Samantha, the most happening actress down South. In a laid-back conversation with us, she talks about a range of topics – Anjaan, her crush for Surya, working with Vijay in Kaththi, objectification of women on screen and taking up womencentric roles in future – and gleams with a gamut of expressions.
For starters, Samantha is a Pallavaram girl. Despite her substantial foothold in Tollywood, which delivered her first break (she reprised Trisha’s role in Ye Maaya Chesave – the Telugu version of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya) as an actress in the industry, she always feels she is a hardcore Chennaiite by heart.
“I completely owe what I am to the Tollywood audience. It’s only because of their acceptance and love, I’m sitting here. But my tryst with the industry happened way back in Tamil cinema with Ravi Varman’s Moscowin Kavery, but Ye Maaya Chesave released first,” she says.
Samantha’s role as Jessie in YMC was celebrated in Tollywood just like how Tamil audiences adored Trisha’s fickle-mindedness in VTV. There was no turning back for Samantha since then.
Now, Samantha has catapulted herself as the most in-demand actress down South. She is at the pinnacle of her career in Tollywood, but she is yet to hit the purple patch in Kollywood. “I’m yet to carve a niche for myself in Tamil cinema. I hope my comeback film (Anjaan) runs successfully,” she remarks.
Surya was Samantha’s biggest crush during her college days. She graduated from the renowned Stella Maris College in Chennai. “We never used to attend our cultural programmes during college days. One fine day, we gotta know that Surya was the chief guest for an event and I was soo excited and waiting to catch a glimpse of him with my entire Pallavaram gang,” she recalls. And yes, her first shot with Surya, years later for Anjaan, gave her butterflies-in-the-stomach moment. “I was jumping on my toes inside, but outside I maintained my temperament. I was calm like a professional,” she jests.
How different is your role in Anjaan compared to other commercial films (in Telugu) you have done in recent past?
Anjaan is definitely a mass commercial film. But, it’s important that I do these kind of films to get exposure into the market. I have done films like Neethaane En Ponvasantham and Naan Ee, but it’s very important that I breakthrough and get exposed in mass films, because that’s where the main audience is. It was a thoughtful call to do Anjaan because of Lingusamy sir. He is known to give heroines sweet, good, impactful roles. That was the main reason. Even though the film might be about the hero, whenever the heroine comes, she always has a good role to play, which is very important.
What was your toughest scene/experience working in Anjaan?
It was very easy to be on the sets of Anjaan, mainly because of the cast and the crew. They are like a tree. They are always laughing and.. ‘Going to the Anjaan sets was going to a holiday’.
The first look promos of Anjaan, especially the ‘Ek Do Theen’ song oozes glamor and you look smoking-hot (yes, she blushed). Jessie, Nithya, Bindu (Eega/Naan Ee), recently Priya (Manam) – all had a beautiful-looking, dignified Samantha on screen. How tough was it for you to take the glamor route all of a sudden?
It is difficult. Hats off to all the glamorous heroines, because its not very easy to.. you know.. look hot on screen. Hats off to them. But, I didn’t like being typecast as the girl-next-door. I wanted to break the thought that I could only do roles like Jessie, Nithya. A lot of dailies and websites wrote that I cannot fit into glamorous roles. It’s certainly a conscious decision I took for Anjaan to prove that I can do all kinds of roles. So, that’s why I made this choice. Now, may be I will go back to what I like doing best (smiles).
You said you want to do all kinds of roles. Now that you have carved a sizeable market for yourselves down South, will you take up experimental roles, say women-oriented films like Queen, Mary Kom, Kahaani in future?
Definetely I want to. But, I need to make my position even stronger – We interrupted her with a sly ‘Eeeven stronger?’ here. Absolutely. Because in Tamil, I still haven’t created a niche for myself. I think I need to make my positon stronger before I can go ahead and start doing experimental films.
Actresses up North (Eg: Huma Qureshi) have been vocal about objectification of women on screen. You too had raised your voice once. How do you think we should eradicate this attitude, especailly down south?
I think it’s definitely changing. The emerging directors here are treating women equally on sets like every other star. It’s no longer like the 70s and the 80s, people treat women with great respect in the industry. Men and women are very equal now, may be on screen the hero has more importance but off screen, there’s always equal respect for both heroes and heroines. I think you can ask Lingusamy sir this question, he loves women (and she bursts out laughing).
No actress in the Indian film industry, currently, has a stellar line-up of releases in the offing like Samantha. She started this year with Manam in May where she shared screenspace with the three generations of Akkineni family – Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Nagarjuna and Naga Chaitanya. Then, her Autonagar Surya – where she again co-starred with Naga Chaitanya – released in June and another Telugu film Alludu Sreenu – where she paired with Bellamkonda Sai – released in July. Now, she has Anjaan with Suriya on August 15th and Rabhasa with Junior NTR on August 29th. And, she has Kaththi with Vijay for this Diwali and 10 Enradhukulla with Vikram for Pongal 2015. “I think I have equal fear and equal nervousness for each one of my films. They are all my babies and you can’t select one baby as the best out of all your children,” she says with a smile when we quizzed her about the role she is looking forward to the most.
You told on Twitter once, “Vijay is the shiest actor on this planet”. Tell us about your working experience with him in Kaththi.
Ya, he is. The difference between the way he stays calm and composed off screen and the instant transformation he makes on screen the moment camera starts rolling is just incredible. It’s like the night and day difference. He is always quiet on sets too. It’s really fun to see that kind of a changeover on screen.
How is Kaththi progressing? What percentage of shoot left?
It’s going well. After a pause.. ‘90% is over’. And she slyly asked, “Vijay fan ah neenga?”
You thanked Vijay Milton for your role in Vikram’s 10 Enradhukulla. Do you have a meaty role in the film?
Yes, yes. I have a very good role in 10 Enradhukulla. I’m very very happy about that role. I can’t wait to go back to shoot because it’s extremely fun to shoot that film. Vijay Milton is definitely a genius.
Bonus Snippets from Samantha for reading the full interview
- Samantha will marry only after 3 years and it will be surely a love marriage
- If given a chance, she would like to act with the sensational Vijay Sethupathy and Rajinikanth
- Like any mortal, she too has had her share of one-side love few years back, but she won’t reveal that unfortunate person’s identity to us
- OH YES. She has indeed watched Jigarthanda and liked Karthik Subbaraj’s work so much