Rochelle Rao is now a household name, yet, deep down there’s a Chennai girl who misses home dearly. We caught up with the gorgeous host and model for a tête-à-tête from the heart… – L Romal M Singh
“I miss Chennai so much. Just sitting on the beach, eating sundal and having a blast… Mumbai can be super busy for me at times,” opens Rochelle Rao as we catch up with her on a rainy evening on Mumbai’s picturesque Marine Drive.
Rochelle Maria Rao is now a recognizable face and everybody around us on Marine Drive that evening knew who she was. Extraaa Innings brought her into every cricket-loving Indian’s living room and now she was here to stay.
“What I love most about Mumbai right now is the weather. You do have the monsoons in Chennai too, but the rains in Mumbai are just too evocatively unique,” says Rochelle. “Mumbai was always a part of the plan and there’s so much more I want to do here. That said, Chennai will always be home and the magic of that city is of a different kind altogether,” she adds.
Dreaming big, Rochelle has always wanted a career in films and that dream draws nearer every single day. “I’m open to both Bollywood and Kollywood and there was an offer from a film, where I would have been paired opposite Simbu (Silambarasan). It’s just that those scripts didn’t work for me. I need something meatier, more substantial. I don’t thing playing the damsel in distress will work for me,” Rochelle explains.
Inclined to sports from a very young age, Rochelle fits the sports hostess bill perfectly. She’s amazingly in shape and dressed to perfection, always. “A lot of people talk about my dressing sense, and I must admit, I have a lot to thank my sister for. Paloma is almost completely responsible for making me the person I am today. She’s groomed me, readied me for TV and still helps me pick and shop for my clothes. She’s almost been like a mom to me. I adore her to bits,” gushes Rochelle.
So don’t you miss her being in Mumbai, we’re forced to ask. “Of course, I miss her and my home a lot. Chennai is so different from here. It’s a city that just lets you be. It lets you relax and live a simple life. Nobody’s really concerned about maintaining an ‘image’ – something that Mumbai is preoccupied with. I mean look at how much people care about how they look in this city. Chennai is far too chilled out for something like that.”
The Chennai girl finally surfaces and we’re thrilled. “While I love Mumbai and the opportunities it gives me… there are some things that only Chennai can give you. That said, don’t get me wrong. I love this city. Mumbai has always been part of my plans, ever since the Miss India pageant. I can’t imagine a career in TV without being based out of this city. It’s just that it can be very fast sometimes and a Chennai girl can feel slightly out of place,” Rochelle concludes and we can’t but agree.
Before the rains decide drown us, we quickly ask Rochelle the last question – so, what plans in the future? “Well, a lot more TV and yes, Bollywood! I would gladly take up a film in either Hindi or Tamil if the script seems right,” Rochelle says as we exchange our farewell pleasantries and go our respective ways – two South Indians in a strange city that stops for no one.