Trisha, Nothing Short of Extraordinary

Through the many tough phases of her career – of being naïve and new to being judged and jostled, and then being cornered and questioned, Trisha has maintained absolute poise. She has stood her ground with utter dignity. She has held court and ruled over us like a true Queen – brave and strong. In a business owned and run by men, where a woman’s arrival and departure could be missed in the blink of an eye, Trisha has lasted for 15 years – and going as strong as ever. She has not slid into nondescript supporting roles, but has in fact grown powerful enough to carry an entire story on her shoulders. We adore her unabashed laughter as she cruises through our photoshoot without a fuss, but we admire the assertive tone she has taken in handling the dips and peaks of her career. She has earned our love and our admiration. #Respect!

KAANCHAN PRASHANTH IN CONVERSATION WITH TRISHA KRISHNAN…

THAT FIRST INTERVIEW YOU EVER DID, YOU WERE PRETTY SURE CINEMA WAS NOT YOUR CUP OF TEA.

Oh yeah! THAT interview… it taught me never to comment about the future because clearly we have no clue what will happen and how things will change! People still tease me about what I said!

WHEN YOU DID FINALLY ENTER CINEMA, HOW BIG AND BAD WAS IT?

When you are outside the industry you tend to have that kind of an opinion – that it is a bad place to be. I do not feel that way anymore. As for those people who expect something ‘more’ from you, they don’t exist only in showbiz. They are everywhere. You got to push away the toxic parts and embrace the positives in any job. That’s what I do. It also depends on how you are as a person and how you handle the industry you are in. For me cinema has always been a fun, magical world and it continues to be that way. I have never really gotten to see that Big Bad World that I thought it would be. I have met some wonderful people here and made some great friends.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING IN THIS 15-YEAR CAREER IN CINEMA?

Patience and… patience! If you ask me that’s what’s I’d say. In this industry you just absolutely have to be patient. I used to be an impatient person, but cinema has taught me to keep calm. That and also, to accept people the way they are. In a day you meet at least ten new people. You just have to go with the flow.

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE ‘NO. 1’ TAG THAT IS GIVEN TO AN ACTRESS? IS THERE SUCH A THING AS NO.1?

The tag per se is not real. But there is a hierarchy of sorts. There is the top level, then the next and the next, but there are no strict dividing lines. Whoever gives a blockbuster is immediately called No. 1. So more than that tag, what matters more is sustaining yourself at the top. That stability is what ultimately makes the difference.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT INSECURE OR ANGRY THAT YOU WILL BE REPLACED BY ONE OF THE YOUNGER, NEWER ACTRESSES?

Not at all! I can’t possibly do every movie. There are always going to be other actresses. I have not felt insecure ever and that may sound a bit arrogant. But yeah, that’s just the way it is. I do feel a competitive spirit from time-to-time. But insecure, never.

SUDDENLY YOU CHOSE TO DO A COMEDY-HORROR MOVIE. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE STORY WHEN IT WAS FIRST TOLD TO YOU? WAS THERE A STRATEGY BEHIND DOING NAYAKI?

When I ‘ok’ a script, I don’t think too far into the future. I don’t think too much about whether it’s going to be a hit or if it’s a viable venture. I take on scripts based on how they make me feel when I listen to them. There should be something in it that just jumps out at me. It should stir something inside me. That’s what I did with Nayaki and that’s how I go about my movies in general. Of course, during the course of making the movie any actor will sort of get an idea as to how the movie will be received by the audience. But that’s not the angle I go for to start with.

ANOTHER SURPRISE YOU CAME OUT WITH WAS KODI. DID YOU RELATE ON ANY LEVEL WITH THAT VERY FIERCELY COMPETITIVE CHARACTER THAT YOU PLAYED?

I related with her completely! I don’t think she was crass. She is just like all of us, but where we would draw a line in how far we would go to get something, she doesn’t. On some level I guess we wish we could be like her (a fiercely ambitious person), but we wouldn’t really want to go around stabbing people to get our way, right? When I agreed to do the part, people said that I would get type-cast as a villain and since it was in complete contradiction to what I had thus far played, they also said it was a big risk. But somehow I felt that I had to take the risk. If I let it pass, I didn’t know if I would get such an opportunity again. Thankfully it worked for me.

YOUR UPCOMING MOVIES GARJANAI, MOHINI, SATHURANGA VETTAI… THEY ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF FILMS. YOU SURE SEEM LIKE IN A NEW PHASE IN YOUR CAREER…

Yes. I feel like now is the time for me to do a variety of roles. To try different things. I believe they will do good for me. I’m really looking forward to all of these movies, because they are each so unique. In Sathuranga Vettai, I am working with Arvind Swami who has made a powerful come-back. I loved him as the romantic hero before. I never thought I would ever do a movie with him. But this is new side to him, works as well! The movie is not your regular love story, but at least it gave me the opportunity to work with him. Then there is my Malayalam movie Hey Jude. There’s a lot to look forward to

YOU HAVE WORKED WITH PRACTICALLY ALL THE TOP ACTORS… KAMAL HAASAN, AJITH, VIJAY, MAHESH BABU, SURIYA, VIKRAM… JUST ABOUT ALL OF THEM. WHO WAS THE SCARIEST TO WORK WITH?

That would have to be Kamal Haasan, for he is after all, Kamal Haasan – an icon, someone I grew up watching. So if there ever was someone I was in complete awe of, was Kamal Haasan. Also, he gives 300% dedication to his work, which makes you wonder if you are doing enough!

WERE YOU EVER SO AWED THAT YOU FORGOT YOUR LINES?

No. He makes sure that doesn’t happen. He doesn’t want you to feel that way on the set because then you can’t act. It won’t be natural. So he makes sure that he builds a good rapport with everyone before the movie begins. He does extensive workshops for at least two to three weeks, before shooting. This not only helps us get familiar with the character but also helps get rid of any inhibitions one may have.

 IT TOOK KAMAL HAASAN TO CONVINCE TRISHA TO DUB FOR HER OWN MOVIES – TRUE?

He didn’t actually convince me I had no choice because it was sync-sound! The first time I did sync-sound was for Aaytha Ezhuthu. 80 percent of the work is done and there isn’t much dubbing work in the case of sync-sound. But Kamal Haasan sure gave me the confidence to dub for myself. I always felt that someone who spoke Tamil with a better accent than mine would do justice to the characters. I know Tamil, no denying that, but it is an accentuated Tamil that I speak and it wouldn’t suit the roles that I play. But now I am working on my dubbing skills and I will be doing it more often.

THE BOLLYWOOD STORY…

I did Khatta Meetha only for Priyadarshan sir. He is my mentor, he was the one who launched me and any time he asks me to do a film for him I will do it. That’s all there was to it. Personally, I feel that in order to work in Bollywood consistently one has to have a base there. You can’t have one foot there and one foot here. You have to move there and give it your all. That’s the only way. At that point in time I was very content with the movies that I was doing here and I was not really keen on making the shift. I didn’t think it would work for me either.

BUT NOW DO YOU HAVE A CONCRETE BOLLYWOOD DREAM? SOMEONE YOU WANT TO WORK WITH, PERHAPS…

Honestly, no. Right now, I’m open to doing good cinema. Language does not matter. Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi all are the same to me. So I don’t feel the need to chase after any one language right now.  I just want to be part of good movies.

IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, YOU ARE THE COMMODITY THAT YOU HAVE TO SELL! WHAT’S YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY?

I’ve never really thought of it that way. I guess, it’s all about staying fit. Being healthy. Looking good. And I’m a little vain when it comes to pampering myself! I enjoy taking care of my skin and hair. So it helps that I’m in a business that requires me to do it! But when I look at the effort that other people put in, sometimes I feel like I should be doing more! Maybe I’m a bit too laid back! Then there is social media. I know many people say it’s a bad thing, but it does act as a platform to stay in touch with the audience.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ‘MEME’ CULTURE?

I have seen some nice ones and some really terrible ones! If you ask me whether I get affected by them, not really. Luckily, I’m a little thick skinned! Most things don’t affect me. I’ve always been this way, even before I started acting. But when something does get to me and I am really upset, I usually turn to my Mom or one of my close friends. When I am really, really upset, they start laughing and then it just becomes a joke, which kind of balances out the situation! It’s important to have a strong support system, otherwise you can fall apart from time-to-time.

IF NOT CINEMA…

I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. But the truth is I don’t think I could have sustained in anything else! I would have gotten bored in no time. The only reason I am still here in cinema is because each day is different. There’s something new happening. That’s what keeps me wanting more.

ANY SHORT-TERM OR LONG TERM-GOALS?

No, I’m just going with the flow! And I’m most definitely not going to say anything more, because I have learned from that very first interview of mine not to talk about the future!

WELL, WE LIKE TO BE SURPRISED AS WELL, SO WE’LL LET THAT QUESTION GO!

I have a bunch of interesting projects coming up. I’m not bridled by image or by expectations. I do what I love and give it my everything. No stopping to sigh and regret. I take everything in my stride and keep walking.

And we will keep cheering for her at every turn…