How did cinema come about?
I never thought I could act. I was happy to be myself, the person I always was and still am. I never thought I could pretend to be someone else in front of the camera. I wanted to do something that was creative and fun. There were only two possibilities open to me. Either I was to go up on the ramp or, I was to start acting. I could never see myself doing a 9-to-5 job. I didn’t want to walk as a hanger for anybody. I just couldn’t see myself doing it. I wanted a name to my face. I wanted an identity. That was the reason I chose to act. What helped me in acting was my dramatic side. I am a stage performer, and I have learnt how to dance. It all added to my talent in acting!
From that point to becoming a popular actress… quite a journey! What have your predominant thoughts been so far?
It was not as rosy and nice as it looks from outside. Every day, I often tell myself that I will one day have to climb down this same ladder that has taken me up. And on my way down I will be meeting the same people who helped me go up. I make sure I don’t hurt any of them. Being slotted as the “number one” means that there won’t be any progress after that. I am just happy being in the process of progress. I don’t want to become the “number one”. I have kept myself grounded, because I don’t want to be the next god.
You’ve been working from when you were pretty young – does it feel like it’s always been about work? Did you feel like a part of your younger days were taken away from you?
Not really. I am not one of those who left studies for work. I completed my graduation and then came to work. I started modeling while I was still studying, but when I came to the industry I had already graduated. I didn’t waste my time. At the same time I didn’t give up the happy days of my life!
Looking back at your repertoire of roles in South Indian cinema, what would you say was your best? And which ones were the worst?
The clichéd roles I did were the worst. I was not adding anything to the script. I sincerely wish and hope that phase has well and truly ended. There are many among the good ones. Starting from my debut in Tamil – that was something I never imagined would become that big – I was so surprised when I realised that my value was much more than I anticipated. My role in Hindi cinema is also important. In Telugu cinema, I’d say Mr. Perfect, although my role was barely forty-five minutes long. It was the reason the story went ahead. I didn’t have to act much as such, just that I had to portray myself. Mogudu is also a memorable film.
If you had a chance to do differently, any of the roles you’ve taken up so far, which would it be, and why?
I think that would be my role in Aadukalam. It was good – but when I see it now, I realise that I wasn’t doing my best. In my mind I was wondering whether I had spoken my lines correctly and if I had spoken the correct words in Tamil. I am not that tense now, of course, and that’s why I know I will play it even better now. People think that the role in Aadukalam was my best performance but I know that when I was shooting for it, I was not completely sure in my mind, that I was doing it right. As for Telugu, I had dubbed for myself because I feel Telugu is a lot easier to speak since it sounds like Sanskrit. I am in my third and fourth films in Tamil right now and I don’t even try to dub!
Do you have any regrets in your career, or any mistakes, perhaps?
If we don’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t learn our lessons. If I hadn’t made any mistakes in my first few movies, I would have made them at a different time. My mistakes happened when I accepted the movie too early before listening to the script completely. After that, I learned from the experience. I won’t say which language, but it was not in Tamil. I have age on my side. I am too young to portray the sad or depressed person. They want me to play a glamorous girl. Later on in my career, maybe, I can move on to something mature and serious. I don’t have problems with that.
Let’s talk about Muni 3. It’s quite un-Taapsee, isn’t it?
It is very, very un-Taapsee in many, many ways! The girl you see there is not as much the usual girl that I play. It has been the most challenging role in my career so far. I am definitely not a commercial heroine in this movie. See, it took me a month’s time to say yes to the offer. Even today I go by Lawrence sir’s confidence in me – because he thinks he can make me do it well. We haven’t started shooting the horror scenes as yet. We are now just shooting the comic portions. His comic timing is so good! It is a level higher than what came to be in Kanchana. He has invented a new genre, in itself. I was very lucky that I got to be a part of the movie, as not just a heroine, but a very central character in the movie. Just the other day, I was telling Lawrence sir that I wouldn’t see the movie when it is released. He said he would drag me to the theatre to watch the movie. I guess, yes, I will definitely see the movie! It is the first time I am doing a horror flick, by the beach and the waves – it is already so scary!
What’s going into your preparations for the role in Muni 3?
Since I can’t reveal much about my character, I’ll stop with saying that I am not playing one of the chirpy girlie roles. It is a serious character. I have made sure that the way I look and the way I carry myself are all different from my last movies. It is the director’s job after that. In Muni 3, there are three comedians, Mayilsamy, Shyam and Manobala sir. The rest is something you have to wait to watch!
What is your relationship with Manoj Manchu? And is your friendship with Lakshmi Manchu stronger because you are seeing Manoj?
To answer this once and for all, I am not seeing Manoj now and I was never seeing Manoj at all. It is just a sad situation in the industry that in order to justify your friendship with a guy in the industry, you have to either make that guy a brother or not talk to that guy at all. I am close to the Manchu family and they were the ones who brought me into the industry. My friendship with them will never be affected. I have always been close to them and will remain so. Manoj is very dear to me as a friend and for that if I have to tie a rakhi to justify that nothing is going on between us, then I pity people’s thinking. I am only answerable to my family and they know the truth. I don’t care what other people say.
So what’s this we hear about you and Arya being an item?
Looks like I am an item every second or third week! The sad part is that I have been single for a long time now. People are thinking happily about love and all that. Recently I celebrated Valentine’s Day at my friend’s restaurant in Hyderabad, and I chose to wear an outfit suiting the occasion, but with no valentine at all. I told my friends to get me roses, just to make it a very lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day. My friend made me cut the Valentine Day’s cake at his restaurant. I was constantly cribbing, because I have no valentine. But hopes are always high…
What’s happening right now on the work front? Where are you headed?
Right now I am pretty occupied with the work front. I don’t even have time to go back to Delhi to spend time with my family! For Shadow, there is just one song is left. My Tamil movie with Ajith sir is just about 50 percent done. Muni 3 has just started. In the Hindi project, I have a 30-day schedule to promote my film – Chashme Baddoor. That’s what my life is like right now. Chashme Baddoor releases on April 5, 2013. Gundello Godari is releasing on March 8, 2013. Shadow is also releasing after that. I want my next venture in Hindi to be a notch above Chashme Baddoor. I am just waiting to get better offers – that said, I will be taking on offers only after May because I don’t have dates before that!