“Until I signed my contract, I could not believe that I was working in Bollywood, that too with Anurag Basu!”says actor Pearle Maaney, talking about Ludo, an anthology, that drops on Netflix on November 12. “I was doing the show, Bigg Boss [for Asianet] and I was cut off from the outside world when the team of Ludo contacted my dad. I had no clue about this as he was not allowed to get in touch with me because of the rules of the show. They waited till I came out of the house. I was over the moon when he broke the news to me. It was like as if the drama in the show wasn’t enough! So from the Bigg Boss house I went straight to Mumbai to meet dada [Anurag Basu] to confirm if it’s really happening,” says Pearle.
She is part of an ensemble cast that has Rajkummar Rao, Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh. “I felt I haven’t done enough of solid roles in my career to bag such a project. Anurag sir told me that it was cinematographer Ravi Varman who suggested my name. In fact, dada hasn’t watched any of my work, either on television or in movies. He just went by my look and probably finalised me after our first interaction. I was amazed by his conviction in bringing me on board,” she says.
In this dark comedy, Anurag weaves in four segments and uses the board game as a metaphor, with each of the four colours of the quadrants — red, blue, green and yellow — representing a story. Pearle’s segment stands for blue. She plays Sheeja, a nurse from Kerala working in Mumbai, and is paired opposite Rohit Suresh Saraf, last seen in The Sky Is Pink. “Malayali nurses have earned a lot of goodwill from across the world with their work. Anurag sir even asked me to choose the name for the character,” she says.
Going by the trailer, she and Rohit end up with a lot of money, which they are seen drying and ironing! She adds that it has been “a physically challenging role”, with a lot of silence along with emotional scenes and action sequences. “I could pull it off because of my director. He brings out the best in an artiste and we just had to do what he asked us to do, nothing more nothing less. It was a learning experience as well for me since I also love to work behind the camera. I observed how he handled each artiste and kept them relaxed. Moreover, he was friends with everyone on the set and so all of us wanted to make him happy,” she says.
Pearle got used the work culture in Bollywood as the shoot progressed. “In the first schedule, I got a feel of the set and was excited to realise that I was in the same space where the likes of Shah Rukh Khan had worked. It was also good to see so many women working behind the scenes, which is slowly picking up in the Malayalam film industry. And I even taught Malayalam to quite a few people,” she says.
Pearle had shot to fame as the host of the cookery-travel show Taste of Kerala on Amrita TV, travelling on her bike. Her uninhibited humour and curly locks made her stand out and she made her début in tinseltown with Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvannabhoomi. Although she has not done many films, she has been busy as a television anchor and stage show host.
She has been keeping herself busy during the lockdown by creating content for her YouTube channel, along with her husband, actor Srinish Aravind. Now in the second trimester of her pregnancy, Pearle says that she is happy about bringing smiles to people’s faces during such a tough time. “The film ought to have reached theatres in April. Initially I was disappointed when I came to know that it would be an OTT release. But, later, when I understood that it is going to reach viewers in 190 countries, I couldn’t have asked for more,” she signs off.