Malayalam actor Lena turns screenarist with ‘Olam’


Lena will also act in the film, she co-wrote with first-time director VS Abhilash

Among the things actor Lena did during lockdown was attend online filmmaking courses and workshops. It resulted in her writing the first draft of a script she intends to make into a film sometime later. However, another she co-wrote with debutant director/writer VS Abhilash — Olam — goes on the floors in August.

“It is a new thrill, I was hooked to the process,” she says of turning writer.

Rather than “brood and focus on the negativity [during the pandemic and lockdown], I did constructive things. This (writing) was an escape into fantasy. I am a workaholic. If not for all of this I would have driven myself up the wall,” she says of the things she did during the lockdown.

The Olam script is not her first with Abhilash; the first one they wrote together cannot be made due to pandemic and restrictions. He had initially approached her with an idea for that film. Seeing her interest in the script and listening to her inputs, Abhilash asked if she would be interested in developing the script with him. As it developed, they realized it could not be done now and instead worked on the thread for Olam. “We worked in sync…most of the writing was done over phone and video calls,” she says.

Olam is a cute little story, a horror-comedy, with five characters including Arjun Ashokan and me. It has a small cast and crew and doesn’t need too many locations either. It is a psychological drama and comedy… it depends on your perception. The comedy is situational and the approach to horror is psychological. If people cannot sleep and they get nightmares, then it would have worked,” Lena says laughing. Getting actor Harisree Ashokan, Arjun’s father, to act as his father was a casting coup for the team.

One of the few actors who have been busy despite the lockdown, Lena wrapped dubbing for Article 21 the day before the lockdown started. With time on her hands, she did a three-month schedule of panchakarma treatment,”Article 21 was grueling physically. I had booked myself for a three-week treatment which got extended.” She plays a ragpicker with two children in the film. Lena will also be seen in Aadujeevitham.

After restrictions were eased, she headed to the UK to film Footprints on Water, directed by Nathalia Syam. Her co-stars on the project are Adil Hussain and Nimisha Sajayan. She got stuck there when Britain went into a lockdown. “Every adversity is a blessing in disguise…I was there with an awesome group of filmmakers. I got to learn so much. Nathalia is younger than me, but I see her as a mentor.”

Having been an actor for 20-odd years, she has not confined herself to that role. A vlogger, she now adds life coach and writer to the list. Another project she believes strongly in, ‘Realize With Lena’, where she coaches people in the self-actualisation of their goals is also keeping Lena busy. She is currently designing a five-step course in the subject which she believes will help people move beyond self-realisation.

“This is the result of my work of 20 years, I have always been interested in the subject. As an influencer and someone with a degree in clinical psychology, I feel I should share tools that will help people. With lockdown, I had the time to reflect and work on it,” says Lena, who is also writing a book.

Lena considers herself fortunate for how things have panned out despite the pandemic and lockdown. It is the manifestation of her desire to be at the right place at the right time. “That is what I have always wanted.”

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