Chandra Lakshman enjoys experimenting with roles.

I was determined to prove that I could blend into any role. Chandra Lakshman

Becoming an actor was never on Chandra Lakshman's mind. She always imagined herself pursuing a career in hotel management. "I was doing my hotel management training when film director Santosh saw me and decided to cast me as actor Srikanth's sister in a Tamil movie `Manasellam," says Chandra. Her performance in the movie landed her a role opposite Prithviraj in the Malayalam movie `Stop Violence.' And there has been no looking back ever since; this 23-year-old was bitten by the acting bug. Although she had no experience in acting, that was not a stumbling block. "I guess I had that inborn instinct to act."It was however, the mini-screen that made her a household name. Her role in her debut soap `Swandam' on Asianet shot her into the limelight. At a time where goody-goody women ruled the screen with their tears, her character Sandra Nellikadan came as a breath of fresh air for many.

Negative roles

"Sandra introduced the dark side of women. She was spoilt, haughty, had a mean temper and would seek revenge on those who dared cross her path. In fact, most people call me Sandra as they have identified me with the role," says Chandra, who went on to play a multi-dimensional character in `Megham,' a homely character in `Devi' and a villainous character who repents in `Stree.' Currently playing a mother of a one-year-old in Doordarshan's `Jwalayayi' and that of an egoist who is after money in the Tamil serial on Sun TV, `Kolangal,' Chandra says she enjoys doing villainous roles. "Playing a girl-next-door is easy. Handling a negative role is challenging as you have to get the audience to empathise with you." Chandra is, however, cautious about being stereotyped in such roles. She admits that after `Swandam,' many similar roles came her way. "The producers were reluctant to cast me as an ordinary girl. When the character of Rini Chandrasekhar (`Megham') was offered, I grabbed it. I was determined to prove that I could blend into any role." According to Chandra, she tries as far as possible to play a variety of characters. "I look for roles viewers will remember." Born to a Tamil Brahmin family, Chandra did her schooling and graduation in Chennai. A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, Chandra says she rarely has the time to do the things she loves like spending time with her family or watch television. This actor who has acted in movies such as `Chakram,' `Kalyana Kurimanam,' and `Balram vs. Taradas' is now busy with Mohan Kupleri's `Paayum Puli.' "I play a girl who is like a sister to Kalabhavan Mani" says Chandra whose dream role is to play a beggar.The actor is also looking forward to her role in an up-and-coming project, `Trikarthika' in which she plays an 18-year-old. "I play a teenager in this serial. It is a welcome change as I have been donning older roles in the last few serials.'