on the actor's trail

‘I don’t put myself out there enough’: What Parvathy learnt from ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’

‘I’ve never been in a hurry to reach anywhere,’ the Southern star says in an interview.

Southern movie star Parvathy has emerged as the clear winner of Tanuja Chandra’s Qarib Qarib Singlle, which was released on Friday. In her Bollywood debut, in which she is paired with the formidable Irrfan, Parvathy plays Jaya, a 35-year-old widow who gets entangled with Irrfan’s free-spirited Yogi. The depth and nuance that Parvathy has brought to her character has won her unequivocal praise.

Choosing strong roles and intelligent and diverse characters have been hallmarks of Parvathy’s career. She has played Sameera, a nurse dealing with a personal crisis in ISIS-ravaged Iraq in the 2017 Malayalam hit Take Off, Maari, a woman struggling with her childhood love for a cousin in the Tamil movie Poo (2008), and RJ Sarah, a paraplegic with an indomitable spirit in Bangalore Days (2014). Parvathy has gone from one character-driven performance to another with ease and versatility. She spoke to Scroll.in about her first Hindi film and the similarities between Jaya and her.

You have been known to work on one film at a time, and only if it has something different to offer. What made you accept ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’?
Jaya has a good job, she’s made something of her life; she takes care of her brother and her family. She has a happy life, a good life. But love hasn’t happened for her. She decides to put herself out there, trying to figure out the void in her life.

This film is a light-hearted way of looking at something as profound as love, what’s happened to you before, what you’ve lost. But if you love someone, you don’t really lose them because that time, those moments are always a part of you. In understanding that, Jaya and Yogi figure out where they’re headed. It’s about being in the present moment. What we try to do is see where the relationship is headed the first moment we meet the other person. And I realised that was me. I realised I don’t put myself out there enough like Jaya does. I learnt a lot about myself working on this film.

What was it like working with Irrfan?
Being cast opposite Irrfan Khan is like getting the best partner in film school. You wonder, wow, how did I get so lucky?

I believe that good co-actors always give you a lot more to do and they share your burden. Irrfan does this beautifully. He’s more of an actor than a star. That made me feel secure.

You’ve done Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil films. Why did Hindi cinema take so long to happen?
I’ve never been in a hurry to reach anywhere. After Notebook [Parvathy’s breakout 2006 Malayalam film] I felt I was in a bit of a rush and that killed it for me. I do just one film at a time. And if it’s a film which suits me, I’m fine.

Bollywood happened but it didn’t quite – some films were shelved or I didn’t get a good script. Directors saw my work and called me. I never really worried about it. But Qarib Qarib Singlle happened while I was shooting for Take Off last year.

I don’t really look at any scripts while shooting for a film because I’m so engrossed in a role. But I had two days off. I had the freedom of mind and space. The film’s director Tanuja Chandra liked me; I liked the script. They agreed to work around my dates, which people don’t usually do.

Bollywood happened. There was no strategy to make it happen.

Tu Chale To, Qarib Qarig Singlle (2017).

Are we going to see you in more Hindi films?
No, not just yet. After this, I go on to work with Anjali Menon on her new Malayalam film, which also stars Prithviraj and Nazariya. I also have the Malayalam film My Story with Prithviraj out early next year.

What is the difference between South Indian and Hindi cinema?
I don’t think there’s a difference. This is my first Bollywood film and it’s not even a typical Bollywood film. To me, working on Qarib Qarib Singlle felt like being at home in Kerala. We’d sit around and discuss the character and scenes just like we do in the Malayalam film industry – very casual, informal.

But I did feel the film’s promotion was very different from how we do it in Kerala. I do very little promotions of a Malayalam film. For Qarib Qarib Singlle, I had to do a lot of promotional stuff. I feel over-exposed.

What was it like learning Hindi?
I did my own dubbing for the film. I know Hindi quite well. I studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya growing up in Kerala. I also have North Indian friends. It wasn’t a problem at all.

You’re an active member of the Women in Cinema Collective. Is it going to make any difference in the ground?
Change can’t come about in the blink of an eye. We need to understand the damage that has been done from people staying silent for so long. We’re now trying to shake the ground through WCC. That’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. Change will happen but we can’t put a time on it. There are so many areas where women have been exploited or denied opportunities that we’re shocked by the depth of it.

You are very active on social media, including Instagram and Facebook. Is it to send out a message, to connect with the audience?
I just do it for fun. I get a lot of messages from people who follow or like me, asking me why I’m doing it. But before being Parvathy the actress, I’m also Parvathy the person. It’s my way of exploring myself, of expressing my opinion, just like any other individual. There’s no message. My only connection with audiences is through my films.

Parvathy in Poo (2008).
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Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.


The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.