chat Genelia D'Souza talks about Arackal Ayesha, her character in “Urumi”, and life as an actor and model
I t would not be wrong to call Genelia D'Souza a Southern Star. The Mumbai-based actor's substantial fan following lies south of the Vindhyas where she has a string of hits to her credit, especially in Telugu and Tamil. And now she is aiming at expanding her fan following with Santosh Sivan's “Urumi ”, her first Malayalam film, where she plays warrior princess Arackal Ayesha.
All for the challenge
“I never thought I would be able to do a role like that. But Santosh gave me a character that was nothing like what I've done before. He threw me a challenge and I took it up,” says the actor, who is now shooting for “Velayudam” with Vijay.
To enact a martial arts expert, Genelia had to undergo two weeks of hard training to learn to use the sword, the short stick, and other movements of Kalaripayattu. She also learnt horse riding.
Ms. Sunshine became the heartthrob of many as Harini in “Boys”. But Genelia warns her fans that Ayesha is not Harini or Aditi (her character in “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na”. “Ayesha is so not Genelia. She does not smile at all in the film. She is determined and dedicated to her cause. There is so much of hurt and anger in her, and those changes in her mood were a challenge to portray. I have done several action sequences and did all my stunts myself,” says Genelia.
What was difficult, she admits, was speaking the old Malayalam that is used in the movie. She is thankful to Shankar Ramakrishnan, who has scripted the film, for his moral support and help in delivering her lines. Prithviraj, her co-star in the film, too, was helpful and so “non-starry”, she says.
“Many of the cast and crew of ‘Urumi' were amazed when I was cast as the princess in the period film. But once the cameras started rolling, they agreed that the director's decision was right.”
The management student and top model, with a clutch of brands to her credit, says that her management studies and work in modelling did ease her move to the big screen. Although her road to Bollywood was pretty smooth, it has been a bumpy ride with only “Jaane Tu…” to highlight as a hit. None of her other films in Hindi (“Chance Pe Dance”, “Life Partner”…) clicked at the box office.
“You don't work for a hit alone. Your satisfaction as an actor is important too. Moreover, I have never been an add-on in any film of mine. I do a film only if there is space for me. It can be a song and dance film, a serious one or a rom-com, but I must have a substantial role. And I don't think I have repeated my characters. That is the only reason my fans keep coming back to see me in a film,” she argues.
But somewhere along the line, Genelia seems to have realised that it would be difficult to do justice to her roles if there were too many characters on her acting palette. “Instead of doing several films at the same time, I have decided to do one each in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. That way, I can give my best to each film. I am doing ‘Force' with John Abraham, which is the remake of Gautam Menon's ‘Khakha Khakha' and an untitled Telugu film with Rana Daggubatti,” she explains.
And would she be willing to act in another Malayalam film? “Yes, if the role is challenging enough.”
I never thought I would be able to do a role like that of Arackal Ayesha. But, Santosh threw me a challenge and I took it up