Cinema

“Puli mustn’t be compared with Baahubali”

A file photo of actress Hansika Motwani. Photo: Special Arrangement  

For somebody so young (she’s just 24), Hansika is startlingly diplomatic. She knows exactly what to say, how to glide gracefully past questions that could land her in controversy. She begins by saying Puli is a once-in-a-lifetime project for her. “At my age, a film of this scale is a rare opportunity. Everything about the film — from the background artistes to the VFX — is on a different level. It’s a big budget film, and nothing like the Tamil industry has ever seen.” I ask her if she would call Puli the biggest film of her career. She refuses to bite. “Is it all right if I don’t rank the film like that?” she asks. That’s her, gracefully gliding away. She won’t say it, but she knows that if she had said yes, some director or actor somewhere would have perceived it as an insult. And in an industry of fickle egos, it’s perhaps this caution that has resulted in her successful pairing with everybody from Vijay to Dhanush to Suriya.

This caution has also stood her in good stead on Twitter where she has a whopping 1.6 million followers. “I have to charge my phone six times every day, to manage all the notifications.” There have also been fan groups trying to get her into trouble, but she doesn’t take sides, and uses the micro blogging site only to interact with friends and promote her films. “It’s every actor’s responsibility to promote their films aggressively,” she says, and begins to do exactly that. “I play a princess in Puli. The director did a lot of research about my character.” Hansika, however, didn’t, as she believes that too much homework results in the portrayal becoming mechanical.

(A still from Puli)

Contrary to her original assumptions, it wasn’t easy playing a princess, . “I’m like a princess at home… with my mum and brother. That’s easy. But here, I had to maintain a certain posture and look assertive. In other commercial films, I am allowed to take liberties with my dialogue, but in Puli, I couldn’t.” And it didn’t help that the dialogues were all in “ shudhdh Tamil” as she puts it. But Vijay, her Velayudham costar, helped a lot.

There were other benefits to doing Puli, like acting alongside Sridevi. “We bonded a lot. Both of us are Leos; so that helped. I may not have seen all her old films, but I realised I was in the presence of a legend. She helped me tackle a lot of difficult scenes.” Like the one in which Hansika had to pretend she was in the presence of a giant and act while looking at nothing in particular. “There are many such scenes. The whole film was a grand experience for me.” I ask her if the appreciation that Baahubali has received augurs well for Puli. Or is she worried that people may draw comparisons? “Well, most of Baahubali is fantasy, and so comparisons will be quite unfair. Puli is of a different genre, as you will see.”

Meanwhile, the perks of being an actress continue to surprise her. Last week, she went to Madurai for an event, and after its completion, the “ poojari” surprised her by saying that he wished he could have a sister like her. “He told me he was a big fan.” I tell her that the idea of a poojari telling her this is quite amusing. She laughs . “What’s wrong? It’s such compliments that make everything seem worth the effort.”

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 3:03:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/pulimustnt-be-compared-withbaahubali/article7692582.ece

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