Bollywood Actress Sameera Reddy Interview

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Sameera Reddy fans and admirers, who loved her dumb bimbo act with Anil Kapoor in Abbas-Mastaan’s RACE, will find it difficult to recognize her in Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s just-released Bengali film KAAL PURUSH (Memories in the Mist.) Sameera flew down for the premiere to Kolkata and flew back even before the film was over. Her role in KAAL PURUSH was followed by another role in Dasgupta’s latest film THE VOYEURS. Our correspondent spoke to the very friendly and beautiful Sameera

Considering that your debut in films began only in 2002 with MAINE DIL TUJHKO DIYA, you have come a long way, right?
I consider myself lucky to have worked with the best directors in the industry. It has not been easy but it is not easy for anyone in the industry. It is an uphill climb for all of us here, including Shahrukh Khan. I have worked with directors ranging from Sanjay Gupta through Ram Gopal Verma to Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Aruna Raje. I worked with Mira Nair though that was for a short film MIGRATION, screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007. I play a housewife who is HIV+. THE VOYEURS, my second film with Buddha-da, was screened at the same festival.

How did it all begin?
When I was still studying at the Sydenham College in Mumbai, I happened to be chosen for a Pankaj Udhas video called ‘Aashita’. My sisters, Meghna and Sushma were also very inspiring for me. I used to be a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky girl in college. But after this video, I became serious and decided to concentrate on two things – training in Kathak and acting in films. After my debut in MAINE DIL TUJHKO DIYA, I did two Telugu films, NARASIMHUDU and JAI CHIRANJEEVA.

How do you look at the polarities between the two characters you have played in RACE and KAAL PURUSH?
I am not bothered about polarities because the films are different, the directors are different and even the audience is different. Though I consider myself a spontaneous actress, I need a director to guide me so that it makes me a director’s actress as well. Playing a dumb bimbo in RACE is equally important to me as is playing Supriya in Buddha-da’s KAAL PURUSH. I was looking for a comic role after serious stuff like Sanjay Gupta’s MUSAFIR and Ram Gopal Verma’s DARNA MANA HAI. I am thrilled that the film is a big hit. KAAL PURUSH on the other hand, thanks to Buddha-da, really made me understand and learn to love what I was doing.

How close are you to Supriya, the ambitious housewife you played in KAAL PURUSH?
I loved the character of Supriya because it has several shades to it, beginning as a hard and bitter woman and then, unable to cope with a husband who turns out to be a ‘failure’ by her definition, she slowly realises that she must become independent. The great American dream is just a trigger to turn her into a writer of travelogues on places she has never visited but has seen only on video. Love for Supriya, slowly turns to pity, as her husband tells his father at one point in the film. I do not equate any character I play with my real self as Sameera, the woman and Sameera, the actress. An actress need not be ‘close’ or ‘distant’ to a character.

Which scene in the film do you carry with you in your heart?
I love the scene in which I play the prostitute who the hero suddenly visits one night. She finds his behaviour rather strange especially when he asks her, ‘why don’t you put on your sari?’ Then, with a sad and puzzled expression on her face, she says, “You won’t begin to pull at it again, will you?” She somehow feels he is a good man but is confused and sad. It is a scene I will carry with me forever. Thanks to Buddha-da, he really pushed me beyond my expectations. That is why when he asked me whether I would like to feature in THE VOYEURS; I did not even ask him for the script. It has been a pleasure working with him.

You are much disciplined in your daily life, we hear.
I wasn’t before. But after I began training in Kathak from Pandit Viru Krishna Maharaj and then entered films, my life changed forever. I am grateful to Guruji for having taught me how to use Kathak in a film situation. Today, I wake up early, do my yoga, followed by my Kathak riyaaz, regular work out and I am sorted for the day. My turning point came with MUSAFIR and though I have had my share of flops, there have been milestones too. KAAL PURUSH is my career best till date. The film and the director helped me develop a new dimension – imbibing the Bengali culture in terms of its language, its food, the way a woman like Supriya dresses, making me fall in love with our traditional mode of dress – the sari.

Your future projects?
I am playing the female lead, a Naxalite, in Aruna Raje’s RED ALERT on the contemporary nationalist movement. It explores and shows how circumstances decide the destiny of a person who evolves into a Naxalite in course of time. Along with me are Sunil Shetty, Ayesha Dharkar and Naseeruddin Shah. Then there is MAHAYODDHA RAM, an animation film where I have done the voice-over for ‘Sita’, and two more comedies about which I am not supposed to say much at this point.

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