Padmapriya steps into Bollywood with ‘Striker.'

Padmapriya is going places. The striking actor from the South makes a foray into Bollywood with the Hindi film ‘Striker,' as she follows in the footsteps of Asin and Genelia in recent times. The award-winning Padmapriya's power-packed Neeli in the blockbuster ‘Pazhassi Raja' highlighted the versatility of the actor who has shown again that she is more than a pretty woman. On the eve of her Bollywood debut in Chandan Arora's ‘Striker,' Padmapriya admits she is excited about her first film in Hindi opposite ‘Rang de Basanthi' fame Siddarth. “Siddarth had seen my films and it was he who had recommended my name to Chandan. So Chandan contacted me and as I soon as I heard the script I said ‘yes,'” says Padmapriya, in an interview over the phone from Mumbai.

“It is a tale of endurance and courage. My character Madhu is a saucy Maharashtrian Koli woman who runs a bar. I speak a kind of Mumbaiya Hindi and I have dubbed for the film myself. The bar, a kind of an adda, is famous for its fish delicacies and Siddarth's character also frequents the bar and then they become attracted to each other,” explains Padmapriya. And then…. “See the film…If I tell you that, then the plot will be spoilt,” she laughs. The veggie quickly adds that she did not have to cook the fish.

She also adds that though it is new territory for her, she is not nervous as she is confident about her talent and the film. “Cinema is more or less a director's medium and Chandan is a superb director. I am extremely choosy about my roles as I want variety; I would like to work with the best of people. And I think in all 31 of my films, I have never repeated myself.”

Shining star

Moreover, unlike many Mollywood stars whose glitter fades after a couple of years in the industry, Padmapriya continues to surprise her viewers with brilliant performances although all her roles may not give her the space to show off her histrionics. Now, the actor certainly seems to be headed in the right direction with five releases in as many languages.

“Since ‘Pokkisham' I have been on a roll. There is ‘Andari Banduvaya' directed by Chandra Siddhartha in Telugu, Simbudevan's ‘Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam' in Tamil, Shaji N. Karun's ‘Kutty Srank' and Agni Shridar's ‘Thamassu' in Kannada,” says Padmapriya.

In each of the films Padmapriya plays very different characters. If Malayalam cinema last saw her as the bold and beautiful tribal leader Neeli opposite Manoj K. Jayan, she will next appear as a mystical Buddhist monk in ‘Kutty Srank' opposite Mammootty. “‘Irumbu Kottai…' has a cowboy Western flavour that has been captured so well by Simbu. It is a typical David vs. Goliath story where a group of villagers takes on the big shots and my character Bali is one of those who mobilise the people,” gushes Padmapriya.

To ensure that her characters look real in reel life, the actor goes that extra mile. For instance, to play the rebellious Neeli, Padmapriya learnt Kalaripyattu so that her moves had that grace and agility of a Kalaripyattu artiste. But after playing mother in two Malayalam films, she is determined not to don another ‘mother role' anytime soon. “I don't mind waiting. I would love to do Malayalam films. It is ages since I acted in a film with Lalettan [Mohanlal] or Raju [Prithviraj] but something interesting has to come up,” says the actor.

Meanwhile, let us hope she strikes it rich in Bollywood.