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On a comeback trail

SHOBHA NAIR

Seema dwells upon her long innings in the film world and her new avatar on the small screen.


Eminent actresses like Sowkar Janaki were at their best after they turned 40, but in Malayalam cinema, opportunities for actresses like us are rare. -- Seema



Sense and sensitivity: Seema enacts her roles with panache.

Seema, the star of yester year, is today back in the limelight with roles in the mini screen, both in Malayalam and Tamil.

Dressed in a traditional set-mundu, Seema spoke at length about her new avatar on the small screen. Seema dwelt upon her roles in television serials and recalled how in 1998-99, film director K. Balachander offered her a role in `Ammavukku Randilu Raahu,' saying that artistes of her calibre should not let their talent go to waste. Her role was that of a cranky old lady. The serial was so popular that the initial 13 episodes had been extended to 17. Then came her role as Induma where she played the role of a dutiful mother. Anuhasan, Suhasini's cousin, played the character of the duughter, in the latter's serial `Anpulla Snehithae.'

In Malayalam serials

She entered Malayalam television screen with `Chillu,' which was screened on Kairali channel. Her role as Susan Fernandez, the judge, in `Muhurtham,' was well-received. It gave her the utmost satisfaction, she said.

The name Seema (she was Shanthi once) was chosen by the Tamil actor, director, and writer Vijayan in his movie `Nizhale Nee Sakshi.' Seema's versatility helped her portray roles ranging from the sultry heroine, the firebrand activist and the meek, wronged woman to mature roles that tapped her acting talent. Right from her first movie, `Avalude Ravukal,' Seema stole the hearts of Malayalis with her role of a a teenager forced into prostitution, yet craving for a family. I.V. Sasi, who later married her, was the director of the film.

Seema's career was at its zenith in the early and mid-Eighties in films such as `Alkoottathil Thaniyae,' `Sandhiyacku Virinja Poockal,' `Aksharangal,' `Rugma,' `Vaartha' and so on. Some of the roles were enacted after her marriage, and some after becoming the mother of two kids. She proudly pointed out that she had portrayed on the silver screen many of the characters in litterateur M.T. Vasudevan Nair's stories. Seema also has the distinction of having worked with heroes like Prem Nazeer and Madhu, to M.G. Soman, Sukumaran, Jayan, and Mammooty and Mohanlal.

For a decade between 1989 and 1999, Seema was away from the cine world and made a comeback in `Olympian Antony Adam.'

Does she plan to take up a strong characterisation? "I would love to, if an offer comes. Eminent actresses like Sowkar Janaki were at their best after they turned 40, but sadly in Malayalam cinema opportunities for actresses like us are rare," she said.

Shifting to Kerala

The popularity of the mini screen has led to many actors shifting base to Kerala. But Seema said, "Although my father hails from Thalassery and my mother from Ernakulam, I was born and brought up in Chennai."

A good dancer, Seema perfected her dancing under the tutelage of Kamalahasan.

Her first brush with tinsel world was when she was working as an assistant choreographer. Her daughter, Anu, is also an excellent dancer. Anu made her debut in Sasi's film, `Symphony.' However, Anu is now concentrating on her higher studies. Ani, Seema's son, is in Class Ten.

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