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On a roll

Actor Gopika has landed quite a few plum roles after the huge success of `4 The People' and `Autograph'.

SHE CAME into the limelight with the film, `4 The People'. Directed by the National Award-winner, Jayaraj, the hit film sparked off a trend of similar campus flicks.

She surfaced again in director Cheran's Tamil hit, `Autograph'. Her role as a Malayali college student in the film made everyone sit up and take notice of this young beauty. Girly Anto, aka Gopika, has now crossed over to the Telegu film industry where she's acting opposite Srikanth in `Lethamanasulu'. The film is a remake of the Tamil hit, `Azhagi'. The Telegu remake of `Autograph' is yet another project under her belt. She plays the lead opposite Ravi Teja in this Gopal Reddy film.

Like most wannabe actors these days, Gopika too came into films through modelling. A Plus Two student at St. Raphel's, Ollur, she was adjudged Miss College during the farewell celebrations. She was also the first runner up at the Miss Thrissur beauty pageant. A couple of modelling assignments later, her photographs in a magazine met with photographer Taha's approval and he proved instrumental in giving her career on celluloid a fillip.

Director Tulasidas then cast her in his film, `Pranayamanithooval', and decided to rename Girly as Gopika. Once the ball got rolling, she followed up `Pranayamanithooval' with a Kannada film, `Kanasina Loka', opposite Vasu. But it was her third film, `4 The People', that turned her life around and the rest, as they say, is history.

But did Gopika plan on a career in films? "My ambition was to become an air hostess," she says.

Now that she is going places, what does she think about her work and the industry? "I enjoy my work and feel I could not have done anything else. My parents were initially apprehensive, what with the reputation the industry has. But things are not as bad here as people think."

And, as Gopika says, films are not an exercise in frivolity. "Films are a way of life for many people. The industry employs thousands of people and I feel proud to be part of it."

This final year degree student of Sociology at Calicut University is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame. "Almost everyone in South India knows me. It feels nice," says a cheerful Gopika.

On location experiences are fun, she says. The schedules do not bother her as, except for the shooting of `Autograph' in Kulu Manali, she has rarely been away from home for long. "Kulu Manali was cold even in April. The shooting would begin at 8 a.m. and go on till 11 p.m. at night. Dressed in a crepe sari, I almost froze to death," she recalls.

Her ambition is to do roles that do not require her to expose at the drop of a hat. She doesn't mind paying the village belle even. "I come from an orthodox family and don't want to give them a reason to be unhappy with me."

Post `4 the People', the actress has disappeared from the Malayalam film industry. Quiz her about it and she says it is not deliberate. "Roles coming my way are not good enough. If there is something that really interests me, I will surely take it up."

While Gopika was just another actress hoping to make it big some time ago, she is visibly confident after the success of her films. She is comfortable in all the four South Indian languages. "In Malayalam, I dub for the dialogues myself. I also dubbed for `Autograph'. I am dubbing for its Telegu remake too."

The shooting of `Lethamanasulu' is over and Gopika is all set to act in her next Tamil film, this time opposite Chimpu. With some big projects lined up, Gopika is clearly having a ball.


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