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Geetu Mohandas is Damayanthi
Shobha Warrier | February 11, 2003 14:41 IST
It was a long search for Kamal Haasan's Raj Kamal Productions for the role of Damayanthi opposite Madhavan in their new film Nala Damayanthi.
The filmmakers wanted the girl to look Indian but with the body language of a non-resident Indian since Damayanthi was Australia born and bred. They made announcements over Radio Australia, tested several models. None seemed to fit.
"We didn't want a regular heroine to play Damayanthi. We were sure the girl should have the ethnic look of an Indian whether she was from Kerala or Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh," says director Mouli. He confesses the search was frustrating with the deadline to shoot fast nearing.
Then they decided to focus on young heroines making a mark in other languages. Since Kamal Haasan was familiar with the Malayalam film industry, they narrowed down the search to Kerala. Names like Kavya Madhavan, Navya Nair and Geetu Mohandas cropped up.
"We saw pictures of Geetu Mohandas in a magazine and liked them," says Mouli. Her background tilted the choice in her favour. "We were told she is an NRI from Canada. She could also speak some Tamil and we decided to cast her."
Recommendation also came from actor Jayaram with whom Geetu acted in the award-winning Sesham.
When they contacted her father Dr Mohandas in Canada, he said, "she [Geetu] would definitely jump at an offer from Kamal Haasan. She was quite excited about the role," says a relieved Mouli.
Geetu Mohandas' entry into films was as a three year old in the mid-eighties film Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare. She won raves for her role as a little girl who kept dialing a telephone to talk to her father whom she had just lost, and who later befriends a man (Mohanlal) on parole.
But Geetu disappeared from the scene when her father migrated to Canada.
She returned 16 years to act opposite Mohanlal, whom she calls Telephone Uncle, in her first film as his sister-in-law who was madly in love with him. A few frivolous films followed, after which she established herself as a serious artiste in Jayaraj's Kannagi and Rajeev Kumar's Sesham.
Geetu is also scripting the screenplay for a film to be directed by French director Alexander Samar.