Model-turned-actor, Vidya Pradeep, 26, is a multi-hyphenate. When not playing Anandhi in the popular television soap Nayaki on Sun TV, she is pursuing her doctorate in stem cell biology at a private eye hospital in Nungambakkam. “I never watched movies as a child,” says Vidya, who has a master’s degree in biotechnology. “We had no cable connection until I finished school because my parents prioritised my studies. They are more proud of me as a scientist than as an actor,” she laughs. Recently seen playing a cop in Arun Vijay’s Thadam, she tells us more:
How can the small screen boost your career?
[The exposure] is immense. The identity that Nayaki gives me is much more than in films. At the hospital, the attendants call me Anandhi (her character’s name) and not Vidya. At the supermarket, people walk up and ask what will happen next (on the soap) with Thiru (the male lead, played by VJ Dhilip Rayan). It’s as if they think we are a [real] family.
How did you prepare for the cop’s role in Thadam, your first?
I was clueless. I asked director Magizh (Thirumeni) if watching cop films would help. He told me to observe the body language and mannerisms of the policewomen I saw on the streets.
You have played a mother twice and a gangster – not the usual roles someone your age would choose.
I only see myself as an artiste. I want to play character roles because they are challenging and I only need to shoot for a few days. If I’m the lead, I will have to allocate a big chunk of dates and that’s difficult because my (hospital) work is also a big responsibility.
I’m listening to scripts but I want to choose wisely. For now, I have signed on to play a role in Chimbu Devan’s next, which will be produced by Venkat Prabhu.
You’re pursuing a PhD in stem cell research!
Yes. My PhD is almost complete. My work focusses on corneal tissues. I’ve already had a paper published in an international journal and another one is under review.
Have your parents made peace with your acting career?
They adopt a neutral stance. They will neither encourage nor discourage my career. My parents never wanted me to do films. But they can now see how confident and independent I am about continuing in this line of work.
You work in films without a manager… is it difficult?
I learnt people management the tough way. Because my parents don’t know much about my film career, I have to decide who I should… believe in. There have been mistakes and I shouldn’t have done a few films.