`Acting is a lot of responsibility'
PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN
As kids they were the darlings of the masses. If Shalini caught popular imagination as the orphaned kid in Fazil's "Ente Mamattikkuttiyammakku" and went on to act in 95 movies, her sister Shamlee had people alternating between laughter and tears at her antics in "Anjali." She stopped acting when she was 10 years old, after about 70 movies.
Shalini, after some movies as heroine and marriage to actor Ajit, is now indulging in her latest passion badminton. And, Shamlee, who was last seen in "Kandukondein Kandukondein," is now having fun behind the camera pursuing a course in visual communication. When the two get together, the similarities are striking. Subha J Rao listens to their banter.
The conversation starts off with the recent incident involving little Prince who fell into a borewell in Kurukshetra. Did it kindle memories of Malutty for Shamlee? (She played a kid who falls into an unused borewell in the Malayalam film)
Shamlee: Actually, no. I was too young while shooting to remember it.
Shalini: In fact, some people called to get your reaction to the incident. Were you scared while doing the film?
Shamlee: I don't remember anything at all. I was around two and did what I had to.
Shalini: I remember most of my films. I was a little older (three-and-a-half years) when I entered. I resent the fact that even if I don't behave like a star people tend to treat me as one.
Shamlee: I don't like it when people stare at me for no reason.
Shalini: Sometimes, I crave anonymity. It feels bad when you are recognised wherever you go.
(Do they miss the arc lights?)
Shamlee: Not one bit. I am enjoying college. Acting is a lot of responsibility. Now, I am absolutely free.
Shalini: I too used to feel that way. I was having a ball doing different things when Fazil sir called for Aniyathi pravu (the Malayalam film based on which Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai was made). I had starting trouble, but then began to enjoy it. I think you should also return to acting.
Shamlee: You brainwash me. Earlier, I used to say I will not act. Now, I am like `maybe... '.
Shalini: Shamu, we've never acted together, have we?
Shamlee: Remember Jagadeka Veerudu Atiloka Sundari (Telugu)? All three of us (including brother Richard) acted in it.
Shalini: You've always been so quiet. Quite a contrast to me.
Shamlee: I used to be quiet as a kid. Not any more.
(Memorable events during shooting)
Shamlee: I used to act a lot with animals. In some films, my co-stars were a dog, monkey, snake and an elephant. There was this film where an animal combed my hair as I looked on. But, I never got scared though I was almost bitten by a monkey once. I loved sitting atop an elephant.
Shalini: I remember how I slid down the trunk of an elephant while shooting in Mudumalai. I fell between its legs and was slightly hurt.
Shamlee: And, during the shooting of Kandukondein, Ajit would keep telling me - "Please, ask your sister to marry me." I played cupid for you. Thinking about it, I've done it all my life. I love helping people.
Shalini: Shamu, you are the reason why I agreed to act in Amarkalam (her first film with Ajit, during the shooting of which they fell in love). I had taken a break after Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai, because I wanted to complete my exams. I kept refusing offers, even when Ajit called. When we went to see a preview of Kaadhal Mannan, starring him, you told me the hero looked good and that I must act with him.
(The topic drifts to Shalini's exploits in the field of badminton)
Shamlee: How is your badminton going?
Shalini: The game is addictive. Last week, I won a state-level doubles tournament in Namakkal. I was featured in the sports news and I was exhilarated. Remember Shamu, we started our coaching together?
Shamlee: I dropped out of professional coaching. Now, I want to pursue it again.
Shalini: I practise my strokes long after I leave the court. I think about a shot in the middle of something else and call up my badminton friends. They understand. The game is physically demanding. You can't take it easy. Everyday is important.
(On their favourite star)
Shamlee: Mine is Shah Rukh Khan. I've watched KANK four times. You know, Ajit promised to arrange a meeting with Shah Rukh if I got you to marry him. He was shooting for Asoka then. He kept his promise.
Shalini: I don't idol-worship anybody, but I love Michael Jackson. Back to films, I loved you in Anjali. I cried so much watching it. Have you watched my films?
Shamlee: I've cried watching all your films. Especially, your Aniyathi... and Osai.
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