Five years... and still sitting pretty
She is television’s popular face. Devayani tells CHITRA SWAMINATHANabout her serial success, marriage and motherhood
Photos : S.S. Kumar
Straddling two worlds Devayani
It’s 11 in the morning. The sun is searing. When you reach the bungalow tucked inside a nondescript lane in Nesappakam, the crew is scurrying to get a shot ready. Shooting for the serial ‘Manjal Mahimai’ (Kalaignar TV) is on. After
a few minutes of waiting, you see the door of the caravan parked in the compound, open. The protagonist of the serial, Devayani in a deep red sari, long tresses cascading down her back, steps out with her make-up man and hairdresser in tow.
You can’t miss that lustrous complexion and endearing coy smile. Post-partum (she delivered her second daughter Priyanka seven months ago); she is almost back to her slender self. Losing no time, Devayani starts posing in the manner of a pro and the photographer happily goes on a clicking-spree.
“I think you have taken pictures for the next ten years,” jokes the reigning queen of Tamil television as she invites you into her caravan for the interview. She leans back on the cushioned seat and talks about her run in the film industry, marriage, motherhood and serial success.
Professionally, the transition is complete — from a teeny-weeny girl in fluttering skirts, to a sari-clad, demure heroine, to a woman with grit and gumption.
Abhi (her character in ‘Kolangal’) as she is more popularly known today, is delighted by the overwhelming response of viewers and the respect and recognition television has fetched her. “I am like a part of every family. I haven’t received such adulation doing films,” she says excitedly.
Thankfully, life is about second chances. Otherwise, Devayani would have been unaware of her acting potential. “In the film industry, most heroines can only dream of roles like Abhi. Once they marry, they have to call it quits or be content playing sister or mother.”
Television offers came to her before marriage. “I didn’t give it serious thought then because I was busy doing films. But now, the small screen has helped me strike a beautiful balance between work and home. I am happy with my screen roles and also being there for my husband and children,” says the quintessential girl-next-door.
The moment she read the script of ‘Kolangal’, Devayani knew she was going to play Abhi, the tough middle-class girl who fights her way through odds and comes up trumps in life.
“I was never comfortable doing glamorous roles. I prefer a minimalist look. When director Agathiyan asked me if I could play a simple sari-clad heroine in his film “Kadhal Kottai”, I said a loud ‘yes’. This hit film announced my arrival in Kollywood."
Born in Mumbai in a Konkani family with no film connections, Devayani started her career with a Hindi movie that was a non-starter. “The co-producer of the film was known to our family and offered me the lead role of a Pahadi girl (from Himachal Pradesh). He thought I looked like one. I was tempted to give it a try though my parents were not for it. The film never released. Later, I got offers to do Malayalam films. Again I thought, why not? One project led to another (read Tamil films) and before I knew I had entered showbiz.”
Coming back to “Kolangal”. Hasn’t it been tedious to play Abhi for the past five years? “Not at all. The immense scope the character offers makes it exciting. There are new twists and turns in the story every other day. Besides, the unit is like a big, extended family. We have lots of fun during the shoot. I had both my babies during the making of ‘Kolangal’,” she laughs. “So it’s an emotional bond too.”
How much of a hands-on mom is she? “When I’m at home all my time is spent with the children. Mornings are particularly hectic. Besides taking care of the little one, I have to get my elder daughter Iniya ready for play-school. I drop her everyday at school. I also often take them out in the evenings.”
The affable actor created a flutter in the industry when she suddenly tied the knot with “good friend” and director Rajakumaran. “Nobody knew about our affair. We would hardly meet. The love-talks were restricted to the phone. It was he who proposed first. Though I took some time to say ‘yes’, I am happy I did. He is an easy-going person and extremely supportive,” coos Devayani.
All in the family
Her caravan has a good stock of DVDs.
Between shots Devayani catches up on
films, usually old Tamil and Hindi films.
Daughter Iniya is a big fan of Shah Rukh
Khan and has watched "Kuch Kuch Hota
Hai" several times.
Husband Rajakumaran will make his acting
debut with "Thirumathi Tamizh" for
which he is currently shooting with Kirti
Her brother Nakulan (one of the four
boys in Shankar's "Boys") is making his
acting debut in "Kaadhalil Vizhundhein".
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