Rima Kallingal talks about how she has broken free from stereotypes even as her latest flick Escape From Uganda, in which she plays the starring role, hits theatres.

In an industry where actors get stereotyped rather easily, Rima Kallingal was quick to be perceived as the ‘modern’ girl, not only for her looks but for her strikingly bold choice of roles. However, the dancer-turned-actor is sportive enough to believe that the labelling has worked for her. While director Shyamaprasad’s Ritu got her noticed, it was her powerful performances in Aashiq Abu’s 22 Female Kottayam and Siddharth Bharatan’s Nidra that made her a name to reckon with in Mollywood. The young actor, who recently got married to Aashiq, will once again be seen in a starring role s once again starring in the lead in Escape From Uganda, directed by Rajesh Nair, which releases today. In the film, Rima plays a young mother who gets trapped in a rather strange situation in the East African country. In an interview, she talks about the film, her rollercoaster ride on screen and more. Excerpts…

Tell us a bit about your character in Escape from Uganda

I play Shikha Samuel who lands up in Uganda following her marriage. She has big plans to start a new life there. But things go haywire when she unwittingly gets caught in a situation, which leads to her being jailed in one of Uganda’s notorious prisons for no fault of hers. The film narrates how she and her family manage to escape from it all.

What was it like shooting the film in Uganda?

I think it was the first time that a Malayalam film was being shot in Africa. It was more of an experience for the people over there than it was for all of us! We were shocked to find that there is not much of a cinema tradition in Uganda. As I understand, it’s still in its nascent stage. Many people were quite flabbergasted with all the cameras, lights and equipment. On a personal note, what excited me was the beautiful topography of the country and also the experience of performing with a few local actors, some of who have already worked in some Hollywood productions. It gave a different kind of exposure to the process of filmmaking.

Most of your recent films have not done very well in theatres. Do you think that you have erred in your selection of roles?

Not really. I am totally fine with what I have been doing, be it recent releases such as August Club or Zachariyayude Garbhinikal. In fact, I have said no to some big commercial projects because they just didn’t work for me. I don’t regret those decisions at all. I am in no hurry and I am ready to wait for the good roles. I would rather continue with the kind of cinema that I am doing right now and would love do a film such as Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal [directed by Lal Jose] when it comes my way.

You were variously labelled as bold, modern and glamorous, especially at the beginning of your career. How did the tags work for you?

It worked for me really well I think, because I have the kind of body language that is not very common among Malayalam actresses. For instance, I have been told that most actors wouldn’t have agreed to a role of the other woman like the one I did in Happy Husbands. But then I feel that characters such as Tessa in 22 Female Kottayam come to me because they require the kind of boldness, which the industry perceives I have.

What do you think is the best thing about yourself as an actor?

I don’t go into a role with pre-conceived notions. While approaching a character I try to visualise it based on what my writers and directors want from me. I am ready to learn and unlearn, which has helped me a lot.

Do you feel that you are not getting your due as an actor even after some noteworthy performances?

Yes, that is true. Why the films fail at the box office might be due to various reasons. And it genuinely breaks my heart when they do. But I know that it is part and parcel of this profession, as there is a business angle to cinema as well. Being an actor is definitely a struggle but I am enjoying this process and I think it is just beautiful.

You have made it clear about your decision to continue acting even after marriage. Was it a tough decision to make?

Not at all. I don’t know if it is going to be a tough decision for people to cast me in their films, though! (laughs).