In 2021, the release of Jathiratnalu shined a light on its debutante Faria Abdullah, who charmed everyone with her girl-next-door presence and casual warmth. While some found her remarkable for her height, others were tickled by her comic timing. Off screen, Faria continued to make her presence felt by posting dance videos, sharing insight into her relatively esoteric interests with her legion of followers. Cut to 2023, the actor finds himself in the whirlwind of a second debut. This time she is entering the Hindi industry with The Jengaburu Curse, which incidentally is also her OTT debut. The actor says that behind every choice she made professionally, she was guided by a sign – be it a rejected application at FTII for Jati Ratnalu or tattoo in case of The Jengaburu Curse. The actor spoke to Cinema Express about his impending release, the inevitable burden of social responsibility and much more
You’ll even get noticed and discovered by a whole new audience with The Jengaburu Curse. How is your space right now?
I feel just like when Jathiratnalu out, to be honest. Whether then or now, I believed that content would change everything. The only difference is that people didn’t know me back then. After that, people started calling me Chiti everywhere Jathiratnalu, I hope people will also see and accept me as Priya now. These characters are very impactful for me, I can only hope that the audience can also feel the impact that I did.
Can you talk more about Priya, your character in The Jengaburu Curse?
Priya is a working professional based in London, a financial analyst to be exact. She has to leave her life and return to Odisha to search for her missing father. What makes the heroine really interesting is that she is in big business and big money, but her family is the complete opposite. Her father is an activist and her mother is a member of the local Bondria tribe. Thanks to the life she has created for herself, she lives with a certain kind of detachment from the consequences of what her work might do to people in another part of the world. These contrasts make her life even more interesting.
This role is a far cry from the string of carefree characters you have portrayed so far in Telugu cinema. How did you prepare for this role and how did you prepare for the challenges it threw up?
You’re right, this is unlike anything I’ve done before. Priya is not a happy person, she ran away from her past only to be forced back into it due to some adverse circumstances. Whatever happens to Priya over the course of the series is traumatic, shocking or sudden. I got ready on the fly. Before going to the shoot, I would find music that could make me feel pain. Also, I found ways to cry and cry until I blacked out and my face swelled up. I didn’t even go home initially to stay connected to the role, but I ended up leaving after a few months after all that pain got too much (laughs).
The Jengaburu Curse is advertised as Cli-Fi or climate fiction. How has your understanding of climate change evolved, so to speak, since working on the series?
Although I think that questions of good and bad are really subjective, I believe that we all have a social responsibility. For actors, it’s much more because the nature of our work is so public. We have a responsibility to raise awareness of the various types of violence in the world, be it community, environmental or global. The Jengaburu Curse it was a wake up call for me. We have one planet and we must do what we can to protect it. I have always heard this from others, but now I feel it strongly. In the greater scheme of things, we are no different than the planet we live on, you know. We are not part of nature, we are nature.