Into the light

HESITANT FORAY Pavitra Lokesh: `The only reason to take the plunge were my circumstances'

HESITANT FORAY Pavitra Lokesh: `The only reason to take the plunge were my circumstances'   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.


Her father Mysore Lokesh's death was a turning point in Pavitra's life. However, everything turned out right for this reluctant artiste who bagged the Best Actress award for Naayi Neralu.

The film industry has always had a penchant for stories that are male-oriented. The woman, a mere object of glamour, is no more than a commodity. As a result, the Kannada actress, who refuses to believe glamour as be the all and end all, suffers discrimination. However, true blue Kannada actresses soldier on tenaciously struggling for an identity. We have seen this happening in the past, and the latest to join this minority bloc is Pavitra Lokesh and she has bagged the Best Actress award for her performance in Naayi Neralu. Pavitra's house was choc-a-block with bouquets, congratulatory notes and cards. Her mother and brother were beaming with happiness. Pavitra of course looked cheery. "When Girish Kasaravalli offered me the role I was much happier than when I got the award itself," she says. "I hadn't even imagined that I would join films," she recalls. Her father Mysore Lokesh was a famous Kannada actor. Despite their house thronging with friends and people from the industry, Pavitra always remained an aloof, shy and timid girl. But her father's unanticipated demise when she was in the ninth standard did bring about a major transformation."I secured 80 per cent in SSLC. I had other aspirations. But the one constant then was to help my mother who was overburdened with family responsibilities." Kannada actor Ambarish, who was a close friend of her father's, frequented their home. On one occasion he asked her to act in the film Mr. Abhishek, in which he was playing the lead. And rather unwillingly, Pavitra consented. In 1995, she acted in two films, Mr. Abhishek and Bangarada Kalasa. The two films however, didn't give her a breakthrough, and she completed her graduation and took upa job in a HR company. Then came Nagabharana's Janumada Jodi, which went on to become a blockbuster. "I never felt comfortable. I felt lonely. But when Nagabharana insisted, I had to take a decision. I resolved to make films my career - no preparation. The only reason to take a plunge was my circumstances. It has been tough to keep it going without a godfather or a guide. So I just accepted every film that came my way."Pavitra discovered along the way that she was reasonably talented and could also look glamorous. But what came in her way was her tall and big frame. She could never get a heroine's role for the singular reason that the male lead was invariably shorter than her. "`You should have planned your career better; if you had gone to Chennai you could have really made it big,' people would tell me. But then, no regrets," says the forbearing actress.

Living up to expectations

"I feel I've ably lived up to the expectations of the glamour-driven film industry. My mother and my brother have given me great support."Though Pavitra has had to settle for supporting roles in films, she feels good about the roles she has played in many television serials. "Coming to films was a conscious decision. I came without any definite purpose or a role model. So I hold myself responsible for whatever I have gained or lost." She feels that even those producers who enter the field backed by an ideology finally succumb to market pressure. "Ultimately their product has to sell." A lot of criticism came her way when she played the vamp in the comedy Ulta Palta. "But to this day, it is very popular. In fact, I even enjoyed playing the role. I'm rather careful about my choice of roles for television. Because the effects of the medium are far-reaching," she observes.Pavitra remembers instances when she has had problems with certain dialogues and scenes. She appreciates the manner in which directors such as T.N. Sitaram and Nagatihalli Chandrashekhar weave in social concerns even within the larger framework of a powerful market force. However, she complains that television, as a medium hasn't been put to its best use. " Naayi Neralu is the most important phase of my career. When Girish offered the role, he insisted that I shouldn't read the novel. To be honest, I hadn't watched any of Girish's films and didn't put myself through any rigour even for this one. I went for the shooting like a blank sheet of paper."Girish Kasaravalli is a strict disciplinarian. Pavitra says how he wouldn't let her "act" and wouldn't even teach how to be "natural". "For the first time I saw ten copies of the script on the sets. Every department had a copy of the entire script of the film." Photographer S. Ramachandra's (he has bagged the Lifetime Achievement award) suggestions were of great help too, recalls Pavitra. She was quite astounded Girish's meticulous homework on each and every shot. He was absolutely clear of what he expected from each one of them. "He wouldn't let go till he was satisfied. Just what he wanted, nothing more, nothing less. Even batting the eyelid an extra time was a strict no-no," says Pavitra, feeling grateful for having worked with him.Pavitra's father Mysore Lokesh was elated when he had won an award for his film Prajegalu Prabhugalu. "I wish he was here now... he would have been proud of me," she says nostalgically. Pavitra's mother and brother stood there nodding in approval even as they felt very happy for her.

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