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Second time also lucky

Saritha is making waves on the small screen too...

Small screen, big impact Saritha

She was veteran director K. Balachander's find. That itself says a lot about actress Saritha's calibre. After dozens of films in which she walked away with meaty roles between 1979 and 1989, she took a sabbatical of sorts. Marriage and children happened, but she did stay in touch with tinseldom with occasional offers. But now, it looks like Saritha is serious about a fresh innings in her career. Only, this time, she reinvents herself for the small screen.

"Oh, I enjoy playing the role of Thamarai in the serial `Selvi.' It's a family drama that has got good reception from the audience. The vibes on the sets are good and it's nice to get favourable feedback from an accomplished performer like Radhika Sarathkumar, who plays the lead role."

She goes on, "But what I need to get used to is the fact that for a serial a target is set and shooting is done in a frenzy. That puts a little pressure, because, you don't even have time for a touch-up."

Enjoyable experience

Going back to her last big screen rendezvous, "Julie Ganapathy," directed by Balu Mahendra and in which she plays a character who is obsessed with a writer, she says, "It was an enjoyable experience. The film was good and my performance was appreciated too. I missed "Sadma" (Moondram Pirai in Tamil) and regret it to this day. I like Mahendra for his photography and spontaneous dialogue. But the most attractive feature of `Julie Ganapathy' was the fact that I didn't have to wear make-up."

As for her long association with Balachander, she says, "I've worked in 23 films of his — each was a milestone. Starting with `Maro Charithra', `Agni Satchi', `Kalyana Agathigal', and `Achamillai Achamillai', were all memorable films. KB is like a godfather. I grew up under his banner. I didn't know anything about acting, it was he who taught me the nuances."

Slipping into reminiscent mode, she continues, "I was the 162nd girl he had auditioned for a film. I did not even look nice in the black-and-white pictures that were sent to him. But I was informed that I had done well in the interview."

Remembering the first day of the shoot, Saritha says, "It was a harrowing experience. I kept on giggling. In fact, they even wanted to pack me off. But later, I was briefed about my role, and promised chocolates. Luckily, I performed well and earned my chocolates too."

It was post-marriage that Saritha decided to take a break. Two sons meant a big investment of time, so she couldn't continue with acting. That's when she turned to dubbing. "I love it," gushes the artiste, whose career is marked by 140 films by veterans, including Balachander, Singeethan Srinivasa Rao, Bharathan, Joshi and Balu Mahendra.

And how does she feel as an actress today? "I'm learning with every assignment. Television is a different experience. I even watch `bad' films to find out why they didn't go well with the audience. Looking back, I'm very happy and thankful to the directors to have come up with scripts that were performance-oriented. Nowadays, heroes dominate films. Perhaps, if I looked glamorous, directors would have concentrated on my looks than on my performance," smiles the actress to whom her complexion and figure are hardly an issue.

Is direction on the cards? "I don't know," replies the actress, whose world revolves around her sons. "I plan my schedules in sync with theirs. And since they want me to act, it makes things easier for me."


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