Singer, songwriter, poet, and actress Andrea Jeremiah’s been quite busy, from releasing a poetry anthology titled “Broken Wing” and beginning the shooting of her upcoming movie, Pisasu 2, to learning archery for the long-awaited film Master, which is now available on Amazon Prime!
We had a chat with the multi-talented star about her passion for poetry, recent Kollywood projects and music, and that newfound baking obsession that we all seem to share, courtesy of the pandemic.
1. How long have you been dabbling in poetry? How did “Broken Wing” come about?
I remember writing a poem for my mom‘s birthday when I was five. It was titled- “May you always wake up like the beautiful sun!” All through my teenage years, writing was very cathartic for me; it paved the way for my journey as a singer/songwriter. “Broken Wing” is a collection of poems from across the years, in a way it chronicles the other side of my life. People read about my highs in the newspaper, but “Broken Wing” is about the lows- loss, pain, frustration, yearning and redemption… it’s all there.
2. What’s the response been like to your new book?
The whole idea of publishing this book was to raise funds for a charitable trust that I started a few years ago. I hope to further the cause of the girl child through our ‘Sofia Trust’. Since the book is self-published, we had to take care of every little detail, and the whole process was extremely personal. I asked my cousin Sheena Jeremiah who is a nurse by profession but an amateur artist at heart, to paint something for some of the poems, and that’s added a whole new dimension to the book. Sunder Ramu who is a leading photographer and dear friend also worked on a brilliant cover design for us. We wanted this book to be a glimpse into the person behind the persona that is Andrea Jeremiah 🙂
3. What’s the story behind the title of the book?
The title of the book is actually taken from the title of one of the poems, though I’m aware it bears some resemblance to Khalil Gibran’s “Broken Wings” 🙂 I think the very first poem in the book validates the significance of the title as well the journey that it’s been from there to where I am now. Every time I feel hopeless about life, something happens to lift me up, and I think that’s the real message, both of the book as well as life itself- that nothing is permanent, not the joys, not the sorrows, all we can ever hope for is to live in the moment, that is the only way we can ever truly be free. The book is available for Indian audience via Notion Press or for all abroad audience on Amazon.
Broken Wing by Andrea Jeremiah is available on Amazon worldwide
4. Pisasu 2 ‘s first look is eerily beautiful. What can you tell us about your role in the film?
I can’t say very much except that it’s the most challenging role I’ve ever done and I feel certain that it’s going to change my life on a professional and personal level. They say there’s always a silver lining, and in a way, I think this film is my silver lining to 2020 and the isolation of the whole lockdown experience. Director Mysskin has created an unforgettable character and I can’t wait for everyone to watch this one on the big screen.
5. How did the pandemic affect your plans in 2020? Have you been able to restore some amount of normalcy to your routine lately?
The pandemic affected all of our plans in some way! But I tried to put my time to the best use possible. I taught myself how to cook and bake, I set up a little terrace garden and grew my own veggies. I practiced a lot of yoga, and best of all, I finally took the plunge and got myself a puppy! But despite all of that, the lockdown did take its toll on me, as it did on everyone. Getting back to shoot has restored some sense of normalcy but I miss being onstage with my band, I miss hopping on a plane without a second thought.
6. What do you look for in roles and scripts?
I think the best thing about being an actor is that we get to live so many lives in this one lifetime. I’ve learned to ride a Harley (Thupparivalan), practice archery (Master), clean fish (Vadachennai), play left-handed guitar (Pisasu 2) and so much more, only because of the roles I’ve played. As a person, I get bored easily, so doing the same kind of roles would bore me. I look for scripts that challenge me both as an actor and as a person. Having said that, post a heavy script like Pisasu 2, I’m definitely going to look out for a fun film!
7. We hear you’ve been indulging in a lot of baking throughout quarantine. What are some of your favorite treats to make?
Yes I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps and become quite the baker during lockdown! I find baking very therapeutic, and the instant gratification of the process makes it very addictive! I’m a chocolate lover, so I did a lot of research on brownie recipes and combined tricks from all of them to create a sinful dark chocolate almond flour brownie. As I was unable to travel during the lockdown I couldn’t stock up on my favourite coffee, so I decided to savour the last of my single origin Guatemalan coffee beans by concocting my own coffee ice cream!
I also found this amazing recipe for chocolate zucchini cake and another recipe for this incredibly moist orange cake which is a big hit with all my friends. Then there’s plain vanilla tea cake that my mum loves, oatmeal cranberry choco-chip cookies, no-sugar multigrain banana bread that’s my dad’s favourite- the list goes on!
8. Any upcoming music of yours that we can look forward to?
Oh yes! This is another thing I have to thank the lockdown for… our debut album is finally happening! I’ve been onstage as a playback singer for quite a while, but there was always something missing- the yearning to be onstage performing MY own music. That’s how ‘The Jeremiah Project’ came to be.
My band members are my most favourite people in the world- Leon James, Keba Jeremiah (no, we aren’t related!) David Joseph, Kishore and Naveen. I come up with a tune and lyrics, and these guys work their magic and take it to a whole new level. Not only are they some of the finest musicians in India, each of them is an incredible music producer, so I’m blessed with the best! The only problem is they are so busy, it’s impossible to get them into the studio. But when the lockdown happened, everyone had enough time to work on the album, so I guess that was a major blessing in disguise!
9. What are some of your personal favourites from your recent discography?
The album will have 8 tracks in total. “24/7” is the band’s favourite, “Flavors” is my favourite, “Amusement” is our mix engineer Toby’s favorite, “Pull me back” is the fave among my friends and “Wicked” seems to be the crowd favourite thus far. No two songs are similar, each track falls under a different genre, we’ve been performing our songs onstage for a few years now, so we’ve had the time to perfect them.
10. What was your experience like working with Kamal Haasan in the Vishwaroopam series? What did you learn from being on set with him?
Kamal Hassan is an institution unto himself. I learned so much from him just by being on his set. They say that your early years shape your career the most, so I’m grateful that I got to work with some really good film-makers very early in my career. With Kamal sir, he was actor and director, and I spent almost 5 years under his tutelage, from Vishwaroopam 1 and 2, to Uttama Villain. It shaped me so much as an actor, both consciously and unconsciously. I learned my set etiquette from him. Till date, his set is the most professional set I’ve ever been on.
11. Of all your roles till date, which role was the most challenging / demanding?
That would have to be Chandra in Vadachennai. Nothing could’ve prepared me for my first day at shoot. There I was in a slum, dressed in a loud saree, my hair in a bun tied up in a tacky cloth towel. We were shooting not more than 20 minutes away from my home in Chennai and yet I felt like I had stepped into another world which felt so alien to me. After the first day of shoot, I went up to director Vetrimaaran and told him I would be okay with it if he decided to chuck me out of the film, but he just laughed and said I would get the hang of it soon. And he was right after all- Chandra has turned out to be one of my most memorable roles.
12. Any TV shows or books you’ve been hooked onto recently?
The Queen’s Gambit! What a splendid show. I binge-watched it, and that’s saying a lot, because I hardly ever watch anything. But during the lockdown, I made it a point to watch some good content. Another show I really enjoyed watching was Peaky Blinders. And I’ve always been an avid reader, so during the lockdown, I thought I’d share my reading list with my Insta followers, in the hopes of inspiring more people to read. ‘The Overstory’ was one book that blew me away.
13. Did you have any personal inspirations growing up? If so, who?
I think the person I looked up to the most while growing up was my grandmother. She was the rock of the family, and was always smiling and cheerful, humming something as she cooked monumental quantities of food for everyone ! She would wake up at 4 A.M., walk to church, tend to her garden, do her own cooking, and she did all of this right up until she fell ill in her 80s. People of my generation are tired of life in their mid-thirties. I hope to have my grandmother’s zest for life till the day I die.
14. If you could go back and tell your teen self one thing, what would it be?
I would tell her to believe in herself a lot more, to worry less about pimples and not take boys too seriously!