"Who says our lives are glamorous?"

It’s with a fair bit of warning that I prepare to interview Tamannaah. She, I’m told by fellow journalists, is a crafty interviewee, who answers questions with great diplomacy. I ask her if she’s aware of this charge. “You tell me once we’re done,” she says, with a giggle that promises a fun session. Excerpts from an interview:

In Tamil cinema, you have the reputation of having the best lip sync for a north Indian actress. While preparing for the interview, I also noticed in several videos that you speak fluent Telugu.

I was offered dialogue-oriented roles from the beginning of my career. No matter how much I learned the lines by heart, I realised it was going to be tough to enunciate correctly. I realised it would be easier to just learn both the languages. I can now speak both Tamil and Telugu. I guess it helped that I started early, because it was easier to pick it up. But it’s not something I can do any more.

You’ve completed 10 years in cinema. How have you changed in this period?

I was offered my first film right after my 10th board exams. Back then, I didn’t even know they made films in the South. Films, I thought, were either in Hindi or English. (Laughs) Acting began as a casual thing, but along the way, I did films like Happy Days, 100% Love and Baahubali that made me fall in love with cinema. I can’t imagine being in any other profession.

Are you disappointed that you haven’t done as well in Hindi as you have in the South?

Not really. It’s all a cycle — you have your share of ups and downs. I did feel bad when Himmatwala and Humshakals didn’t work, but I have moved on. If you’re just talking about hits, then I did dub for myself in the Hindi version of Baahubali. So, for the record, I do have a blockbuster in Hindi.

As far as the industries go, in the North, they think I’m a South Indian actress; down South, I’ve always been thought of as a Bombay girl. I guess it’s sort of an identity crisis, even though I’d like to belong to all the industries.

You recently promoted the IIFA South Awards 2015. Considering you’ve also been a part of award functions in the north, do you feel they are quite different from each other?

In Bollywood, they go all out with award functions. The biggest stars host them and the functions are grand affairs. At these functions, one gets to meet everyone from the industry. I love performing on stage at these functions, even though there is a risk that I may end up making a fool out of myself. The rehearsals and the jitters before going on stage make me feel like a 10-year-old again. Instead of classmates and teachers, I now perform in front of actors and directors. (Laughs) Back then, school students were my audience; now the whole world is.

You don’t seem to be signing as many films, these days.

You feel that because of the long durations of my films. I’m working on several bilinguals; so, it takes longer than your usual film. I am working on films like Baahubali, whose every frame is born out of a love for cinema. My next, Thozha (Oopiri in Telugu), with Nagarjuna and Karthi, is one such film. Even within commercial cinema, I’m trying to play as many different characters as I can.

Despite being in the industry for a decade now, you’re just 25. Do you feel you’ve missed out on a lot because you started so early?

People assume that the life of a heroine is very glamorous. But there’s a lot we miss out on, including privacy, food, and time spent with the family. But I know these are things that come with being in this profession. I haven’t experienced life in a college; so, maybe I don’t even know what I’m missing out on. When I see other people of my age, I envy them sometimes. But there are things I have that they want too. For one, I’m quite settled and in control of my life.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 6:14:32 PM |

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