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LUCKY BREAK: Shwetha has been cast in K.P. Kumaran's `Akashagopuram' and P. T. Kunjumohammed's `Paradesi.'  


Shwetha Menon wants to strike a balance between Hindi and Malayalam films.

Malayalam cinema is slowly opening up to new topics and contemporary ideas. SHWETHA MENON

After proving her mettle in fashion shows, ad campaigns and item numbers, Shwetha Menon is making her mark in Malayalam cinema. `Tantra,' directed by K.J. Bose, has this glamour girl playing the lead. Shwetha is also being cast in K.P. Kumaran's `Akashagopuram' and P. T. Kunjumohammed's `Paradesi.'"I was looking for a good break in Malayalam when A.K. Sajan approached me to do `Theneecha' with Suresh Gopi. For some reasons it did not work out, so I grabbed the next interesting project, which came my way. In `Tantra,' I play a model from Bombay who along with her fiancé, comes to Kerala for a television assignment."

Myth, magic and mystery

The role came with a set of challenges, says a contended Shwetha, who has successfully portrayed the woman caught in the myth, magic and mystery of `Tantra.'"The filmmakers were looking for somebody of Shobana's stature, as the song sequences had a bit of Bharatanatyam and yoga. Though I had no clue about yoga, I managed to do the poses, thanks to the choreographer and my co-stars." Shwetha Menon, from Malabar, made her debut in Malayalam with Jomon's `Anaswaram.' She acted in `Nakshatrakoodaram,' `Welcome to Kodaikanal' and `Koushalam,' before she left for Mumbai."I left Kozhikode in 1994, to groom myself for international competitions, after I was selected Miss India Asia Pacific. Since I had my modelling career to mould, films took a back seat."Shwetha's re-launch into films happened with a peppy item in `Ishq,' with Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgan."Indra Kumar, director of `Ishq,' approached me after he saw my photographs in a magazine. I was little unsure because the choreography was set for Madhuri Dixit, who had initially agreed to do the song. But Indra and Saroj Khan, the choreographer, instantly made changes in the sequences to make me comfortable. And `Humko Tumse Pyar Hein' went on to become a super hit of the season.'' There was no looking back for Shwetha since then. She worked with directors like Madhur Bhandarkar, Mahesh Manjrekar and Santosh Sivan."I was lucky to get a variety of roles in Hindi. In Hindi, you don't have this typecast mould for artistes, and unlike in the South, doing off-beat roles or item numbers does not affect your career graph."

Second round

Shwetha, all set for her second round in Malayalam, wonders at the pace at which the industry has changed. "Although still rooted in emotional dramas, Malayalam is slowly opening up to new topics and contemporary ideas. I was surprised at the response to the dance number I did in Priyadarshan's `Kakkakuyil.' I think Kerala is slowly shedding its inhibitions about glamour."Shwetha, who now plans to concentrate on performance-oriented roles, wants to strike a balance between her works in Hindi and Malayalam."I am quite nervous about being cast opposite Mohanlal in two films - `Akashagopuram' and `Paradesi.' Although I have worked with him in stage shows, being on screen with him would be a challenging experience. Other than this, I am working on Arshad Warsi's `Kisse Pyar Karon,' which is a comic role, a special appearance each in Madhur Bhandarkar's `Corporate' and an untitled Sanjay Dutt starrer."