cinemaNewcomer Karthika talks about her dream debut in tinsel town
Two back-to-back hits in two languages, and one in yet another language all set for release — no wonder Karthika is on cloud nine. Daughter of yesteryear star Radha, Karthika is on a roll with her sensational debut in Telugu (“Josh”) and Tamil (“Ko”). She makes her debut in Mollywood with Lenin Rajendran's film “Makaramanju”,which has her playing two roles — as Raja Ravi Varma's muse Sugandha Bai, and as the mythical Urvashi.
And, the tall, svelte 18-year-old can't stop talking about “Ko”. “It is still sinking in. The songs of both ‘Ko' and ‘Makaramanju' are topping the charts. Renuka Narayan, my character in ‘Ko', is a dream role for any newcomer. The film's director K.V. Anand told me I was as much the hero of the film as Jiiva. I enact a journalist and Jeeva a photo journalist. The entire shooting was a learning experience and the song sequences shot in Norway were simply magical,” says Karthika.
On Radha's request, Bharatiraja, her mentor, went to a theatre to watch “Ko”. Later, he invited them home and congratulated Radha on her daughter's commendable work. “It's a moment I treasure,” says Karthika.
Although she is no stranger to glitz and glamour with both her mother and aunt Ambika having made a mark in tinsel world, Karthika says she was taken aback when director Vasu Varma approached her to play the lead opposite Naga Chaitanya in “Josh.” “I am a nerd and my plan was to graduate in business management, and help manage my father's business empire. But then my mother said the offer was good as I would be working with many newcomers and a great banner like Sri Venkateshwara Creations,” says Karthika.
So the school topper and city-bred teenager from Mumbai found herself enacting Vidya, a bubbly village belle who yearns to study and go places. And what was her mother's advice on facing the camera? “She told me how not to act,” Karthika says with a laugh. “She is always there for me…. She helps me with my clothes, make-up, choose my characters… As a leading star of the Eighties, she knows her way around tinsel town. She told me that once I was on the sets, the director would call the shots; I would be the director's daughter till the day's work was over.” The advice certainly helped Karthika as both her releases raked in the moolah. But she says her toughest role is that of Sungandha Bai, Ravi Varma's muse.
What gave her the confidence to play the two women in “Makaramanju” was the presence of Lenin, veteran cinematographer Madhu Ambat and her co-star director-cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who dons the greasepaint to play Ravi Varma in the film. “It was such an experienced team that guided me through the film. Moreover, Lenin Sir had also directed my aunt Ambika in the film ‘Swati Thirunal.' It was a great honour to work with such veterans,” says the actor.
And was she nervous about acting with Santosh who has worked with the top heroines in India? “Initially, yes. But he has such a great sense of humour that till the camera started rolling, we would all be laughing at his jokes and antics. He would regale us with stories all the time,” says Karthika with a big smile.
And what next? “I have just finished my exams for this semester. So, I go back to college. I am in no hurry to take up another role,” she asserts.