Cinema

Women who rocked the big screen

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The past couple of years have been good to actresses. They delved deep into roles with a difference, written especially for them.

The past couple of years have been good to women actors. They delved deep into roles with a difference, written especially for them. A fisherwoman who turns ace boxer, a girl with cerebral palsy full of love and life, a teacher reintroduced to her conscience, a girl from small town India who decides to face life head-on, a woman endlessly waiting for a man long gone… METROPLUS speaks to the artistes who essayed these varied characters with aplomb.

Actor: Jyotika

Character: Vasanthi

Film: 36 Vayadhinile

Director: Rosshan Andrrews

A clerk at the Revenue Department gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the President of India, but botches up the chance. She moves on, encourages her neighbourhood to take up terrace gardening, and succeeds in re-establishing herself as a confident woman.

What drew you to the character?

That it was steeped in reality. We have many women-centric films that are far from real life. 36 Vayadhinile is the story of a regular woman. Women, in my opinion, are everyday heroes. I feel Mary Kom and Neerja are better women-centric films than Kahaani or Queen — because they’re about people who are real.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character and why?

Gone Girl was a bold attempt in showcasing a woman. It was not just about her; it was about her giving back. Then, there’s Shabana Azmi’s Arth, one of my all-time favourites, and Tabu’s Astitva. These are films that dealt with different aspects of women’s lives. I’ve heard a lot about Sripriya maam’s Aval Appadithan and would like to watch that.



Actor: Richa Chadda

Character: Devi

Film: Masaan

Director: Neeraj Ghaywan

Set in Varanasi, the film is about Devi, who is everything a quintessential Indian heroine is not. She dares to explore her sexuality, rebelling against the patriarchal society around her.

What drew you to the character?

Devi was written by Neeraj and Varun keeping me in mind. I was certain that it would be a memorable film. I had never read a character like that, who was strong but not sorry. She was unapologetic about her sexuality and curiosity for life. She wanted to escape. I really knew the character of Devi like my second skin, even though I couldn’t relate to her.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character and why?

There are many interesting characters — from the poetry-loving, romantic women of Pakeezah and Anarkali, and the flawed, impulsive and bratty Geet (Jab We Met) to the drunk women of Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam and Gangster. I liked Rani from Queen. She evolved by the end of the film. I dislike the Kati Patang type of characters of the past with an ‘abhla nari’ attitude to life.

Actor: Kalki Koechlin

Character: Laila

Film: Margarita With A Straw

Director: Shonali Bose

Who would not fall in love with the adorable and effervescent Laila, a teenager with cerebral palsy? She enjoys life in its entirety, and boldly explores her sexuality.

What drew you to this character?

It was the fact that Laila was portrayed as a regular teenager, not exalted for her disability, nor apologetic about her sexual choices. She was just a human being with her faults, and the ability to learn from them.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character and why?

There are so many. Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County and Sophie’s Choice, Tabu in Chandni Bar and The Namesake, Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen, and Juliette Binoche in nearly everything she does!

Actor: Ritika Singh

Character: Madhi

Film: Irudhi Suttru

Director: Sudha Kongara

Madhavan, a disgraced boxing coach, unearths the raw talent of Madhi, a fisherwoman in Chennai. He trains her to face bigger tournaments and challenges, in the process, redeeming himself.

What drew you to the character?

I first heard the narration without knowing what I’d be doing in the film. When I was told that I was their choice to play Madhi, the character that I loved, I was dumbstruck. She goes through a lot in life — some of which we show in the film — but is still strong, carefree and with a great sense of fun. All these qualities — and the fact that she is a rookie boxer {Ritika is a boxer herself} — drew me to her.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character and why?

It would have to be Samantha from Sex and the City. I like the fact that she loves herself more than anyone else. Also, Samantha is someone who loves what she does and doesn’t care much about what people think of her… the independence in her stands out.

Actor: Radhika Prasidhha

Character: Merlin

Film: Kuttram Kadithal

Director: Bramma G

The film is about a newly-wed school teacher, haunted by an incident where a student loses consciousness after she slaps him. As the situation in the school turns turbulent, she and her husband flee from Chennai. But finally, Merlin decides to face the consequences of her actions.

What drew you to the character?

More than the role itself, I think it was how it read as a script. It was a story that moved me. A script needs to make you feel human. Only then can an actor translate even some part of what’s expected of him/her. Maybe, I am just young and overwhelmed. But, this is how I feel now.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character and why?

As clichéd as it may sound, Amelie is my favourite character for the lightness. I love the carefree manner and the contrasting depth with which Audrey Tautou portrays her. In Tamil cinema, Revathy’s character in Punnagai Mannan is one that I can never forget, because it’s my favourite love story. Because, she gets to do all the fun things that a mainstream female actor does, but is never for a moment just a sidekick to the hero.



Actor: Parvathy

Character: Kanchanamala

Film: Ennu Ninte Moideen

Director: R.S. Vimal

Based on a real-life love story, the film’s female protagonist is Kanchanamala, a bright student who protests against injustice in her college. She falls passionately in love with Moideen, a Muslim political leader, and braves the conservative society around her.

What drew you to the character?

The fact that I would be able to create a character more from fact than fiction really excited me. I wanted to explore the process of essaying a real-life character. Then, of course, the time period the story is set in made it even more interesting to understand their love and relationship.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character and why?

There are too many to mention — from old Indian movies to international ones. Although it’s not specifically the character that I wish I could have played, but the writing I wish I could have been offered. I wish for stories that are more about human relationships that are still unexplored, than those that focus on a hero or a heroine.



Actor: Sai Pallavi

Character: Malar Teacher

Film: Premam

Director: Alphonse Putharen

Thanks to Premam, Sai Pallavi, aka Malar Teacher, waltzed into everyone’s hearts. What was not to like about her character? A demure-looking but sparkly-eyed temporary lecturer who rocked the sari look as well as the dabbankuthu dance; a girl flush in love and later confused with her memory loss; and finally, a woman with the maturity to let her love be, and see him find happiness with another.

What drew you to the character?

More than the character, I think it was Alphonse Putharen’s confidence in my ability. I was insecure about entering the industry, and more so, when he told me my character was a teacher whose student falls in love with her. I did wonder how well it would go down, but he told me that people will worship Malar Teacher.

Who is your favourite onscreen female character, and why?

In recent times, it would be Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra from Bajirao Mastani. I think they put their souls into the movie. It felt like watching a real-life drama; their presence forced you to be a part of the drama on screen. When they cried, you shed tears, when they were happy, you smiled. That takes ability.

I’m a huge fan of Ramya Krishnan. She’s unbelievable on screen. I’ve watched her Amman about 50 times. She has a rare dignity and confidence, like she can take on anything and do it well.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2017 3:02:11 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/women-who-rocked-the-big-screen/article8323823.ece