Rohini talks about her second innings in Mollywood.
Rohini, who had a long and successful innings as a leading lady in Malayalam cinema in the 1980's and ‘90's, is enjoying her second innings coming too. She says she is happy with the kind of character roles she has been doing since her comeback, both in Malayalam and Tamil. She is looking forward to 2012, when she will make her debut as a director.
Rohini spoke to Friday Review at Kozhikode, where she was shooting for Rajasenan's new film, ‘Innanu Aa Kalyanam.' Excerpts from an interview:
Your role in ‘Rock N Roll,' your comeback movie to Mollywood, was not a significant one.
I did it for Ranjith, the film's director. I actually wanted to begin my second innings in Mollywood with a role of substance. The interesting thing is that I wasn't the first choice for the role in Ranjith's film. Ranjith called me to find out if Anu Hasan would be available for the role. When Anu replied in the negative, Ranjith asked me if I was interested, and I said ‘yes.'
How has your return to films been so far?
So far so good. I am enjoying this phase of my career too. I have just done a couple of films so far in Malayalam, and I have been able to make my presence felt in films such as ‘City of God,' ‘Payyans,' and ‘Thalappavu.' It was disappointing to find that ‘City of God' did not do well at the box-office, for it was a well-made film.
It is in Tamil that I have been getting good roles now, beginning with ‘Virumaandi' in 2004; it was my first film after I quit the industry in 1996. Kamal Hasan had seen me anchoring a talk show on television and cast me in the film. I continue to get challenging roles in Tamil, like that of a mentally ill woman in Mishkin's ‘Nandalala.' Yes, I would love to do such roles in Malayalam too.
In your first innings it was in Malayalam that you got to do some memorable roles.
Yes. Most of my best works were in Malayalam. But I got excellent roles in Tamil too, in films such as ‘Marupadiyum,' ‘Pavunu Pavunuthan,' ‘Aasai' and ‘Magalir Mattum.' Although my debut film in Malayalam, ‘Kakka,' didn't do well commercially, I was noticed. My second film, ‘Kuyiline Thedi,' was a big hit. Mohanlal played the villain in it and it was the first ever script written by Priyadarshan.
I was lucky that I worked in Malayalam cinema during its golden period. I will always cherish the films I did with Padmarajan, Bharathan, I.V. Sasi, Joshiy, and Balachandra Menon. However, I regret that I never could work with Fazil and Kamal, two directors I respect a lot. ‘Ozhivukalam,' ‘Parannu Parannu Parannu,' ‘Aarante Mulla, Kochu Mulla,' ‘Oru Painkilikatha,' ‘Gayathridevi Ente Amma,' and ‘Kuyiline Thedi' are among the films that I always will be proud about. I was fortunate that I could share screen space with some gifted actors such as Mohanlal, Mammootty, Nedumudi Venu, Bharat Gopi, Srividya, and KPAC Lalitha. Malayalam cinema undoubtedly has the best actors in India.
You and Rahman were often paired together on screen then.
Yes, we did many films together. We were good friends and I think that reflected on screen too. And songs used to be made specifically for us.
Although you hardly dubbed for your characters in Malayalam, you have done some excellent work as a dubbing artiste in Tamil.
My mother tongue is Telugu but I grew up in Chennai. Although I learnt to read and write in Malayalam before I came to act here, I dubbed for myself only in ‘Bandhukkal Shathrukkal' and ‘City of God.' I began dubbing for other artistes with Mani Ratnam's ‘Geethanjali'; he asked me to lend voice to Girija in that film. I found it tough, but I enjoyed the challenge. Then I dubbed for Aishwarya Rai in ‘Iruvar,' which I consider is Mani's best work till date, ‘Guru' and ‘Ravanan'; for Manisha Koirala in ‘Bombay'; and Jyothika in ‘Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu.'
Do you find that a lot of changes in Malayalam cinema?
Yes, it is now trying to compete with Tamil and Hindi cinema in technique and style.
Would you like to direct a film in Malayalam yourself?
Yes. But only after my film in Tamil, which will go on the floors in January. It is based on a true story. It is about a 13-year-old boy working in a factory in Mumbai.