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Sunday, September 16, 2001

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On the comeback trail

She's not just one of those married actresses making a comeback. She is married, of course. But you really can't call her second innings a `comeback'. For she just took a break even when she was among the top and wasn't around here to take up offers after she got married.

After three long years, divided between Rajasthan, Dehra Dun and what is known as the Middle East, the Bharathiraja find is back with `Maayan'. ``After I got married, work did take a backseat. It just so happened that I was happy with the way things were,'' a bubbly and spirited Ranjitha tells Sudhish Kamath over lunch.

RANJITHA a.k.a. SREEVALLI We start off talking about `Maayan' that released on Friday. ``I wanted to work with Nasser as a director. I liked the way he gave me the script much in advance. What makes it more interesting is to work with an actor who's the director of the film,'' says Ranjitha. ``Besides, we are close family friends,'' she adds.

The conversation then shifts to the rich ``pure non-vegetarian food'' that she used to be pampered with at Nasser's place. ``I used to put on weight eating it,'' she quips.

Was that the only reason she gave up eating non- vegetarian food? ``Sort of. I was a vegetarian for a long time. And then I started eating non-vegetarian. I didn't like the taste of it very much either,'' Ranjitha says.

From food, we get back talking on movies. ``I like light-hearted movies. The only movies I love to watch are Jackie Chan movies. I am his fan. I prefer reading books to watching movies,'' she admits.

The Ally McBeal fan watches a bit of TV too, but is not too much into soaps either, in spite of being in one (Krishnadasi) herself.

``I like to watch movies for the message they give, even if it is about the usual message of good winning over evil,'' she says. ``But I also love the kind where you can leave your brains behind Movies that are pure fun,'' she says justifying her Jackie Chan stance.

So does she like the movies she has been doing? ``Earlier, I used to do films on the basis of co-stars than on scripts. But `Maayan' is a different kind of a role. Sort of a Robinhood tale set in the 1940s. It is not an arty movie. I play the hero's sister's daughter (`morae ponnu') who tries to reform the hero,'' she says.

Now, Ranjitha wants to enjoy working in the film and the unit more than anything else. Apart from good scripts of course. Even the `Akkas' and the `Aunties'? ``I really don't mind doing an Akka, if it is a good, strong and dominant role in the movie, even if it is a negative role. But Aunty role, NO...maybe after ten years,'' she smiles.

``Now, I want to do roles that require me to act. I should feel that I have done some work. The role should be motivating. I have to enjoy working in the film,'' Sreevalli adds.

Sreevalli? Yes, that was what she was before Bharathiraja made her Ranjitha. Her friends still call her `Valli'. It was circumstances that launched her into the filmdom. ``It was unexpected. I wanted to make some money, that's why I came into films,'' she says quite candidly.

And that is her forte. Honesty. No star-tantrums or fake attitude, here's a star who speaks her mind. Of course, with a mind of her own, who got married when she wanted to, and came back to do films, at her own terms. ``I had no plans or aims like many have''.

Major Rakesh and she were friends since college, and had known each other for quite a while, before they got married. ``We were in NCC together. I was in Ethiraj, he was in D.G.Vaishnav,'' she recalls.

So whose idea was it? ``I don't remember whose idea it was,'' laughs Ranjitha. With her hubby now in Srinagar, she was following the developments of `America's New War' quite closely.

Of the fifty plus films that she has done, her personal favourites include `Jai Hind' (``I enjoyed working in the movie. And it was one of the first movies that became a hit''), `Karna' (which gave her an image change), `Tamizhachchi', `Pondatti Rajyam', `Makkal Aatchi', `Mavichiguru' (the Telugu film that won her a State award for Best Supporting Actress) and Malayalam films, `Sundari Neeyum, Sundaran Nyanum' and `Sindoora Rekha'.

Ranjitha didn't give Hindi movies a try though. ``You need to dig, scratch, run around, it's another five years of work. And Hindi movies take longer,'' she reasons.

Besides, she is happy as she is. As a master of her own destiny.

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