After Virumaandi, Abhirami is waiting for scripts that offer scope for acting, write M. ALLIRAJAN and RAYAN ROZARIO
IT'S HARD to believe this is the girl who played the role of Annalakshmi in Kamal Hassan's latest flick Virumaandi.
Clad in a red salwar with her tresses let loose, Abhirami looks little like the bold village lass she played with finesse in the movie.
In town at the invitation of the Hindusthan College of Arts and Science, she spent time chatting about movies and acting.
Abhirami faintly remembers her movie debut. "I was eleven when I acted in noted filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Kathapurushan. It was a minor one and I did not realise I was working with a legend like Adoor," she recalls.
"I have seen him taking the entire day to shoot a scene and used to wonder what he was up to. Now, I understand his passion for perfectionism."
Movies, however, were never a career option for Abhirami. "I wanted to become a veterinary doctor. But, I was put off when told that I would have to dissect animals. Then, I dreamt of being a journalist," she says with a smile. That did not happen, too.
Anchoring programmes for Asianet opened new vistas for her. Soon, she started acting in Malayalam movies. She played the lead role in "Gnangal Santhustarane". "It was so good to see myself on a poster," she exclaims.
Did Virumaandi give her the much-needed break in Tamil cinema? "It is definitely a milestone in my career. But, I won't term it a break," she says. "Initially, I was apprehensive about playing the role. Annalakshmi has a personality of her own and is bold. I did my homework and learnt the Madurai dialect."
"It was a good learning experience. Somewhat like reading a book. The junior artistes from Madurai taught me the regional accent. My make-up had a brownish tinge to accentuate the earthy look," she adds.
She credits Kamal Hassan with fleshing out the character she portrayed. "It was like going through a crash course in filmmaking. I approached it as if it was my first movie. I got into the skin of the character and learnt to forget that I was the heroine." "It felt great to hear people calling me Annalakshmi," she remarks.
The bull, Sorimuthu, played an important role in the movie. How comfortable was she sharing screen space with him?
"I have a special relationship with Sorimuthu. He was a good buddy. Even now if I see a bull on the road I feel he is Sorimuthu. It is as if he is my pet."
Playing a rustic belle is not new for this 21-year-old actress. She donned a similar role in Samudhram and in a Malayalam movie. But, Virumaandi was something different, because "it was a lot more rustic." "Bold portrayals," she says, "just happened."
With 20 movies in her kitty, (in four South Indian languages), Abhirami says that, henceforth, she will be choosy in her roles.
"I will not act in masala movies. My character should be important. If I accept all offers, the zeal for acting will be lost." She has now signed up with director Vikraman for a Telugu movie and is also acting in a Kannada film.
Abhirami, now pursuing a bachelor's degree in English literature through correspondence, says she misses college life and its fun.
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