Malayalam actor Poornima Indrajith talks about landing the role in the Netflix series Kaala Paani


Poornima Indrajith as Swasti Shaw in Kaala Paani

Poornima Indrajith as Swasti Shaw in Kaala Paani
| Photo Credit: Netflix

Poornima Indrajith is very happy, almost euphoric at the response to Kaala Paani. In the Netflix series , she essays the role of Swasti Shaw, one of the protagonists in the survival drama which pivots a mysterious, lethal water-borne disease in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The actor confesses to being a tad apprehensive about ‘disturbing the scene’ as she was a new person to the rest of the cast and since this was her ‘first’ OTT attempt. “I felt like a newcomer, a fresher who was learning everything anew. That was challenging!” she says. 

The call to audition for the role came out of the blue from the Mumbai-based casting agency. Her role as Dr Smrithi Bhaskar in the 2018 film Virus was their point of reference. “The Swasti Shaw character is not region specific, she could be from anywhere. I flew to Mumbai for an audition where they looked for how I spoke the language (Hindi), and how close I was to the sketch of the character. It all happened so fast, before I realised what was happening I was being ‘flown out’ to the location.” The series was shot in 2022.  

The new medium demanded that Poornima unlearn things as she explored and negotiated her way through the OTT space. 

Poornima Indrajith

Poornima Indrajith

Hindi diction was a concern for her. “I speak in Hindi almost on a daily basis with my staff at my design studio Pranaah. Many of them are from North India, but I realised that I had to work on my diction,” she says. Having completed two OTT series and currently working on a third one, require her to polish her Hindi skills, which is not a walk in the park. Since the recording is sync sound, she had to be on top of her game. 

“The beauty of the medium [OTT] is that [usually] there are no ‘supporting’ characters, each has their own arc of and has layers that can be explored by the actor and the audience.” She elaborates how Swasti’s character arc develops over the course of the series. 

Besides the series, she can’t stop gushing about the beauty of the Andaman islands, where a part of the series was shot. “What a beautiful piece of heaven and lovely people!”    

This year has been good for the actor, she opened the year with a stunning portrayal in the period drama, Thuramukham. Kaala Paani is her second outing of the year. Poornima started her career as an anchor on Asianet, in 1997-98. She acted in a handful of films before her marriage, and focussed on a career in television post-marriage. She launched her designer garment label Pranaah. She returned to films in 2019, with Virus.    

The actor, who turns 45 this month, says, “Work stopped once I got married, people presumed I wouldn’t work in films despite me never having said it.” The few offers that came her way were not exciting enough to take up. Rationalising how things have panned out, she says she never understood, when she was younger, how much she liked acting. The realisation came once she grew older, she began enjoying it. “Perhaps because I was young and didn’t understand. But I knew I would return to acting.”  

Poornima is not surprised by the roles she has been getting. “The narrative has changed, there is so much OTT content that is built around women who are not young. All women are seen, and different topics being ‘spoken’ about. There is room for actors [women] irrespective of how old or young they are.” 

Kaala Paani has been renewed for a Season 2

Kaala Paani is streaming on Netflix



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