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The girl next door

The ‘Palunku’ girl, Lakshmi Sarma, tells Sangeeta that her kind of roles exist only in Malayalam films



Reflections Lakshmi Sharma feels that her looks and aptitude match Malayali sensibilities

“Keep your heart pure, conceive your own dreams

Respect your fellow man, the earth and the trees...”

These lyrics from the King Klick album ‘Positive Vibes’ would describe Lakshmi Sarma the best. The ‘Palunku’ girl comes across as an optimistic, contented girl next door. As a prelude to the conversation, she hums an old Malay alam number.

“Oru Madhura Kinavin lahariyilengo...,’ Remember Rahman and Sobhana dancing to it? I loved it. I heard this number when I came down to Guruvayur for a visit. I was in class ten then. I went back to Vijayawada and asked some of my Malayali friends to get me that song ,” says Lakshmi.

First encounter

That was Lakshmi Sarma’s first encounter with Malayalam cinema. The second one was to come years later, in 2006. “I was doing a bit of modelling, ballets and television after college. By then, we had moved to Hyderabad. I did a couple of Telugu films too. I got a call from a model co-ordinator in Chennai asking me to audition for a Hariharan movie. I did, but did not get through. Later when Blessy was casting for ‘Thanmatra,’ he spotted me from those tapes and offered me Meera Vasudev’s role. I could not take it up then, as I was busy with my ballets. He called me again for ‘Palunku.”’

Though a bit nervous about working in an unknown language, Lakshmi says she managed with the help of the crew. “I had to put in an extra effort because ‘Palunku’ was very different from the films I had worked in. Expectations were high since it was a Blessy-Mammootty film.” Lakshmi regards ‘Palunku’ as a special film not only because it fetched her awards, but also because it gave her a chance to meet her all-time favourite hero, Mammooty.

“My brother and I had many Malayali friends. Some of Mammooka’s super hit movies like ‘Dalapathy’ were dubbed into Telugu. He has also done an excellent Telugu movie called ‘Swathi Kiranam.’”

Lakshmi, who is back in Malayalam movies with M.A. Nishad’s ‘Nagaram,’ where she plays an Anganvadi teacher, is gung ho about her role in the film.

Theme of ‘Nagaram’

“I liked the theme of ‘Nagaram.’ It is set in Sivaramapuram - a village where urban waste is dumped. The Government does not provide a proper waste management system. As a result, the residents fall prey to diseases. ‘Nagaram’ is about their fight for justice. My character progresses from a naive villager to a social activist.”

Although not a hardcore activist, Lakshmi says she too gets agitated with the system at times. “I cannot stand injustice. I do protest, in my own way. I may not be able to change the world overnight, but I will do my bit towards it. I would like to be part of such issue-based films.”

Lakshmi adds that she prefers to work in Malayalam – the only industry where “her kind of roles happen.”

“My colleagues in Telugu used to tell me that I should work in Malayalam. They said that my looks and aptitude matched the Malayali sensibilities.”

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