Tamil Interviews

Andrea Jeremiah On Her Fear Of Horror Films Despite Doing Aval & Why She Is On A Constant War With Herself

Actress Andrea Jeremiah is known for her love for singing. And, fear of all things horror. Despite that, she’s been part of two films in the genre, including Milind Rau’s Aval, which released on November 3. The film, also made in Telugu (Gruham, which releases on November 10) and Hindi (The House Next Door), sees Andrea play the lead, along with Siddharth, a known horror film buff.


Working in a horror film is very different from seeing one, insists Andrea. But, she has had her share of scare when she inadvertently walked into a room where a fellow actor was getting her makeup done. The rest of the crew heard a high-pitched scream. “It took me a whole day to come to terms with it. I had to see her in regular clothes and without makeup to know it was her, and not who I saw inside.”

Despite that, Andrea tried to watch the trailer of Aval. “Without the background score, I actually managed to watch it, and was all chuffed. Till I attempted to see the trailer with the effects! It was impossible.”

The film is Andrea’s third in the second half of 2017, after Taramani and Thupparivaalan, and she’s happy it showcases her in a new avatar. “It was deeply satisfying making the movie because I was with people who were on the same page. This is the second time in my career that it has happened, after Kamal Sir’s sets. It’s a great feeling. Most of the film was shot in one single schedule, on location. It helped get into the mood of the film,” says Andrea.

In the much-delayed Taramani, director Ram’s ode to flawed relationships in a city, Andrea plays Althea Johnson, a single mother, who works in the IT industry. She was also part of Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan, and is working in Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai.

Despite making her debut as mother of a child in Pachaikili Muthucharam and following it up with the fantasy flick Aayirathil Oruvan, where she plays archaeologist Lavanya, a descendant of the Chola dynasty, Andrea has always been slotted. Her unusual face and ability to rock both conventional and contemporary roles have really not been used by filmmakers. Has she ever felt limited by what people perceive her to be? “All the time,” she sighs. “I don’t know if it is the industry I’m in, or the people… As an actor, I would like to experience and showcase different things. That’s the whole point of being an actor. It’s pointless to do the same things,” she says.

Despite that, she has had to take some hard calls. “I recently turned down a lovely role, because it resembled something I’d done recently. I’m on a constant war with myself. Do I please myself or do I please some age-old ideas perpetuated by someone?”

The slotting comes very easily. Many said she played Althea well because “she’s just like Andrea”. “But, in what way? I don’t work in an IT company, I don’t live her life!” says Andrea. The film led to some heartwarming moments, though. “Once, after a particularly frustrating day when I was being told what kind of roles I must take up, I went out for dinner with a friend. A girl walked up, asked for a few minutes of my time, and spoke for 20. She said Althea’s story was almost similar to hers — interestingly, she wore a kurta and does not live in Chennai. She said the movie gave her the courage to break the clutter in her life. And then, introduced me to her ‘beardwallah’, who had stood by her!”

Andrea continues: “What I loved about the movie was not just the script — Ram Sir based it on stories he’s heard, people he’s met — but that he wrote it with me in mind. He told me that if I did not do it, he won’t make the film. How many heroines get told that? Though it was mentally draining to work in, what kept my spirits up was that I was the only choice. In Tamil (Tamizh, as Andrea calls it), roles for the female lead are written in such a way that anyone can replace anyone. If this actress does not work, let’s try her. They are so easily replaceable, but in a few cases.”

Aval is special for a similar reason. “Not just me. It’s not just the title. The dots of the story are connected through a series of women,” she says.

Andrea feels things will improve for ‘thinking actors’ once directors have a role to play in casting. “I’ve been lucky that way to work with Ram, Vetrimaaran and other directors who get to make casting calls. They are fabulous to work with, and it is a privilege to be a part of their creations.”


There was a time when Andrea focused on singing, and working in Tamil films was not in her horizon at all. Today, she still manages to sneak time out for singing, but “not as much as I would like to”. “Only an actor knows how difficult it is to take time off, but I do that, because I love singing,” says Andrea, who has hit numbers such as ‘Kannum Kannum Nokia’, ‘Idhu Varai’, ‘Um Mela Aasathaan’ and ‘Google Google’ to her credit.

Usually, Andrea does at least one Malayalam film a year, but this year, she had to turn down even that because it clashed with her schedule. And so, she waits for Vada Chennai, now that Aval has released.

What’s her current state of mind like? “Clueless,” she says, before saying, “Actually no. Make that Something’s Gotta Give!” We’ll add terrified to that list — she’s just walked into a theatre to watch Aval.