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'I never expected to win the National Award'

April 26, 2014 16:17 IST

'I never expected to win the National Award'

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S Saraswathi/Rediff.com in Chennai

'We were all watching TV when the announcement was made. At first, I did not understand. My parents got so emotional, only then I realised that I had won the National Award.'

Meet 11-year-old National award-winner Baby Sadhana.

Nobody was surprised when Baby Sadhana bagged the National Award for Best Child Artist Award for her brilliant performance as Chellamma in director Ram's Thanga Meenkal

Set against the backdrop of the present day education system in our country, Thanga Meenkal explored the emotional bond between a father and his daughter.

The film also won the National Awards for the Best Tamil Film and Best Lyrics for Na. Muthu Kumar for the song Ananda Yaazhai.

Sadhana captivated audiences with her impish grin, wide innocent eyes filled with wonder, and a maturity far beyond her age; she was only eight when she started working in the film.

She will be 12 in July and has already decided that she wants to be a film director like her favourite Uncle Ram, who she says is her greatest inspiration.

In this interview with Rediff.com's S Saraswathi, Sadhana shares her joy at being selected for the prestigious award and also relives some past memories.

Congratulations. How does it feel?

Thank you so much. I feel very happy, excited actually. I still cannot believe that I have won the National Award.

My mom and dad both started crying when they first heard the news. It was unbelievable.  

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Image: Baby Sadhana in Thanga Meenkal

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'Over 150 children were auditioned for the role and rejected'

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You received so much praise for your performance when the film released.  Did you think you would win the National Award?

I never expected to win this award. 

People did tell me that I have given a good performance and had the chance of winning the National Award but I never took them seriously.

We were all watching TV when the announcement was made. At first, I did not understand. My parents got so emotional, only then I realised that I had won the National Award. 

You are presently studying in Dubai. How did you get this opportunity?

I was born in Dubai and spent the first few years of my life here. When I was in UKG, my family shifted to Chennai. We stayed in Chennai for almost six years before moving back to Dubai in April last year.

It was during this period in Chennai that I got an opportunity to work in Thanga Meenkal.

Did you audition for the role?

My mom is a professional dance teacher, who has been teaching Bharata Natyam for years. While in Chennai, she used to take classes at the Russian Cultural Centre. 

It was here that I first met Ram uncle, who believed that I would suit the role and should audition for it.

Later, after several auditions, he decided that I would be his Chellamma.

Before me, over 150 children were auditioned for the role and rejected. In fact, I was the 157th child to be auditioned.


Image: Baby Sadhana and Ram in Thanga Meenkal

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'Ram uncle made me laugh all the time'

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Since you spent your early childhood in Dubai, are you fluent in Tamil?

I speak fluent Tamil. We are Tamil Brahmins. 

Actually, for a few months after the shoot, I got so used to speaking Tamil in the distinct Nagercoil dialect that I forgot the Tam Brahm style that we speak at home!

What scene did you enjoy shooting the most?

I enjoyed every scene I acted with Ram uncle.  He may look serious, but he is such a jolly and jovial person.  He made me laugh all the time. 

And the most difficult one?

There is this one scene in the film where my mother has to beat me.  She (the actress who played the role) found this very difficult as she was very fond of me.

She was actually struggling with the scene, but Ram uncle insisted that she go ahead and beat me. We had to take seven takes for this one shot, it was really difficult.


Image: Baby Sadhana and Ram in Thanga Meenkal

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'My friends are so proud of me'

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Your hard work seems to have paid off big time.

It was not only me, but the hard work of the entire team of Thanga Meenkal that made the film a huge success. 

Did you have to miss school during the shoot?

I did miss a lot of lessons, but the school was extremely supportive.  They provided me with worksheets and notes and my mother made sure that I did my studies on the days we did not have to shoot.

How did your friends treat you after the film released?

The film released in August last year and by then I had already left the school. 

I went back to meet them when I returned for the audio and film release. They are so proud of me. I felt a little awkward at all the praise.


Image: Baby Sadhana and Ram in Thanga Meenkal

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'I want to become a film director when I grow up'

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Do you like school or are you like your character, Chellamma?

I am good in my studies and do my lessons.  But to be honest, I am not very fond of school.

I felt like that even before playing Chellamma, and feel it even more strongly now.

Did you get offers to work in other films?

I did get a couple of offers, but for now I am concentrating on my studies. 

Do you have plans to pursue an acting career?

Actually, I am more interested in directing. Uncle Ram is a huge inspiration. 

I want to become a film director when I grow up.

 

 


Image: Baby Sadhana and Ram in Thanga Meenkal

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