Interview Movies

For a spot of spontaneity

Sandhya Raju  

Kuchipudi dancer Sandhya Raju is familiar with cinema, though she admits she has never been a compulsive moviegoer. She has worked with directors Tharun Bhascker, Jay and Revanth Korukonda in their respective short films. Last year, her film Natyam directed by Revanth saw her as a housewife wanting to rediscover her little joys, nurture a passion… in her case, dance. The film that released in time for International Dance Day was promoted on digital platforms and soon, she was spotted by Malayalam director V K Prakash.

“Today’s actors are doing multiple projects in south Indian film industries, so I wasn’t surprised that my first feature film opportunity came from Malayalam,” Sandhya tells us. Titled Careful, the film is an investigative thriller in which she essays the part of a journalist, Rachna Nambiar, on the lookout for a human interest story. “She learns of a road accident and digs deeper, only to be framed,” says Sandhya.

The plotline strikes a familiar note with the hit Kannada thriller U Turn. Sandhya won’t answer if this is a remake and maintains she cannot reveal further about the film. The process of shooting for her first feature film wasn’t new or intimidating, she says, since Sandhya has observed film units at work during her short films. The difference was in the sheer number of people on the sets. “There are so many more people on the sets and since a feature film has better budget and more experienced people, there is discipline and efficiency,” she says. Sandhya isn’t a trained actor and on the sets of Careful, she had to let go of her tendency to rehearse, “In dance, we rehearse until we get the perfect expression or pose. There’s a calculated approach to it that makes it mechanical. It works well for dance, but director Prakash made me understand that acting can do with some spontaneity. In fact, whenever I used to rehearse he’d tell me to do it spontaneously, imagining the situation at hand. He preferred the natural body language to show through, than a practised walk.”

Language wasn’t much of a barrier. Sandhya is well versed in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu and as she started learning Malayalam with the help of an assistant director, she felt there were similar words in the different languages.

As for straddling dance and acting, Sandya feels acting was a natural progression, “I was looking at opportunities to reach a wider audience. When we perform on stage in a capacious hall, around 1000 people watch us. I realised that when dance performance videos are uploaded on YouTube and other social media platforms, I reach a larger audience. Some of my videos have more than a couple of lakh views and students refer to the dances time and again. The number game is different in a digital medium and in a way, it helps in your work staying immortal.”

With grace

Travancore Sisters — Padmini, Lalitha and Ragini, Vyjayantimala, Hema Malini, Shobhana and Bhanupriya are among the most well-known actresses who had a strong foundation in classical dance.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 9:17:52 AM |

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