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    Tamil film industry's attitude really hurt: Sharmili

    [Interview by Aparna Nath]
    Wednesday, May 19, 2004
    Her first film 'Anbe Anbe', produced by AVM, was a disaster. But with the huge success of Vinayan's Velli Nakshatram', she has proved to the industry that talent can never be suppressed.
    In an interview with IANS, she spoke about the film and how the Tamil film industry treated her after the failure of her first movie. Excerpts:

    You are a Chennai girl and have acted only in Tamil. How did a Malayalam film happen?

    It is a long story. It is not that I am not connected to Malayalam. I had done a lot of Malayalam ads like the ones for Alukkas, Kalyan Silk Saris etc. I did an ad for Mathrubhumi; and I guess Vinayan sir noticed me, and wanted to meet me.
    That was in November last year. I was about to leave for London for a television assignment. I told him about it, but he wanted some of my photographs. On seeing my photos, he felt I was the right person. He narrated the story and I fell in love with it instantly. To cut a long story short, the London people agreed to wait. That was how we started shooting for the film in December.

    How did the shooting go? Did the character shape up the way you expected?

    Of course. In fact, I was shooting continuously for 26 hours sometimes. You won't believe I saw the sunrise before I went to sleep on several days! For example, the climax takes place at night, and I am the main person in the climax. So the regular shooting went on during daytime and the climax was shot after that at night. And you know, the film is about spirits, reincarnation, etc.

    Do you believe in all that?

    I believe in good and bad. I strongly believe in god. I believe that if you have faith in god, no evil can attack you.

    But "Velli Nakshatram" cannot be termed as a realistic film.

    To tell you frankly, I like realistic films but, being an artist, I feel I should act in all kinds of films. "Velli Nakshatram", I would say, is a fun film, a holiday package. I was thrilled with the story.

    Did you expect the film to be such a huge hit? The initial reaction was not that encouraging but it soon started attracting people.

    I prayed to god to make it a hit. All of us worked so hard. I have never worked so hard. I felt so happy when I heard it is a huge hit that I cried!

    But did you feel bad when your first Tamil film failed miserably at the box office?

    Everybody wants to make a hit film. But it did not happen with my Tamil film. Can you blame any one person if a film fails? The entire blame fell on me, the heroine. The Tamil film industry called me a jinxed heroine. How does a heroine who was used for a few songs and a few scenes, as a glamour doll, decide the success of the film? It did not make any sense to me.
    My question is: would they have rewarded the same heroine if the film were a hit? Then, the credit would go to the hero or the director. I could not find answers to these questions.
    When "Velli Nakshatram" became a huge success, I felt I proved myself. When the Tamil film flopped, people over here said I had no luck. How is it that the same girl could give a super hit in Malayalam?

    Now, you must be flooded with a lot of offers from Malayalam?

    Yes, I am. But because of the huge strike that is happening in the Malayalam film industry it will take time for the shootings to start. My next film is with Kunchacko Boban. Then I am doing another film with Sheelamma where I will be performing a traditional art form. I will be devoid of any make-up in the film.

    How different was acting in a Malayalam film from a Tamil film?

    There's a lot of difference. The first thing is we do quick work. There is excellent planning. For example, we generally finish a film in a month. Then the way artistes perform. In Malayalam, all artistes work for the betterment of the scene and not for themselves.
    A Malayalam film set is like a family. During lunchtime, all sit together and eat the same food. Elsewhere, you will see special food going for the hero, heroine etc. But in the Malayalam industry, it is the same food for all.

    Being a Tamil girl, is your heart still in Tamil cinema?

    After "Velli Nakshatram" became a hit, I was offered a couple of Tamil films but I have already committed myself to many Malayalam films. So I told them I didn't have the required dates. Then they told me, 'Madam, you have gone from Tamil to Malayalam and now you are not giving us dates!' I said, 'I want to be where my talent is going to be recognised.' You know these are the same people who said I was not lucky, I couldn't perform. Why do they need me now? I really felt hurt when these people spoke that way.

    Have you cancelled your plans to move to London?

    I don't know. God gave me the London trip and then the Malayalam cinema, I think now god has to take a decision!

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