I feel intense love for Tamil cinema: Swedish actor Elli AvrRam

Elli AvrRam's outlook on Indian culture was no different, with Shah Rukh Khan's Devdas opening gates to Indian cinema. A chance screening of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film on a Swedish TV channel sparked her dream to act in an Indian film.

"I chanced upon a Bollywood song and got introduced to Indian culture. When Devdas came on television, it further motivated me to get here. After I came to India, I got introduced to South cinema," says Elli.

The portrayal of foreigners has left a lot to be desired in our cinema, but Naane Varuvean gets the casting of Elli AvrRam spot on. She plays Madhuri, the mute wife of Kathir (the evil twin played by Dhanush).

While the role itself is limited in screen time, it is impressive that the film normalises her presence without cashing in on sympathy or pity, or digging into her looks.

"It's the first time I have played a role like this. When Selvaraghavan sir narrated the story, the role felt challenging, and I was excited.

Elli's love for India isn't just fuelled by cinematic aspirations but spiritual inclinations as well. "I strongly believe that I was an Indian in my past life.", says Elli

While Elli has been part of multiple projects across languages since 2013, she credits Selvaraghavan and Dhanush for making her a better actor. "There are filmmakers who expect actors to be loud in performance and expression. However, Selva sir and Dhanush wanted the performance to be internalised.

They wanted the conflict to be expressed through my eyes. I loved that!" she adds. "For one of the scenes I performed, Selva sir asked everyone to clap, and honestly, that was the best validation I have got in my career so far.

Selva sir explains a scene, and sometimes, he even performs. It is a pleasure seeing him perform off-screen."

Dhanush too helped me ground my character, and yet, clearly communicated what the role demands."