“I’m a very jungle kind-of person and have always been passionate about wildlife. During the lockdown, I started thinking about how I can give back to the environment, to nature, and to all living beings that are dependent on them. That’s where the thought originated and I’m trying to build on it,” she begins, and goes on to explain what she is working on.
“I’ve always wondered what I can do as an individual to conserve wildlife and make a difference. At a time when there is so much poaching happening and forests are being destroyed, we need to be aware of how our actions impact other species. I’m not a big supporter of zoos, and I don’t like the idea of animals being caged or put out on show, where the chances of them being ill-treated are high. I learnt that there are these wildlife shelters that rescue animals.”
“For instance, if there is a wounded tiger that can’t hunt and is most likely to starve to death, they rescue him and tend to him till he is back in good health. You can actually adopt such animals and take care of them. Obviously, you can’t bring a tiger home; though I wish I could. But I can pay for their needs and contribute to their welfare. I’m in talks with a couple of such shelters in the south, and will put my plan in action soon. In fact, I am also looking at setting up something myself so I can be even more actively involved in wildlife conservation,” says Malavika, who’s currently enjoying the company of tigers in Ranthambore National Park.
“It has been a while since I went to the forest. I am not someone who can go to a beach resort and chill. I’ll get bored out of my mind. I like adventure, I like exploring places, and doing things when I am vacationing. The whole lockdown, I sat at home and just chilled. So, I decided to explore before I start shooting again,” she laughs.
Malavika, who was at her hometown in Kerala before this, will join the sets of her Hindi film with Gully Boy actor Siddhant Chaturvedi, Yudhra. “The whole of March went away in preparation for the film. I had a lot of reading sessions and action training. I have some cool action sequences in the film, and had to learn a few different kinds of martial arts for it,” she says, adding, “I really like the makers of this film — they are the ones who made movies like Dil Chahta Hai, Don and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which I have grown up watching. I’ve always wanted to work with them and I’m glad this film happened. The director (Ravi Udyawar) made Mom with Sridevi before. It’s a great team, and a young, fresh story. The last two-three movies that I did were serious ones. Now, I want to do a love story, or something light-hearted.”
The actress will be shooting for her Hindi film in April and May, and join the sets of her film with Dhanush — referred to as #D43 — again post that. “I had a lot of fun shooting in Hyderabad for one whole month with the team. Dhanush is in Los Angeles now for his Hollywood film, and once he is back, we will resume work. I think the makers want to shoot with the rest of the cast until he returns so that only his portion is left for later,” she informs.
So, what kind of film is #D43? “It’s a lot of different genres. But if I have to put it inside a bracket, I’d call it an investigative thriller,” she says, adding that working with Dhanush was an amazing experience. “You can learn a lot from him by just observing him. He involves everyone in the scene. It’s not like he’ll come, do his dialogues and go. So, it becomes such an amazing learning process,” she quips.
To announce the wrap of the first schedule, Malavika had shared a picture of her and Dhanush from the set, and revealed how they shared a mutual love for Maggi, while Dhanush responded, saying he had a great time shooting and talking about books. “In between shoots, we’d have a lot of conversations and that’s when we discovered our mutual love for Maggi. But we really can’t have it because we are on a healthy diet,” she says with a laugh, adding, “However, we, as a team, got a few dinners together so we could get to know each other. It’s a young team, and Karthick (director Karthick Naren) is fun to work with. But we all really couldn’t hang out much because we’d shoot from 6pm to 3am, and nobody really wanted to hang out first thing in the morning!”
This was the first film that Malavika shot post the pandemic.
“It felt like starting over! The pandemic had caused a year’s gap in everyone’s life. On the first day of shoot, I felt my facial muscles were strained. If you do something every day, the body adapts to it. Like, if you play badminton for two years, your body can do it with ease. But when you start again after a gap, there’s a bit of a struggle to adapt. It was the same thing with acting. On the first day, I felt like I was shooting for my first movie!” she says, “We strictly followed protocols. The teams were smaller and no unnecessary people were allowed on the set. I feel the lesser, the better, in times like this.”