Never-say-die attitude



Acting in serials and films, running a dance school… it's non-stop activity for Sudha Chandran

Overdressed is the image the mention of Sudha Chandran evokes, thanks to the many Ekta Kapoor serials she has appeared in. Ditto on Surya TV's “Kathaparayum Kavyanjali”. But, when a soberly-dressed Sudha Chandran, in white chikankaari salwar kurta, opens the door to her room, in Kochi, where she is shooting for the Mohanlal-starrer, “Alexander the Great”, it takes three seconds to process the fact it is her. She laughs at the inevitable question about her sartorial change. “That is just for the serials. It is about being different; one gets noticed, and that is important in this business.” Those who remember Ramola Sikand in “Kahin Kisi Roz” will agree her popularity had to do with the way she dressed too. Is she from Kerala or Tamil Nadu? “I am a Malayali. My ancestors are from Tamil Nadu, but they settled in Irinjalakuda. I come here every year with my father; our family is here…my roots are here,” she says

TRP Actor!

Sudha calls herself a ‘TRP actor', the actor who is brought in to prop sagging TRPs. “Say Sudha Chandran is in a serial, and bingo! TRPs just shoot up,” she claims. She, however, has put all that on the backburner for the time being. Setting up base in Chennai, even buying a house, Sudha is now intent on concentrating on the South. “Chennai seems to be the base for the south Indian film industry in general. Plus, I did not want to delay giving the film industry a shot.”

“There was no point delaying it any further. I wanted to try at least once, and get out of my comfort zone in Mumbai. I know Hindi serials are waiting for me there.” And, the decision is paying off, she says. She has been doing Tamil serials (such as ‘Arasi' and ‘Kalasam'), she is now acting in “Santhupottu” which will star Sibi Raj (Sathyaraj's son) in the lead role.

Ask her about her role in “Alexander the Great”, and she says she plays a young-ish mother.

“It is a Suhasini or Revathy kind of role. There is a lot of space to do those kinds of roles in the south Indian film industry.” Sudha disagrees with the notion that superstars (male, of course!) are ageless or at least seem to be trying to defy age, “there are tailor made roles for actors (women); look at Suhasini or Revathy, the roles they are doing. Things are changing.”

Dance appears to be her passion; she has established a dance academy in Mumbai, ‘Sudha Chandran Academy of Dance', which has branches all over Mumbai and Pune. Ravikumar Dang, Sudha's husband, is the executive director of the school.

When she talks about dance her face lights up, more so when she talks about a ‘Jathra' (Bengali dance drama) she is working on. The performances will start in September.

The theme is broadly based on the concept of nine ‘devis' (forms of Goddesses), nine regions and nine dance forms. There was a time when even walking seemed impossible. Sudha's right leg was amputated as the result of an accident. From walking with a Jaipur foot to dancing with one, her story has been chronicled (with filmi treatment) in “Nache Mayuri”.

“I don't think about it unless someone brings it up. Then I rewind, otherwise…it's like people too have forgotten about it. During a shoot for a serial recently, the director asked me to run down 12 steps and leap into a moving car. I thought he was joking but then realised he hadn't remembered. So I didn't say anything and did as I was told. After the shot I asked him, ‘Sandy what were you thinking of when you conceived the shot?' Even then he didn't realise it, and then it dawned on him. I thought, ‘Good', people are forgetting that aspect.”

She is proud she has been able to make a mark and inspire people like her.

“I was a guest at an event where I saw dancers without both legs dancing with artificial legs,” says Sudha.

She says when she danced with the help of her Jaipur foot she had told the doctors there that one Sudha Chandran was not enough; there should be 25 more Sudha Chandrans. “They put up a performance with 50 amputees and said, ‘You asked for 25, we are giving you 50'. That was such a wonderful moment.”

She has been living with the Jaipur foot for the last 25 years and it is like a part of her, “I replace it depending on the wear and tear.”

Sudha's story is part of the school syllabus in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.


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