The action queen of Kannada cinema
Kannada cinema's reigning action queen Malashree, also known to her fans as 'dream girl' during her heyday, is perhaps the only action heroine in the country whose films run on the strength of her name.
Malashree became a phenomenon in Kannada cinema in the late 1980s and early 1990s for the variety of roles she played and the manner in which she carried her films entirely on her shoulders.
Her tryst with action films began with the Kannada film SP Bhargavi that first portrayed her as an 'action heroine'.
Malshree is currently working on finishing two films – Election and Gharshane. She plays the role of an election commissioner in the former. She has only acted in films under her own banner Ramu Enterprises run by her producer-distributor husband Ramu. Gharshane is an exception. For the first time in 13 years she is acting in a film produced outside her home banner.
Malashree's latest film Veera, in which she plays the role of a don, released on Friday, March 29, across Karnataka.
In this interview, Malashree, who is also a mother of two children, talks about the film Veera and her action queen image.
As an actress, what was special about Veera?
For the first time, I played the role of a mafia don. I have worn a sari in Iyengar style for the first time in so many years. I don't remember when I last wore a sari in a movie.
I also could play a nun, a Sikh woman and a harbour captain. When it comes to performance, it is a different experience for me to act like a villain. I have not compromised on the action sequences which were really tough.
'I am not thinking of doing any award-winning characters'
Why did you change your usual role of a daredevil cop?
We wanted to see if this kind of a change of character would work. I was confident that audiences and my fans would accept me in this avatar.
When director Aiyappa Sharma came up with this idea, we got quite kicked with this negative shade to my role.
Having achieved so much in action roles, have you been offered mother roles or other important supporting roles?
I have not been offered any such roles. I don't think any director would come to me with such roles as they know that I have a hero's market. Nobody has ever imagined seeing me in such supporting roles.
I am not thinking of doing any supporting roles or award-winning characters because the greatest award that I have got is the one from the audiences who patronise my films.
I have not thought about doing offbeat roles. I will stick to the commercial market because I have a good market and I still feel that I am not that old to get into such senior roles.
'Some of my fans still want to see me in action roles'
Don't you feel like going back to your heyday when you got to play a variety of roles? How do you look back at that phase?
Yes, people still recognise me by some of my earlier films. They think of me as a tomboy, a sacrificing wife, a shrew and a fighter.
Some of my fans still want to see me in action roles. They don't even know that I am married and that I am raising two kids at home.
How do you feel when people say that you are the only action heroine in the country?
I take pride in it. I got to play so much variety in the space that I am working in.
Telugu actress Vijayashanti was the trendsetter as she began playing action roles. But, she stopped doing such roles after a while. However, I continued and went ahead of her in taking up a lot more variety.
Image: A scene from Veera
'I am extremely confident about my abilities'
Recently, you created a stir in political circles when you went to meet former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. Do you intend to get into politics?
I had just gone to invite Yeddyurappa for a film function. I don't know how that meeting turned out to be so speculative.
I have no intention whatsoever of getting into politics because I am a novice in that field.
How do you maintain such fitness and agility?
I have been quite energetic for a long time. I don't sit and relax as such. But, when I took a break, I really took it easy. I ate a lot and enjoyed myself.
When I thought of a comeback, I got back to my exercise regimen and workouts. I achieve what I want. I have really worked hard to maintain myself especially after having children.
I am extremely confident about my abilities. I worked on my body language and that has worked to my advantage. In fact, my mother used to tell me that I walk like a man although I was born a girl.