Nadiya Moidu on ‘Wonder Women’: ‘Anjali Menon challenged me to think differently’

Nadiya has a significant role in Anjali’s Wonder Women, about six pregnant women and their journey together, which is releasing on SonyLIV on November 18

Nadiya has a significant role in Anjali’s Wonder Women, about six pregnant women and their journey together, which is releasing on SonyLIV on November 18

Talking to Nadiya Moidu is like catching up with an old friend. That infectious laugh, the joie de vivre, it all comes through in a telephone conversation with the actor as she talks about her role in Anjali Menon’s movie Wonder Women.

Nadiya plays Nandita, who runs a pre-natal centre where six pregnant women from different walks of life and regions come to prepare for motherhood. Wonder Women is about how these women bond as they go through the milestones and the journey together. It is about each empowering the other.

Nadiya explains that it is a journey that a family travels with the would-be mother. “It is not only a woman’s issue. The entire family is involved in supporting the mother and the new life that is coming into being. It is a beautiful journey that one goes through over the nine months, a journey that slowly grows on you.”

Nadiya Moidu (left) with  Archana Padmini, Nithya Menen and Sayonara Philp in Wonder Women 

Nadiya Moidu (left) with Archana Padmini, Nithya Menen and Sayonara Philp in Wonder Women 

The veteran actor believes that there is a special bonding that happens within a group of women. She feels that “the bond, the energy and the madness that women share is something else.”  Although the other actors were younger than her, Nadiya experienced the same bonding on the sets.

“It was a learning experience to be with a bunch of sharp, intelligent and witty women. They are not just extremely talented actors, they are far more knowledgeable about the craft, far more clued-in about their work as well. Today’s generation is so proactive about the work they do. The conversations we had were amazing. It is a different school. I am still old school. I took away a lot from the film,” says Nadiya, who made her debut in cinema in Fazil’s evergreen movie Nokketha Dhoorathu Kannum Nattu in 1984.

Working with Anjali Menon for the first time in a movie, Nadiya admits she was over the moon when the filmmaker offered her the role, as she was a writer-director Nadiya was keen on working with.

Nadiya Moidu as Nandita in Anjali Menon’s Wonder Women 

Nadiya Moidu as Nandita in Anjali Menon’s Wonder Women 

“Nandita is such a lovely character. When you get to my age, you get pigeon holed so easily with the kind of characters we normally play. Streaming platforms are where women can be seen as heroes, a place where age is not a barrier,” explains Nadia.

Pointing out how the director had beautifully woven the characters into this film, she adds that all the actors were at ease with Anjali. “Even those acting for the first time [Sayanora Philip] felt at home. I was probably the only who was not associated with Anjali as much as the others.”

Nadiya avers that while she is happy working with male directors, working with a woman director, any woman director for that matter, creates a special comfort zone. “I had many firsts during the shooting of Wonder Women. I am used to somebody giving me the script, telling me to find the lines and then, perhaps, telling me how to modulate it while saying the dialogues. Then I go and speak the lines.”

However, she got a surprise when Anjali explained the gist of the situation and told Nadiya to deliver the lines she wanted to say. Since Nadiya had several dialogues, she remembers being perturbed when she was told to adlib.

“However, Anjali was happy that I was ready to accept whatever was thrown at me. She does her job differently. She challenged me differently, made me think differently. She also has a very different way of explaining things,” elaborates Nadiya.

Nadiya feels that while Anjali explains a scene, she brings in multiple layers of the characters, about her past, what shaped her, where she comes from…

“She brings in that character in you. It is not like somebody explaining that this scene will happen now, followed by the next and so on. She has a different narrative.”

As a mother herself, did she draw upon her own experiences to play the role? Nadiya says there were lots of factors that took her back 25 years ago when she had her first child. “We lived abroad and I had attended Lamaze (a kind of breathing exercises for pregnant women) classes with my husband.”

Recalling the chit- chat with other would-be mums in her class, she adds, “We talked about what each was going through while the husbands talked about what was happening in their lives, the men feeling uncomfortable with the whole situation.”

Nadiya will soon be seen in another Malayalam film, an anthology based on litterateur MT Vasudevan Nair’s stories. “It is an OTT film and I have worked with Fahadh Faasil in it. While working with Fazil uncle (director Fazil) in Poove Poochooda Vaa (1985), I remember seeing his son Fahadh as a little boy, running around the set. It was fun to shoot with Fahadh and work with him.”

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