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Spotlight > Andrea Jeremiah
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Miss Enchantress

In her beloved fairytale avatars, Andrea Jeremiah tells Vijetha Rangabashyam that living in a land of charm and magic is good because at times the real world becomes too much to deal with

There once was a little girl who grew up amidst the tranquillity and the lushness of a small town called Arakkonam with her grandmother. She soon moved to Chennai, only to find out how different dwelling in a city can be. Though the sudden change was overwhelming, the days that went by were filled with happiness for this little girl, who was part of a sweet family of four. There came a time when her parents presented her with a tiny red miniature piano, an antecedent to what then became a priceless gift. Her grandmother would teach her how to play twinkle, twinkle, little star and Mary had a little lamb and she would so deftly grasp the chords. That was Andrea Jeremiah’s first ever love affair with music. Music journeyed along with her, every single day of her life in some form or the other.

She grew up to be a woman of both talent and beauty and caught the attention of many filmmakers. Her dream of pursuing music abroad came to a standstill with a precious movie offer which was then followed by other opportunities. However, Andrea never gave up on music, it is now just her and her music within the four corners of a room, personal and poignant, just the way she likes it.
“I am a diehard romantic and a believer of destiny, much of what the story of Cinderella is all about. The tribulations caused by her stepmother and stepsisters did not stop her from becoming who she is meant to be – a princess. True love found her eventually.”

“The story is downright fascinating. Here is a girl who is locked up in a tower for many years and her hair grows so long that she lets it down so her man can rescue her. I think it is such a romantic thought, that a man would go to any length to get the woman of his dreams.”

Princess and the Pea
“It is such a quirky fairytale and the message is one that is simple – good breeding always shows in little things. The fact that she is a princess is not defined by her gown or her entourage but purely by her persona.”

Little Red Riding Hood

“The story reminds me of my relationship with my grandmother. I adore her not because she is my grandmother but because of the kind of person she is. She brings joy and warmth to anyone around her and I love her for that. Women of those days pretty much wrote their lives of for their families and I think that is pretty incredible.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
“So this girl is minding her own business and actually feels sorry for someone who is trying to sabotage her life. It happens to all of us; we unwittingly fall for con artists hearing their sob stories but then help comes from unexpected quarters. In her case she had the seven dwarfs and in my case I am still waiting for my seven dwarfs to trot along and take care of me.”

“When you are sixteen, the way you see the world changes and it suddenly occurred to me that I loved being on stage”
Being on stage is not something new for Andrea. Her recollection of performing goes back to when she was six or seven years old. She never saw performing as a special deal; it was something she did as a routine after school. “I used to sing like how every other kid used to go to school. It was part of who I was.” However, as she grew up, Andrea wanted to become a doctor and then a psychiatrist for a brief time. As fate would have it, her fondness for music was too much to not make a career out of it. “I always separated my passion from my career. But I soon realized that it does not work that way; my career has to be my passion.” She claims it was the hardest decision she had to make, considering choosing music as a career can be risky until something actually comes out of it. “A lot of people were unhappy with my decision. I remember my headmistress not speaking to me for a while because she thought I was wasting my brains.”

“My first film was supposed to be a 20 day shoot but it ended up stretching to 9 months”

Andrea never intended to do films even though she kept getting offers during her college days. She was actively involved in theatre and considering Chennai is a small city, she was instantly noticed by many filmmakers. “I never thought I would get into Tamil cinema and I am still in fact grappling with it. The first film I acted in was supposed to be a onetime affair. I was all set to go to Berkley school of music but a friend called and said that there is a role and it is only going to be a twenty day shoot. I thought I am anyway going to study so why not make some pocket money?” Andrea had worked with Gautham Menon before in a commercial and working with him again seemed like an exciting opportunity. “The twenty day shoot extended to several months and I decided to push my admission by a year. Sometimes it is hard to throw away something that you have invested so much of your time and effort in. I still have not given up on my music though.”

“Unlike singing on stage, in films you get second chances”
Though she has a strong hold on both music and acting, Andrea believes that singing on stage live needs a person to be actually talented. “You need to be genuinely competent to sing on stage. While when it comes to acting, you get a lot of guidance and a lot of cuts and retakes happen.” According to her, singing in a studio can be done by anyone given the advancement of technology. “You can sound far more brilliant than you actually are because of technology but singing live is something else.”

“Being on stage is the most electrifying experience ever”
Andrea claims that her relationship with music is very intimate and sometimes she wants music to allow her to think. “Music is something I listen to when I am driving my car. It is something I hum in my shower. It is something I listen to alone on my terrace or when I am playing my piano in the dark, in the middle of the night when everyone else is fast asleep.” However, the story changes when you perform on stage for a live audience, she says. “On stage, the intimate experience is shared and transforms into something bigger that picks up energy from every single person in the auditorium.” In terms of her best on stage experience, Andrea fondly remembers her unplugged show with AR Rahman in Delhi. “He is brilliant and I adore him. He was less than half foot away from me, playing the piano for me while I was singing Dreams on Fire. It was a surreal experience.”

“The greatest gift that I can give people is the fact that I am a hundred percent genuine”
Andrea says that the most special thing about her is also her greatest disadvantage in the film industry. “When I meet someone, they figure me out in two minutes. I am one of the most genuine people you will ever meet.” When it comes to acting, unlike most people, she does not believe that acting is pretending to be someone else. She believes in becoming one with the character. To her, mass appeal is something she has hardly given a thought about. “I have never sat and contrived in my mind as to what mass appeal is or what I should do to get mass appeal. People pinch my cheeks and tell me how I look cute on screen or how I have a great voice and to me that is genuine affection. Mass appeal is actually an illusion created by the industry.” The whole ‘girl in half sari’ bit is definitely appealing and is perhaps worth the mass appeal according to Andrea but she says that there are more than a few women who can project such an image and she does not see a point in joining the bandwagon. “I was not born with a face like that and I cannot do anything about it.”

“I did not even get a narration about my role in Vishwaroopam. Kamal sir said do you trust me? I said yes and he said so welcome aboard”
In her stint with the film industry, opportunities have always fallen on Andrea’s lap. She never had to pitch for herself for a particular movie. “There are times when people tell me that I have to be more proactive and when I do that, things have never worked out for me. Vishwaroopam happened to me like how every other movie happened to me.” The original cast for the film was no longer available and someone from the production unit who had worked with Andrea before on a film suggested she should do the role since she would be a good fit. A meeting with Kamal Hassan was arranged and the next thing she knew, she was going to act in his film. “I later met Gouthami ji because she was doing the costumes for the film. She asked me if Kamal sir had mentioned anything about my role to me and I said no, he just asked me to trust him. She said well Andrea that is the best way to work with this man.” Before Vishwaroopam, Andrea like any other person merely knew how good an actor Kamal is and his endless list of achievements. But after the movie, her respect for him went to great heights over time. “He is always on his toes or perennially thinking. For him, his entire world is cinema and he is the kind of person who might go broke doing a film but in spite of that he wants to do the kind of film that is challenging. I say a line in the trailer – ‘inthakadhailaelarkum double role iruku’ (in this story everyone has a double role) that sums up the film and the role I had to play in the film.”

“To me, the Kathak dance sequence is the most memorable moment of the entire film. Birju Maharaj ji is the most incredible man I have ever met”
When Andrea first heard that there was going to be a Kathak dance sequence in the film she got extremely excited considering she had undergone a little bit of Kathak training herself during college. “I am usually extremely freaked out about song and dance sequences but with Kamal sir, if he is putting a song in a particular sequence he has a very good reason for doing so.” Only after beginning to shoot for the sequence did Andrea realize how big Birju Maharaj was. “There are very few artists I have met in my life like Mandolin Srinivas and Zakir Hussain, who at their age, still have this beautiful childlike innocence. It blows me away. They are not cynical and they are so untouched by all the negative things. I think it is because of the purity of their art form and I think that is the closest to divinity. Birju Maharaj is one such personality who was patient with me and taught me the art from scratch.”

I have loved, lost and dared to love again. People been in relationships before have told me how they never want to be in one again. Me? I have treated every relationship I have been in like it is my first one. It is the hope of a fairytale ending that keeps me going.

Patterned tights, flowing cape shirt and the dwarfs hats thrown up in celebration of the enchanted awakening of Snow White.

Polka Dotted cape shirt from EVOLVE

Electric Blue High Waist Shorts from FOREVER NEW

Printed Leggings from EVOLVE

Tan Belt from CHARLES & KEITH

Coral neckpiece from FOREVER NEW

Bangle from AMETHYST

Hats from ALDO
Cindrella returning back to her dreaded life from the pretty pastels after leaving a shoe behind in a hurry.

Pastel Shrug from EVOLVE

Teal net top with ornamentation from EVOLVE

Grey Waistcoast worn around the waist from RITU KUMAR

Patched skirt from RMX JOSS

Brooch worn on head from EVOLVE

Earrings from ALDO

Bracelet from ALSO

Oyster Ring from AMETHYST

Cindrella shoe from CHARLES & KEITH

Floral Tiara from FOREVER NEW

Bow Brooch from EVOLVE

Pearl Necklace from ALDO

Chain necklace from FOREVER NEW

Blue studded ring from FOREVER NEW

Bird Ring from AMETHYST

Elephant bracelet from AMETHYST
Princess in all her glory and sophistication unable to sleep cause of the pea.

Sequinned top from RITU KUMAR

Maxi Skirt from FOREVER NEW

Sleeveless Jacket as layers on the skirt from EVOLVE

Printed Shirt from RITU KUMAR

Gold chains on crown from ALDO

Bracelet from ALDO


Coral Pumps from ALDO
This elegant take on Rapunzel, reflects the solitary confines along with the dreams of the better tomorrow.

Dress from EVOLVE

Blue studded ring from FOREVER NEW

Bird Ring from AMETHYST

Elephant bracelet from AMETHYST

Floral Tiara from FOREVER NEW

Bow Brooch from EVOLVE
The classic red is teamed with pastels and white for a fresh look this season.

White textured dress from EVOLVE

Sequinned net top from FOREVER NEW

Red shirt from RITU KUMAR

Patched necklace from EVOLVE

Strappy Sandals from ALDO

Bag from ALDO

Wristband from CHARLES & KEITH

Photography: Sunder Ramu

Styling: Vira Shah

Hair and Makeup: Rachel, Stylesmith
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