She made her debut in films in 2002 with Maine Dil Tujko Diya but had to wait for two years before she could make a mark in Bollywood with Musafir. Although even this film didn’t do very well at the box office, Sameera Reddy had proved her mettle, and, in film parlance, had ‘arrived’.
However, nothing much came her way and Sameera had to return home (Tollywood) where a string of hits followed her. Sameera ‘arrived’, this time in the South.
A few more nondescript Hindi films (and even a couple of Bengali films), except for Race, didn’t bring her many laurels. Sameera had to wait for the right break, the right director and the right film. She found all that in Gautham Menon and Vaaranam Aayiram, the Tamil film where she was paired with Surya. Things have been on a roll, ever since.
Along came Sivaji Productions’ Asal opposite Ajith Kumar, directed by Saran, right now midway through production. Says Sameera, “I heard a one-line brief and was immediately excited by it. The plot seemed very good.” Having faith in Sivaji Productions, Sameera readily agreed to do Asal.
Sameera plays a highly sophisticated character in Asal. Being teamed with Saran and Ajith Kumar is a high point in her career. Just back after a long outdoor schedule in Malaysia, Sameera says, “I was pleasantly surprised at director Saran’s treatment of the film.”
Straddling three worlds
With 20 films under her belt and a few under production, a confident Sameera talks about how she straddles Bollywood, Tollywood and Kollywood.
“I have done Bengali films to satisfy an inner urge — my love for cinema. I can’t compare that with Bollywood or the South. I have been asked if I will now concentrate more on the South (after Vaaranam Aayiram). I am an artiste and I give my best to whichever film comes my way. I have three Hindi films and a Tamil film pending release, while a Tamil movie is under production.” If Vaaranam Aayiram is a film that brought Sameera to the notice of audiences in Tamil Nadu, it was Musafir that helped her grab eyeballs in Bollywood in 2004. “While my character in Vaaranam was that of a girl-next-door, in Hindi I would consider Musafir as a film that projected me as an actor of substance. Race (2008) helped me move to comedy which is the kind of roles I am doing in other films now,” says Sameera.
Her three Telugu films in 2005-06 brought her back to her home state with a bang. “I do Telugu films purely for sentimental reasons because of my father. He is from Andhra Pradesh and you know how big cinema is to the Telugu audience. I look for Telugu scripts that will make him proud and happy. He is delighted when one of my Telugu films gets released. I never made him prouder than when I did a film with Chiranjeevi,” says Sameera.
Today, considered a bankable commercial actor, Sameera plays roles that are purely entertainment-oriented. “Most Tamil and Telugu films are ‘masala’ films. We have to cater to the tastes of the local audience. For instance, in Tamil, a film like Vaaranam? would work, as much as Billa. But in Telugu, it’s a completely different sentiment. The masses there like a certain loudness and aggressiveness,” says Sameera about her films.
Consequently, she has to change her working style and character portrayal as demanded by the varied audiences in three languages. How does she manage this? “In the South, the production units are very disciplined and systematic, while in Bollywood they work on a different scale and, consequently, their planning and schedules are in tune with the demands of various artistes and technicians. While people in the South are simple and god-fearing, it’s a chaotic rat race in Bollywood, except for a few big banners,” explains Sameera.
Sameera is constantly on the move these days with demanding schedules in foreign locales and in India. “Right now, I am working on an untitled film with Gautham Menon. It is a very interesting script, out of the ordinary. It is a script-centric story with a powerful character. And, of course, there’s Asal with Sivaji Productions. I have just finished De Dhana Dhan in Hindi with Priyadarshan. Earlier this year, I wrapped up Red Alert in Hindi which is based on the Naxalite movement. Then there’s Nagesh Kukunoor’s Yeh Hausla, a woman-centric film.
Amidst all this, how does she find time to unwind? Says Sameera, “Yoga. I can do it anywhere any time. It really relaxes me and keeps me fit. And, I love to do outdoor activities such as walking and swimming rather than all those gym-related indoor exercises.”