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Framed!!

The stunning Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, our own Kannada girl, has made it big in Malyalam films. Little did she know that Kerala would catch up with her – right at home – when she made her decision, writes BHUMIKA K.

Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

WITHOUT BORDERS Lakshmi Gopalaswamy feels that if you are a good artist, language is no barrier

She is one actor who was so apprehensive of the big bad world of films. But she decided it was okay to do Malayalam films because then no one in Bangalore will know her! Much has changed since then for the stunning Lakshmi Gopalaswamy. Specially her notions. Now a well-known trilingual actor of south India, her debut film in Malayalam, “Arayannangalude Veedu”, won her the Kerala State award for best supporting actress. After a string of almost 15 films in Malayalam, her latest venture “Thaniye” has bagged her the best actress (runner-up) award this year.

The doe-eyed Lakshmi has made her debut in the Hindi film industry now with Mrinalini Patil’s “Dhuan”, based on a true-life story, where she plays a journalist.

Moved on

She admits she’s grown out of her phase of “playing safe”. “I’m comfortable playing an Indian woman. And in that sense Malayalam films suited me — the roles were not glamorous, and there was no exposure involved. It was not by design that I entered the industry. To start with, I guess I looked like a Malayali. But I’m a 100 per cent Kannadiga, though in Kerala they will argue that I’m a Palghat Iyer. I didn’t want to do Kannada films because I didn’t want to be recognised in my city; I wanted my space.”


And in all naïveté, she believed: “I thought Kerala was tucked away somewhere, so no one will know (if I act in those films). I didn’t know they were so accessible and reputed.”

Her first role was as a mother of two children, and this was soon after she completed her PG in Bangalore. “Since I’d already modelled and played mom, I was comfortable. But I was considered brave to do an ‘amma’ role as my first. But I thought it would be safe to do such a role because there wouldn’t be any intimate scenes!” she laughs, looking back at it now.

“I was scared to do films because I didn’t want to be talked of cheaply. Now in hindsight I feel that was stupid. You should be able to face what people say because people are going to talk anyway,” she concludes. Malayalam cinema offered her more performance-oriented roles. “If it’s a good director, in any language, the woman won’t be reduced to a prop or a bimbette. Maybe I’ve met more such directors there (Kerala). Tamil cinema doesn’t have many roles for women; it’s mostly of all young silly girls in love,” is how she puts it. She’s done two Tamil films, and two in Kannada — “Vishnu Sene”, and “Poorvapara” . She’s currently shooting Nagabharana’s “Nam Yajamanru” in Kannada.


The actor believes that if you are a good artist, language is no barrier. She writes down her Malayalam dialogues in Kannada and “by-hearts” them! Her magnum opus on the Tamil small screen “Lakshmi”, where she plays the never-say-die Netra, is getting ready for a wrap up after some 470 episodes. “I don’t really like the small screen because the market is TRP-driven. You need to add masala every Friday to up ratings… after a point my role became silly and negative.”

But the role went down well with audiences and brought her much recognition. She decided to do “Dhuan” because she believes she’s a responsible citizen who can create an impact on society. “I won’t do regressive roles and sometimes I mock myself for accepting the role of Netra.”

Lakshmi hails from a typical south Bangalore Brahmin family, for whom dance and modelling was fine. A qualified Bharatanatya dancer, she’s been dancing since she was eight, not because she was packed off to a dance class by her parents, but because she wanted to learn. Her father’s friend had an ad agency and he got her started on a successful modelling career. “From childhood I was never camera conscious. I enjoyed being photographed, but never considered it a profession.”

With guru Narmada and professor M.R. Krishnamurthy as her dance teachers, Lakshmi performs very often.

“Dance and films have a symbiotic relationship, where one offsets the other. Because of dance, I can express myself better and films have made me a more natural and cool dancer.” Currently, she’s a judge on Asianet’s dance show “Vodafone Takadhimi”. Life right now is hectic shuttling between Chennai, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram for shoots, living out of a suitcase, and having to clean up her room.

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