Talking movies with Prasanna and Sneha

A flight of colourful birds takes off from the wall, cheerful cushions on the sofas add a dash of spring, and then, Sneha’s famous smile lights up the room. Husband Prasanna is just back from an audio launch and she’s giving last-minute instructions to the lady handling their year-old son, Vihaan.

Until three months ago, Sneha was a hands-on mom, who’d gladly swapped the arc lights for living life on her terms. Now, she’s signed up for two movies — a Mohan Raja film and Haneef’s The Great Father with Mammootty in Malayalam.

A couple of years ago, Prasanna, a good performer known for giving a role his all, was unsure where his career was heading. He took a break — for a year and a half — worked on his body language and recouped, as Sneha hand-held him. Today, he’s working on four films — Nibunan, Thiruttu Payale 2, Thupparivaalan and Power Paandi — each one in a different genre.

Over to the couple, who started off on a wrong note before rediscovering friendship, laughter, romance and life. It began in 2006 with Sneha wanting to gift her sister a connoisseur’s collection of Ilaiyaraaja’s songs. Her PRO John told her about a young actor he represented who was deeply into the maestro’s melodies. She picked up the phone and expected to hear a voice that recognised who she was. What she got were monosyllabic replies in a distinctly unfriendly voice. Incidentally, as a student of engineering, Prasanna loved two songs Sneha had featured in: ‘Pallankuzhiyin’ and ‘Sollathaan Ninaikiraen’.

Two years later, she got to work with him in the evocative Achchamundu! Achchamundu!, and discovered there lurked a friend behind that shy exterior. “Even today, Prasanna and I wonder how far we’ve come,” she says.

Eventually, sparks flew between the boy from Tiruchi and the actress, who was raised in Dubai and had worked in all the South Indian industries. “I still ask Suha {Sneha’s real name is Suhasini} what she saw in me — I was moody, under-confident and forever looking for ways to remain unnoticed,” smiles Prasanna.

Today, the actors say they’ve brought out the best in each other. “I took the break following Sneha’s advice. She felt I needed to recharge myself. And, she supported me, even financially, without a thought. I’m a better actor and person because of her. I’ve learnt to shed my hesitation,” says Prasanna.

And, though he insisted she never give up acting, Sneha felt otherwise.

“I’ve worked day and night. In 2003, I think I did about 13 films. I reduced my workload because I felt I was going through a burnout. I wanted to sit on the sidelines and experience life. I took up these two projects because the scripts were excellent, and I wanted to see if I could handle work and my son.”

Both Sneha and Prasanna are not new to dejection and disappointment. Many a time, their performances hit the high notes in films that fizzled. “I won’t say we were not frustrated, but we kept at it,” says Prasanna, who calls Sneha his fiercest supporter and critic. “She just knows what works and what does not, and after some misfires, I’ve learnt to trust her judgement,” he says. So, how does she rate Prasanna as an actor? “I think like a critic. He might be good, but the movie should be too. I sometimes tell him to his face that a film will not work,” she says. Agrees Prasanna, “Any day, she’s a far more mature actor than I am. And her choices are better. If something excites her, I know it will work.”

Sneha loves saying it as it is, be it films or the gender inequity in the industry. “Questions are asked once you get married, pregnant, have a baby. Here, it is a simple case of ‘she’s married, give her the hero’s mother’s role’. Why will I agree to such a compromise when I am doing limited work? In both the films I’m working in, I play a mother, but it’s incidental, not intentional.”

Sneha’s not particularly fond of the term comeback too. “I’ve done some movies for the heck of it. But, when I stepped back, I was sure about what I wanted. I’ve never played the numbers game, and am not about to start now. I never was away. Of course, now that people know I’ve started working, I’m flooded with work, but I pick and choose,” she says.

That’s something Prasanna had always done. “It’s frustrating to not contribute to the family, but I went deaf, turned blind to all that was being said. It helped me focus just on the task at hand. The end result was worth it.”

But, what the actor is happiest about is that he’s grown into someone he likes. “When you’re looking good, and your body is looking good, it gives you a high.”

Sneha’s joy comes from the fact that from someone who never lifted a finger at home, she has learnt to take charge.

On the work front, the actor-couple announced its maiden production in 2014, but shelved it when they realised another film was being made on a similar subject. “Ironically, that film is yet to release. But, someday, we will get into production,” says Prasanna.

Among Sneha’s unfulfilled desires is playing a negative role. “I’ve always been a good girl, and it’s time to showcase a new me,” she says.

Both actors have their favourites among directors. If Prasanna deeply respects Mysskin and Arun Vaidyanathan, Sneha is fond of Cheran and Karu Palaniappan. “Karu gave me two of my best films — Parthiban Kanavu and Pirivom Sandhippom. Did you know he signed me up for Parthiban… a week after I met with an accident and people were convinced I would have difficulty even walking? I love his faith.”

And, when they are free, the actors hang out with their friends, drawn from all fields — “regular people who live regular lives”. “It’s nice to discuss things other than cinema, and be appreciated for what you are,” she says.

Before we conclude, did she finally get the CD of the maestro’s melodies? “I’m yet to see it,” she laughs.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 3:17:38 PM |

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