Cinema

Diva and loving it

Daring to be different Actor and dancer Sudha Chandran. Photo: S. Gopakumar

Daring to be different Actor and dancer Sudha Chandran. Photo: S. Gopakumar   | Photo Credit: S_GOPAKUMAR

It's with no small trepidation that one meets Sudha Chandran; after all she was the original diva of the small screen – the stuff of many a soap nightmare too – courtesy of her role as the devious Ramola Sikand in Star Plus' ‘Kaahin Kissii Roz.'

Thankfully, Sudha is nothing like her infamous alter ego, except perhaps for her over-the-top dressing (read glitzy sari, dangling earrings, heavily khol-rimmed eyes and a humungous bindi) that has become her signature style. Besides, you would never catch Ramola gushing over her “favourite” puttu-kadala! “That's the true blue Malayali in me,” says Sudha, a native of Irinjalakuda who was born and bought up in Mumbai.

The actor-dancer was in Thiruvanathapuram recently for the shoot of Amrita TV's dance reality show ‘Super Dancer Junior-2,' for which Sudha and veteran choreographer Kala Master are the permanent jury members.

It was her love for and knowledge of dance that made Sudha sign up for the show. Yet she is mindful that being a judge on a reality show, especially one for children, means treading the fine line between criticism and empathy.

“It's so very hard because the level of talent these days is by no means mediocre. Although, the general format of a reality show requires judges to dish out the nastiest criticisms possible, we are only human, after all. Sometimes emotions get the better of us and you just can't help but get attached. You've then got to be inventive and mask criticism in sympathy or gentle chiding,” says Sudha, who began learning and performing Bharatanatyam at a very young age.

Moreover, Sudha has been a real-life inspiration for many what with her fortitude to continue dancing despite having to amputate her right leg following an accident. That makes her one of the success stories of the Jaipur foot – not that you would notice it had you not been aware beforehand.

She credits her parents, Chandran and Thangam, for “making her dreams happen and never pushing too far,” unlike some parents these days who live out their ambitions through their children. “Often when parents come to register their children at my dance school in Mumbai [Sudha Chandran Academy of Dance] the first question they ask is ‘Can you get my son/daughter on a reality show?' And that's even before I get a chance to see the kid dance. I mean, how obtuse is that!” exclaims Sudha. “They don't stop to question what's going to happen to the kids once the glory days are done with…and they will fade, for such is the irony of reality TV,” she says.

Lessons in life

Perhaps the reality stars, young and old, can take a lesson or two from Sudha who is adept at re-inventing herself with varied roles in several languages. “Ekta Kapoor, the producer of ‘Kaahin...,' once told me that you've got to keep breaking the mould to keep yourself in the game. Hence, I dare to do something different. For instance, after years of essaying flamboyantly dressed negative roles, I took on one of a demure singer in Zee TV's ‘Sanjog Se Bani Sangini.' Then again it's your work that speaks for itself,” muses Sudha, who also came back to Mollywood recently in ‘Alexander the Great' after starring in ‘Kalam Mari Katha Mari' (1987).

Sudha, though, has in the recent years been a familiar face on the small screen in the south with roles in the serials ‘Kathaparayum Kavyanjali' (Malayalam), ‘Kalasam' (Tamil) and so on. The actor-dancer, who has now shifted base to Chennai, will be soon seen in the Tamil film ‘Aadhi Bhagavan.'

“I would love to act in more Malayalam films. I am such a big fan of Malayalam cinema and love watching Lalettan [Mohanlal] and Mammookka [Mammooty], and Jayaram too – whom I think is the perfect neighbourhood guy, the Jaya Baduri of Mollywood, if I may say so,” says Sudha as she signs off to resume her puttu-kadala breakfast.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 9:19:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Diva-and-loving-it/article15901524.ece

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