She is the best thing about Notebook. In a sea of new faces in Rosshan Andrrews' second film, Roma stands out in the lead role of Sarah Elizabeth.
She holds a lot of promise. In fact, very few actresses have made as good a debut in Malayalam cinema of late.
She says a lot of hard work, by herself and the director, has gone into bringing Sarah to life on screen. She had a task on her hand not just because she had no experience in acting; she did not know Malayalam.
"I am based in Chennai and my parents are from Delhi, so language was a problem," she says. "But we had a workshop before we began the film's shooting, which made things easier."
Her Malayalam has improved now, she says. "I can speak Malayalam a little bit now. And I do want to act more in Malayalam films, which I find more realistic than films in other Indian languages."
Roma is pleasantly surprised by the way the film industry and the audience have reacted to her performance in Notebook.
"I felt on top of the world when director Priyadarshan called me up to say that he liked my work in the film," she says. "He was surprised when I told him that Notebook was my first film. He said that I did not look like a fresher at all; that is a compliment I will cherish forever. Priyadarshan has always been a favourite director of mine and I have seen his film Garam Masala at least 10 times. Actress Bhavana also called me up recently to say that she enjoyed my work."
Roma, who is now preparing for her B.Com final year examinations, was selected for Sarah's role by Rosshan after seeing her photographs at the office of a model coordinator. "I began modelling three years ago and have done many television ads," she says.
And she had been longing to see her face on television ever since she was a kid. "I do not know what one needed to get into television, but I wanted to be there somehow," she laughs.
"I do enjoy modelling, but I am serious about acting," she says. "I do not want to accept all offers that come my way; I like to play roles which are substantial. And I want to complete my B.Com before I take up fresh assignments; I had to refuse a few offers, both in Malayalam and Tamil, because of my exams."
She knows the expectations about her will be high after Notebook. "I know it will be a tough act to follow. But I want to do more roles like that."