine (right), lounging on the grass on campus
With her friend Shirine (right), lounging on the grass on campus

Your focus in life was?

What it is now—you can only be the best that you can be, and in life there’s always someone prettier, richer, slimmer and more talented than you, and that’s fine. Do justice to your talent and work hard.

With family friend Susie Partridge, and her mother Minnie in Paddington on a trip
With family friend Susie Partridge, and her mother Minnie in Paddington on a trip

Was your family supportive?

Yes. My parents broke the doctor/engineer/lawyer pressure most South Indian families have, as they themselves went into advertising. When I showed interest in acting, my mom encouraged me as I didn’t think it was a rational choice. My extended family said, “She’s so good at science and can dissect a frog, why isn’t she pursuing something more straight? This is a huge risk.”

With friend Laura and her mother Minnie at East 15 Acting School in 2003; (inset) With Asif Ali Beg at Regents Park in 2003
With friend Laura and her mother Minnie at East 15 Acting School in 2003; (inset) With Asif Ali Beg at Regents Park in 2003

Your sense of fashion back then?

None. I never got my eyebrows done. I felt once I start, I won’t be able to continue, since it was expensive there. I didn’t even cut my hair for a year and a half. I’ve never been a jeans/pants person but was forced to wear them every day due to the weather in England and I thought, “never again”. I was always overdressed.

With her mom Minnie (left) at Lord’s Cricket Ground in 2003
With her mom Minnie (left) at Lord’s Cricket Ground in 2003

Your biggest dream back then?

To be part of a play that travelled the world, to be part of a western production or Broadway, and win a Tony Award.

With co-actors Shirine and Shireen, when Anu played a Chilean woman at their year-end production
With co-actors Shirine and Shireen, when Anu played a Chilean woman at their year-end production

A memorable incident?

Going for the Wimbledon for the first time. I begged my professor to let me leave early, but reached almost at the end and could only watch about 15 minutes of a match. Then, I just walked around, ate strawberries and cream, and clicked a picture with a guard who felt sorry for me.

Your most prized possession then?

A silver ring I bought from Ooty.

Anuradha was on the Brunch cover as Lola Kutty in 2017, talking about how it’s cool for comedians to poke fun at their own cultures
Anuradha was on the Brunch cover as Lola Kutty in 2017, talking about how it’s cool for comedians to poke fun at their own cultures

A funny incident from back then?

I was returning from the Nottinghill Carnival on a train and a guy next to me chatted with me. In five minutes, he said he loved me and wanted to marry me, and I was like that’s really quick even by Indian marriage standards. Of course, I didn’t marry him!

From HT Brunch, November 7, 2021

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021