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Southern star

Sandhya talks to Sangeeta about her dream ride in tinsel town

PHOTO: K. ANANTHAN

POSITIVE APPROACH Sandhya acts with Mammotty in `Prajapathi'

Revathy was like any other schoolgirl until Balaji Sakthivel chose her portfolio during the talent search for his film `Kaadhal.' It was no run-of-the-mill role, as the central character in `Kaadhal' passes through an array of emotions and experiences over a period spanning five to six years. As he zoomed into this bubbly teenager's reactions during the screen test, Balaji found that this girl with no prior experience was versatility personified.

Renamed Sandhya, the Chennai-based Malayali girl was chosen to play the lead in `Kaadhal,' the biggest Tamil block buster of 2004.

Life has never been the same for Sandhya since then. Although flooded with offers, Sandhya chose to play only challenging, performance-oriented roles. This included two films in Malayalam - Sibi Malayil's `Alice in Wonderland' and Ranjith's `Prajapathi.' Although `Alice in Wonderland' failed to repeat the magic in `Kaadhal,' `Prajapathi' definitely has Sandhya at her enchanting best.

Positive feedback

"It gives you immense pleasure and drive to perform once you get positive feedback for your work. I instinctively knew that the role in `Prajapathi,' though not a meaty, full-length role, would give me enough scope to perform since the character figures in all the crucial scenes of the movie. Moreover, I was getting to work with great names in the industry - Ranjith, Mammooty, Nedumudi Venu and so on. In `Prajapathy,' Sandhya plays Lakshmi, the naughty cousin of Devarmadom Narayanan, played by Mammooty, whom she rates as the friendliest co-star she has ever had.

Good experience

"It was fun you know, they all treated me like a kid. I was given time to rehearse and improvise. The film had some good moments, especially the scene where I put eye drops into my father's eyes and then steal the money; it was a good experience altogether."

Although Sandhya plans to work in all South Indian languages, Malayalam is special, says the 17-year-old.

Among her films, `Kaadhal' remains her favourite.

" You know veteran Tamil director K. Balachander told me that I'm the best talent he has seen since Saritha. His words were so encouraging, but when you think about the expectations and responsibilities tagged with it, it's scary."

Sandhya, who won the Best Actress Filmfare Award for Kaadhal, has no specific criteria about the selection of roles.

"The role and story should interest me. I have been very selective; I cannot play glamour roles."

Her second Tamil film `Dishyum' with Jeeva is running to packed cinemas since January. Sandhya is currently working on Silambarasan's `Vallavan' along with Simbu himself, Nayantara and Reema Sen.

"I play Simbu's friend in Vallavan, the shooting is on and the film will be a Diwali release. Other assignents in Tamil include Cheenu Ramaswamy's `Koodal Nagar' again with Bharath, and Cheran's `Pokkisham.' I haven't signed any Malayalam films so far, but I am looking into a couple of interesting scripts that I might do in the near future."

Sandhya plans to judiciously divide her time between Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films. She also plans to continue her studies from this year onwards.

Home ground

Says Sandhya, whose mother tongue is Malayalam, "Working in a Malayalam unit is like visiting my place in Aluva. I am a fan of Malayalam movies and used to watch a lot of films; I am a great fan of Mohanlal and Manju Warrier. I must have watched `Kanmadam,' `Devasuram,' `Kilukkam' and `Chithram' a thousand times."

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