Simran was bombarded with messages on the day the first look of Petta , featuring her and Rajinikanth, was out. “You look like you were never away from the movies,” someone commented.
“It is a real comeback, isn’t it?” smiles Simran, as we settle down for a chat at a dance studio where she is rehearsing for a performance. The actor has been on the big screen in the last couple of years in a few films, but none that announced her arrival. Petta does that, and it’s no wonder that she describes it a ‘comeback’.
Excerpts from an interview:
The way you look in Petta has been appreciated a lotby fans. What’s the secret?
I feel that being fit is the best gift you can give yourself. I look this way because of a mix of diet, yoga and fitness. Maybe it’s also the aura of working with Rajinikanth sir. (smiles).
You were away from films for a while, and suddenly, you’re Rajinikanth’s heroine. How did that happen?
Petta brought me back on track. I’m grateful to director Karthik Subbaraj, Rajini sir and the producers for that. My career was here and there over the past few years. There were so many responsibilities that I didn’t know what kind of films to take on.
But thankfully, there are many people out there who are watching me and what I do and want me to take on great roles.
What was the main factor for you to pick Petta?
It’s a huge package. I couldn’t even think of letting it go. Karthik Subbaraj is among the younger generation directors that I follow; he has done films in a variety of genres. He’s very clear about what he wants from an actor.
It isn’t easy; he is such a huge fan of Rajini sir, but still managed to conduct the director-actor relationship seamlessly on sets.
Describe your first moment shooting with the Superstar.
I have been a Rajini fan for a long time; there have been times when I’ve tried walking like him and putting on my glasses like him! I thought I’d forget my dialogues because I was star-stuck on the first day. But he ensured that everything was calm on sets and kept telling us that what we’re doing is to entertain people.
A lot of people do not know you were the original choice for Rajinikanth’s Chandramukhi, a role that later went to Jyotika. Why did you miss the Rajini moment back then?
I do rue missing that film, but it has a beautiful reason behind it. I shot for three days for Chandramukhi, and discovered on the fourth day that I was pregnant with my first baby. That was a beautiful reason for me to let go of that.
Looking back, I feel happy and content. I’ve done so much work in such a short span and left a mark on audiences’ minds. Now, whatever offers come my way, it has to be impactful. That’s all I tell filmmakers who come to me.
You left a big project like Chandramukhi since you were pregnant. Jyotika took a sabbatical from films after she was married. Do you think the women have it tough in the film industry while the men continue to be leading heroes?
I feel women are above men because they have so many things to balance. Ajith and Vijay are superstars now, and I’m happy about that, but they are also fathers now; they will surely know the part that their wives played in their progress. Cinema is my profession and I’m trying my best to balance that and my personal life.
Is it easier to do it now, thanks to the many opportunities that TV and online platforms offer an actor?
There are loads of opportunities now and there is a huge market for women-oriented subjects. I’m keeping my eyes out for such opportunities. But I feel that whatever I do, irrespective of the platform, has to be content-based. There is a certain amount of personal attention that actors have to give to their films. When you’re in films like Petta or Dhruva Natchathiram , you can just jump in because the creators are established and know what they’re doing. But if you’re taking a film completely on your shoulders, you need to give it your full concentration.
If you come across a 90s superhit of yours while flipping TV channels, what goes through your mind?
I don’t believe that I pulled off those performances! Back then, I was totally into the film industry and on the sets almost the entire day. I couldn’t even spend time or enjoy festivals with my family members and siblings. Today, if you were to ask me to do that, I’d say ‘no, I have to give time to my children’. So, if I were to take up a film now, I have to multi-task a lot and do a lot of planning.
Can you name three older films of yours that you revisit often?
Vaali , Priyamanavale and Kannathil Muthamittal . And my ‘Aal Thotta Boopathi’ song from Youth... I can watch that any time!