For the Love Of Cinema – Varsha Bollamma Opens up!

The actor rose to fame after the tremendous success of 96 and is on a reel roll now! 

Though this young starlet kicked off her career in Cinema with the Tamil debut, Sathuran, she caught the attention of the Malayali audience with her dubsmash video of Mollywood sweetheart, Nazriya Nazeem. The video went viral and she came to be known as the doppelganger of the popular actress. Soon she stepped into Mollywood with films like Kalyanam and Mandharam but it was her performance in 96 that changed the course of her career. Ritz is in conversation with the pretty young lady, Varsha Bollamma, who is on a reel roll with films in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu! 

Interview: Riya Sonny Datson

Photography: Shafi Shakkeer

Costume: Zyra D&F Studio

Was Cinema always your dream career?

Yes, I always dreamt of being a part of the silver screen but I never knew how it was going to happen. While at school, I was active in dramatics and extracurricular activities but unfortunately, when I got into college, I didn’t clear the audition to the dramatics club. I was devastated as this was one thing that I loved and always felt confident about.  I strongly feel that when you earnestly wish for something to happen, the world conspires to make it happen for you. Cinema happened organically without much planning and my family has been extremely supportive of my choices.

Though you are basically from Kodagu, we hear that you are well versed in South Indian languages, especially Malayalam and Tamil.

I like learning languages. When I am at a new film set, I always try to talk to people on the sets in their local language. Whenever I get a break, I try to read and write the language as well. It feels great to read an article about yourself when you know the language else you have to seek another person’s help to translate it for you.

Tell us about your first experience while facing the camera.

I thought it was going to be a very scary movement but amazingly it felt very normal, as if it was the right thing to do.  There was absolutely no fear or tension while doing my first shot.

How do you choose a character?

The most important aspect is the script but apart from that when I hear of a character that I haven’t explored earlier, it excites me. It also scares me in a way as I wonder if I will be able to pull it off. But I look for different kinds of characters.

96 was a huge hit and it has been a movie that got you a lot of attention as well. What is your learning from the movie?

I learnt that a movie doesn’t necessarily need to be have an exotic story or a big budget but it has to come from the heart.  The entire team worked with passion and with a single goal that ‘we have to craft a good movie’. Our acting was also inclined towards a realistic or organic style of acting. It felt like just another day at a coffee shop or at college and didn’t feel like work at all.

How was the experience working with super stars like Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha?

Working with Vijay Sethupathi Sir was life changing. It was not like working with just another co-star. He taught me to do better, gave me advice and tips on not just acting but on how to be a better person. He really motivates you. I remember there was a driving scene where I had to drive fast and then all of a sudden jam the brakes. I wasn’t comfortable doing the scene with him by my side. Though I knew how to drive, I had to do the scene with a star and more than that, I was scared if I would be putting him in danger. But he was so cool about the whole thing and he kept telling me, ‘Its ok, I know you can do it.’ It was just the second day of shoot and here he was motivating me and showing his confidence in me.  Trisha is an actor who is very down to earth. I really like her simplicity. During breaks, she would sit down on the floor and feed the street dogs with whatever she had. She is very humble and a joy to work with.

How has life changed after being a star?

I think 96 brought about the change in my career and my life. The way the audience accepted me was just amazing. I didn’t realise that it had such a great impact until people started recognising me and appreciating me for my performance.  I think that is the greatest appreciation an actor can have!

How is Malayalam industry different from the other industries you have worked in and tell us one thing you like about Mollywood.

I have noticed that in the Malayalam industry, everything happens quickly – including the shoot. The story doesn’t really deviate from the script that is told to you which is something I appreciate. There is a lot of originality in the movies being made here and we, as actors from other states, always look forward to watching and being a part of the Malayalam industry.  I like everything about Malayalam movies but the most important factor is that I can relate to the movies being made here. I like the simplicity and the realistic way in which a film is made.

We hear you are doing a movie with Vijay and Nayanthara. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Yes, I have signed up for Bigil, which is a Tamil project with Vijay and Nayanthara. I am doing two Telugu projects, one named Choosi Choodangane with Shiva Kandukuri that is being directed by Sesha Sindhu Rao and the other is with Anand Devarakonda.

You have worked across several industries with different stars, looking back how does it feel?

I just wanted to be an actor. I never thought of acting with big names or big stars. So even now, sometimes I wonder if all this is for real. With each actor, I have always learnt something new. Especially with bigger stars, I have come to understand that they have reached where they are because of the people they are in real life. It is very inspiring.

Dream role: My friends keep teasing me saying that I have big eyes and that it scares them sometimes. So I think I would be able to pull off a character in a horror thriller.  Jokes apart, I think I would like to do a psychotic role.

Personal Fashion Mantra: Wear whatever you are comfortable in. It is important to dress to the occasion but it is equally important to be able to carry it off.

Interests: Reading novels, swimming, cycling and playing table tennis

Rapid Fire:

  • Can’t do without: My Phone
  • Favourite Read: How To Kill A Mocking Board!
  • Cinema is: Life
  • My Idol: My Mom!
  • Would Love to work with: Mohanlal Sir!
  • In My Bag Always: Mint
  • Crazy About: Books
  • Favourite Holiday: Amsterdam
  • Fitness Freak?: I workout atleast 3 days a week
  • Makeup Essentials: Eyeliner, Lip colour.
  • Relationship Status: Single
  • Varsha in 3 words: Funny, Trustworthy and caring