A subtle yet strong role of a single mother is what made her return to face the camera, says Amala Akkineni.
This Friday, get ready to watch the gorgeous Amala Akkineni on silver screen, after two decades. A combination of reasons made Amala accept the role in Life Is Beautiful. “Sekhar Kammula was persistent. I had declined the offer at first because I feel complete in my life with my personal and professional responsibilities. I didn’t feel the urge to return to acting,” says Amala.
Sekhar met her repeatedly over three to four months and the role he offered her made Amala change her mind. “The role was of a working, widowed single mother who raises her children on her own terms. She is soft-spoken but strong from within. Personally, I have met many widows who’ve been thrown out of their homes. I had done a fund-raising event to help widows supported by Bala Vikasa group in Warangal. Through this film, if I can send out some kind of positive signal, I felt it would be worth the effort,” says Amala, speaking to us at Annapurna Studios.
Apart from the role, the confidence she had in Sekhar and the fact that she was required to shoot only for seven days turned the tables in favour of the film. “I could commit to that kind of time. It wouldn’t hamper my responsibilities at Blue Cross of Hyderabad,” she says. Her portions were shot during peak summer. “We had to shoot before the sun rays got harsh. So we’d shoot from 5a.m. to 8 a.m. The seven-day commitment stretched to a few more days. I would finish shooting and head out to my meetings at Blue Cross,” she says.
Amala confesses she was nervous about facing the camera. “I was working with newcomers (Abhijit, Rashmi and Kavya play her children in the film). In my attempt to make them feel comfortable, I forgot my nervousness. And it helped that Sekhar asked me to be myself,” she says, and adds after a pause, “I know what it is to be a mother of sons in real life. Through this film, I had fun being a mother of two girls.”
Amala’s decision to act took even Nagarjuna by surprise. “He asked me why I didn’t make this decision before and act in any of his productions,” she laughs. On the last day of the shoot, her son Akhil paid her a visit on the sets. “Akhil felt we were having a picnic than a shoot. He just exclaimed ‘cool’,” says Amala. She is yet to see the film in its entirety but has seen her portions. “Nag gave me a few tips before I went for the shoots because he knows what a 20-year break would mean,” she says. Amala recalls that in the 80s, there were no monitors on the shooting spot for actors to evaluate their performance instantly. “We didn’t know how we looked or how we have performed until we saw the film. Things have changed so much.”
After Life is Beautiful, she’s been getting feelers from other directors. “I don’t feel the need to act. But if I really like the role and it doesn’t demand much of my time, maybe...” she trails off. Amala understands that the recognition she got because of cinema has helped her in her social work. “So many people work for social causes. There’s no denying that my popularity helped me a lot,” she emphasises.
Finally, she is surprised and pleased that her return to acting has aroused curiosity. “Comeback is a term I wouldn’t like to use. I didn’t want expectations. Even my mom didn’t know that I acted in this film until she saw reports in the media,” she signs off.