Cinema

Say hello to Samantha

Samantha  

She got the debut most budding actresses spend their nights fantasising about — a Gautham Menon film that catapulted her into the limelight and fetched her an award for Best Female Debut – South. The Telugu film, Ye Maaya Chesave (2010), was simultaneously shot in Tamil as Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, where Samantha had a cameo role. “I could not have asked for a better launch,” she says. “All that I am today, I owe to him.”

She talks of how Gautham played a crucial part in moulding her as an actress. “For instance, we are always taught to act in front of the camera. We are never told how important it is sometimes to do nothing and yet, appear natural,” she says. “I notice many actors who are uncomfortable doing nothing. Gautham taught me to be comfortable even if I didn’t have a single line in a long scene.”

After Gautham’s Neethaane En Ponvasantham (2012), Samantha has been on a sabbatical from Kollywood. She now returns with two potential blockbusters — Lingusamy’s Anjaan, opposite Suriya, and Murugadoss’ Kaththi, opposite Vijay. “I’m not sure why, but Neethane En Ponvasantham didn’t quite become the commercial success we believed it would. I learnt a lot from it though, and I have no regrets about having been a part of it,” she says. Despite signing two of the most hyped films of this year, she remains cautious. “I know many actresses who started big but were sent packing as they couldn’t sustain the momentum. I am in this for the long haul,” she says emphatically.

We talk of her upcoming films, where her roles are as different as the dynamics of the Tamil film industry will allow. “I have always wanted to work with Lingusamy, as he is a master of commercial cinema,” she says.

“I have always admired his etching of female characters. Meera Jasmine’s role in Sandakozhi (2005) is an example of the sassiness his heroines come with.”

Director Murugadoss, according to Samantha, is a powerhouse of cinema knowledge. “He is just so good at what he does, and knows exactly what he wants out of each artiste,” she says. “I have great faith in Kaththi, and you will see why.” She also finds that it’s easier to work with top heroes such as Suriya and Vijay, as “they are chilled out and comfortable to work with. It comes with experience, I guess.”

She might have top films in the pipeline, but does her acting potential get much play in south Indian cinema? “Honestly, not much at all,” she admits. “People often ask me why I don’t take up more heroine-oriented roles. My question is, ‘Where are these roles?’ I really appreciate actresses who sign only films with meaty roles. However, there aren’t too many of them. The industry is simply male-dominated.”

Does she believe films are in some way a reflection of reality? She laughs a bit, and takes time to think about her response. “Not really,” she says, guarded as always. “I have friends who yearn for a film like Queen (2014) to be made here.”

This ordinary Chennai girl, who did her schooling in Holy Angels Higher Secondary School and graduated from Stella Maris College, today commands a fan following that easily crosses one crore. Her official Facebook page, for instance, has around 58 lakh ‘likes’. Fame in such a short span must be daunting to handle. “Thankfully, I have friends who do not allow me to get carried away,” she says. “As for my Facebook page, believe me when I say that I scan such pages looking for criticism in order to better myself. I must tell you I receive plenty of it.” Clearly, Samantha isn’t satisfied… not yet. She wants to be challenged, with roles that will test her mettle.

And will she head North like most established south Indian actresses? “Not really,” she says, pointing out that most actors who have headed North are those who belong there. “The incentive is more for them than for a person like me who belongs here.” However, she says a special role could well lure her to Bollywood.

For now, she attributes at least part of her success to her southern belle looks. “I think people are able to relate to my appearance. They think of me as the girl next door.”

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 10:33:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/say-hello-to-samantha/article6203915.ece

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