Upon the release of ‘96’, while most appreciated the story and the two leads that brought alive an emotional story on screen, there was appreciation pouring in for how impeccable the casting was, particularly that of Subhashini’s character. Played by mother and daughter, Devadarshini admits that her daughter joining the cast was never part of the plan.
“I knew that the flashback parts would be shot later, especially when Aaditya Bhaskar (who plays young Ram) came and shot with us one day. While the makers had finalized everybody else’s cast, they were looking for an artist for my younger version. I was discussing this at home and my daughter kept showing her interest in playing me,” Devadarshini reveals.
Her husband, Chetan, also suggested that their daughter could give it a try and see another side to the industry. “As a mother, I was a little apprehensive of exposing my child to this. The makers wanted a fresh face. So she gave it a try, where she had to enact a scene. I had made it clear to Niyati in the beginning that the final call is their call and that I wouldn’t insist anymore. However, a few days later, she got the part and it’s been one of her best experiences so far!”
Agreeing to this, Niyati, a sprightly teenager in class 10, chimes in about what her experience was like. “I was the youngest in the team and they treated me well and made me feel very comfortable. We used to play games and over the course of time, got very close to each other,” she shares. The first few days had its initial share of quietness but upon completing the workshops and shooting for 18 days, the younger version of the lead characters got close and how! Now they attend each other’s birthday parties and constantly stay in touch.
To Devadarshini, who started her career as an anchor and then moved to soap operas, ‘96’ was one of the films that had her sobbing after the script narration. “This was the first time I listened to a script and teared up. You don’t need a Ram or a Jaanu in your life to find it relatable; you have a strong emotional connect with your school friends as compared to what it’s like when you are an adult. I was touched by the entire narration – that was my first connection with the film. It was very real; the shoot was also super fun; quite like a reunion.”
To Niyati, fun games of Truth or Dare aside, being a part of the film was a dream come true. “When I heard the story, I knew it was going to be a hit because of its impressive cast and story. My character, Subhashini, was the real me. Like her, I am a little crazy, a little open, boss around but also have fun. It wasn’t too tough playing her,” she shares.
But what made her think that she would be perfect for the role? “Two things – I’ve always wanted to be an actress. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been telling everybody that and I’ve also grown up watching my parents on screen. Second – my mother and I look alike and I felt it would be appropriate if I played her given our mannerisms are very similar.”
In the pipeline, Devadarshini has a score of films that are all different from the usual. She has ‘Ayogya’ that stars Vishal, she has a film that will be produced by CV Kumar which will be starring her husband and directed by a newcomer. She has ’90 ML’ that features Oviya in the lead, ‘Johnny’ that stars Prashanth Thyagarajan, a film that stars ‘Bigg Boss Tamil 1’ winner Aarav, and she will also be judging a stand-up comedy show ‘Comedy Killadis’. In addition to this, not many know that she is also a certified counsellor. “I have a degree in psychology and got a diploma in guidance and counselling in 2017. I’m a member of the Chennai Counsellors Foundation and they offered a three-month course from July to September 2018. I completed that and am under training.”
As for her daughter, while dreams of acting continue, school work will keep her occupied for now. As a mother, Devadarshini does not want to restrict her daughter but would rather have her decide and go on that journey when the time comes.
Watch the full interview with the mom-daughter combo here!!