Yesterday once more
Yesteryear actor Sharada, who is acting in Jayaraj's ‘Naayika,' recollects her heyday in Mollywood.
I only accepted films which I felt comfortable doing
Back in action: Sharada returns to Mollywood with ‘Naayika.'
She is a familiar face in Malayalam cinema with several generations of audiences having grown up watching her on screen. And though she hails from Andhra Pradesh, Sharada says: “This is my home. I belong to Kerala.”
Sharada began her career in tinsel town by acting in Telugu films and shortly thereafter became active in Malayalam cinema. And the rest, as the viewers who have watched her fine histrionics would chorus, is history.
Standing the test of time
With some powerful performances that have stood the test of time, Sharada is regarded as one of the finest actors in Malayalam, if not Indian cinema. After the National awards were introduced in 1968, she won the best actor recognition thrice: for ‘Thulabharam' (1969), ‘Swayamvaram' (1973), and for the Telugu film, ‘Nimajjanam' (1979). The awards, then called ‘Urvashi,' became a part of her name and she has been known as ‘Urvashi' Sharada ever since.
Now Sharada returns to Malayalam cinema with a lead role in director Jayaraj's ‘Naayika,' which is based on the life of a yesteryear heroine who gradually fades away from the limelight.
“I haven't done a Malayalam film after ‘Rappakal' and was away from movies for the last few years. It's great to face the camera again and it is even more special as we were shooting at Udaya Studios in Alappuzha, where my career in Malayalam cinema began more than four decades ago. I was so young then and this place has been instrumental in shaping my career. There is a great feeling of sadness when I think about all those who were there with me then and are no more now. But then, that is life,” says the actor, who has given life to some of the most memorable female characters in Malayalam cinema.
Although ‘Naayika' is not based on the life of any particular heroine, Sharada says: “My character was a heartthrob in the past and there are certain scenes in the movie which I can relate to. I feel comfortable working with this unit as I have known most of them for years. I am enjoying working with this team and the company of the current crop of youngsters. And when everyone around me considers me as part of their family and as one of their own, I feel so lucky.”
The veteran actor, who is sharing screen space with young heartthrobs Mamta Mohandas and Padmapriya in ‘Naayika,' says it is not fair to compare the current crop of actors with those in her heydays.
“In fact, there is no need to make such comparisons. These young women of today are just as brilliant. In contrast, those of my generation were so naïve and knew virtually nothing when we came into films. But most of the kids today are educated and are much more intelligent. We learnt things on the job while these girls are already up to pace. My only advice to them is that they be careful while selecting roles. They should only choose ones that suit them perfectly,” says the actor, who is known for essaying roles with that rare intensity.
And this very intensity that she had infused into each of her characters has perhaps made them a cut above the rest.
“I only accepted films which I felt comfortable doing. And as it always happened, only good roles came to me. I think the highlight of my characters was that they were always moulded within the parameters of our culture. Nowadays Western ideals are definitely having an impact on our lives, but I believe that we have to draw a line somewhere so that such ideals will not affect our cultural ethos,” says the actor, who was active in politics for a while. She was elected as a Member of Parliament from Tenali.
“When I became part of politics, I really got involved in it, and tried to stay away from movies. But as it happened, it became difficult after a while and I was back to doing films.
“When I am busy with daily chores I don't feel too bad about not being part of the industry. It's when I come back and start facing the camera again that I realise how much I miss this. Of course, over the years everything has changed in films.”
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