After establishing herself firmly in the hearts of her North Indian fans with her film, 'Vivaah', Amrita Rao is preparing to win over the South Indian audience with her Telegu film, 'Atithi'. Acting in a Marathi film is the top entry in her wishlist. We catch up with the petite actor.Q. Now that you have been in the industry for five
A. I come from a non-filmy background. When I first set foot into this industry, there were a few offers from the South, but since Bollywood was my first priority, I had to reject them. One gets only one single chance to prove himself in this industry, and that is why I though that I would think of regional films later. This film offer came to me after 'Vivaah', and I thought it was a good time for me to get into regional movies.
Q. Was there any particular reason that 'Atithi' appealed to you so much?
A. Telegu films are very hero-oriented. The heroine only gets to dance and sing. This film, however, has a strong role for the heroine. I get to work with the Padmalaya banner, and I have Telegu superstar Mahesh Babu as my co-star. My other co-stars are a dream cast, and they add so much to the movie. I get to do all the things that a hero usually does in these films. All these factors made me sign the movie.
Q. Tell us something about your role in this movie.
A. I play a bubbly college girl. She brings fantasy into her life, making it real. In the beginning of the film, you will see me in a 'Matrix' action sequence. I also get to enact some comedy scenes with comedians Brahmanandam, Sunil and Venu Madhav, three of the best comedians in the South film industry. My character undergoes a complete makeover towards the end of the movie. I consider myself very lucky to have bagged such a multi-faceted role.
Q. This is your first Telegu film. Any problems?
A. So many. Language, of course, was the first one. I was missing the flavour of the script, and that affected my performance. So I started writing the words in Hindi, with the meanings. I worked much harder than I did for my Hindi films, and it did me a lot of good. I now understand the language much better.
Q. Does that mean that your fans will see you in more Telegu films after this one?
A. I cannot make a decision right now. In this film, we spent six and a half crores on the first day itself. It is a big-budget film, and to be a part of such a film, I have to tread cautiously. And Bollywood will always be my first preference, and I have to make time for that as well.
A. He is such a passionate and talented actor that words fail me. When you share screen space with him, you are motivated to do something that will make you look good, if not as good as him. He reminded me of Shah Rukh Khan. Like SRK, Mahesh Babu's first shot is almost always an okay take, without the need for a second take. I really appreciate the fact that Mahesh Babu took time out to
Q. Did you work a lot of pre-production preparation for this film?
A. Not really, but I had to work on the language, and understand the character. This character was completely unlike my character in 'Vivaah'. There, I was an innocent, shy girl, and here I am all bubbly and vivacious. This role is not even like my role in 'Main Hoon Na'.
Q. If, in the future, you get movie offers from the South that
really appeal to you, how do you think you will balance your life
between Bollywood and the South?
A. At present, I don't think I will be able to commit that kind of time to a South film. I am tied up for the next six months at least, with some Bollywood films. I may be offered some more good Bollywood projects during this time. I don't want to miss out on any good projects because of my regional movies. I had made a place for myself in the hearts of the people of the north after 'Vivaah'. I am trying to do the same with the people of the south. However, I don't think I can continue shooting both places.
Q. What about the west and the east audience? What if you get an offer for a Marathi film?
A. If I get a chance to act in a Marathi film, I will consider it my good fortune. I was recently shooting with Shreyas Talpade, and I spoke with him in Marathi throughout – I am pretty fluent in both Marathi and Konkani. Marathi cinema has a lot of talent, and it is unfortunate that not too many good movies are made these days. I watched 'Bindaast', and I don't think there have been any seeable movies after that.
Q. You always seem to play the girl next door. Do you want to change this image?
A. I don't think there is a need for me to change this image. I have always done whatever has been asked of me, and I have been lucky to have worked under some good banners. And every role has been different from the previous one. I think variety is essential for an actor's survival. One should always surprise the audience.
A. No such plans at present, but I love working with him. After 'Vivaah', both of us decided that we would do more movies like that, and better ones. We are waiting for the right project to come along – the Shahid-Amrita pair is a commercial success, so we have to be choosy.
Q. Tell us about your forthcoming films.
A. After 'Vivaah', my next film is 'My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves', about which I am very excited. At present, I am shooting a song sequence for this movie, in Goa. The climax will be shot after this. The movie will release in January. It is a complete film, with the right amounts of romance, comedy, action and drama – great for a newcomer like me. My co-stars include newcomer Nikhil Dwivedi, Mithun Chakraborty, Anupam Kher and Lillette Dubey. Then there is 'Shortcut', and I will always be grateful to Anil Kapoor for giving me a chance to act in this wonderful movie. My co-stars are Akshaye Khanna and Arshad Warsi, and I hope to act as well as them. This is a story-oriented movie, and Arshad has the best role amongst us. I have a feeling that he will be as popular as he was with his role of Circuit. Then there is 'Hook Ya Crook', a UTV film that has yet to go on floor.
- Rajnee Gupta (SAMPURN)