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'Playing the character of Kamala Rani was emotionally draining'

April 01, 2014 09:13 IST

'Playing the character of Kamala Rani was emotionally draining'

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Archana has been part of the Telugu film industry for quite a while now. She has also acted in Tamil and Kannada films.

She played the lead role of a prostitute, Kamala Rani, in the recently-released Telugu film Kamalatho Naa Prayanam directed by National and Nandi award-winning director Narasimha Nandi.

The film was critically acclaimed. “We thought it was a film for the class and multiplex audience but the mass audience too liked it. Word of mouth publicity has helped the film,’’ says a happy Archana. 

In this exclusive interview, Archana describes how tough it was shoot a film in the rain, portray Kamala, do bold scenes in the film and also her future projects including a film with superstar Mohanlal.

Why did you choose to play the role of Kamala Rani?

I think I have a different mindset. I want to do something that will give me a high.

The director gave me a small thread and then he gave me a bound script in Telugu.

I think it was the way he wrote it. I fell in love with the language. The kind of Telugu he used to express my character also gave me confidence. I knew it would be projected well artistically.

I loved the character. She is in a profession where there is exploitation, but she doesn’t lose hope. She’s vulnerable and innocent.

What excited me were the many shades to the character.


Image: Archana in Kamalatho Naa Prayanam


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'I am not a good reader of Telugu'

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You said you got a bound script. Was it in Telugu?

Yes. I am not a good reader of Telugu. My mom read the script out for me.

Did you read Tilak’s Vuru Chivuru Illu on which this story is based?

I’m so glad I did not. I took this as a totally new thought.

The director likes to read a lot of Telugu so he has written the dialogues beautifully.

The film is set in the 1950s. You are required to have a certain mindset and body language to play the role…How did you prepare for it?

I put myself in a situation and feel it. I am spontaneous and react in a situation.

She (Kamla Rani) was a prostitute, and she had to show how, though she had experienced a lot, Suryanarayana (played by Sivaji) was different for her. It had to be presented in a convincing manner.

I was hoping there would be no bold scenes but finally there were.

I had complete faith in Narasimha Nandi and since he was an award winning director, he could not make bad films. I had seen his earlier film 1940 lo Oka Gramam.

For Kamala, I had to remember the black and white film heroines. The reference was to Savitri or Jamuna who looked sensuous without any skin show.


Image: A scene from Kamalatho Naa Prayanam


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'The real Archana is bold and strong and not that soft and delicate'

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Were you comfortable doing the intimate scenes?

My director and co-actor Sivaji gave me the assurance and comfort to do the scenes.

Since Sivaji has years of experience, he was extremely understanding and helpful while doing these scenes.

The film had some chaste Telugu dialogues, different from what is heard in today’s films…

It was challenging and tough. Being a Telugu girl, I found the words beautiful and did not want to kill the beauty.

Thankfully, I was able to speak good Telugu. The director was helpful in monitoring the dialogues.

I had to speak at a lower pitch, slow down and calm down. The real Archana is bold and strong and not that soft and delicate.

It must have been difficult to shoot in the rain....

I enjoy getting drenched in the rain, but after experiencing it in the shoot, it was scary. Luckily, I didn’t fall sick.

I prayed to Lord Shiva to help. While shooting for the climax, it was cold and raining. And I was always in the rain.

I pushed myself a lot. The rain enhanced the emotions greatly. I also ate things which induced heat in the body.


Image: A scene from Kamalatho Naa Prayanam


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'Even the mass audience has watched and liked this film'

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How was Sivaji as a co-star?

He was extremely supportive. It shows the quality of a man to let a woman play a strong role and be unperturbed.

He had a great sense of maturity. It was very helpful.

Did you have any lessons to take home from Narasimha Nandi?

He writes well. He feeds on Telugu literature. There was no pressure even when doing the most intense scenes.

I love the way he makes his films. He adds soul to the films, adds intensity to the characters.

He was very helpful in my dubbing the lines and I did so with confidence.

Were you attached to Kamala Rani’s character?

I was, and I was attached to this film too. I was waiting for such a script.

I have managed to survive in the industry for so long, but I needed a script to take me to the next level.

Even the mass audience has watched and liked this film.

Was doing the character a draining experience for you emotionally?

Kamala Rani was inside me for long. I have begun to let go now.

Doing it was emotionally draining. I used to feel the depression doing the scenes in the second half.


Image: A scene from Kamalatho Naa Prayanam


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'It has not been an easy journey for me'

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What films are you working on?

I have done the Kannada film Mythri with Mohanlal.

I was very fortunate to dance and act to Ilaiyaraja’s tunes.

I have done Shankara in Tamil and my Telugu film Panchami is likely to release in April.

What was it like working with Mohanlal?

It was a nice experience. He is spontaneous, calm and always smiling.

He is a huge star but he comes like a small child on the sets.

There are no tantrums. He gives simple suggestions about food and yoga.

How has your journey in cinema been?

I am a very positive person. It has not been an easy journey.

People love me because I am a Telugu girl. I want the industry people to watch Kamalatho Naa Prayanam and take their call.

My struggle was to do quality films. It took me a while. There was no one to guide me. I learnt it my way. 

I have done mainly intense films and have not done an out-and-out masala film. 


Image: A scene from Kamalatho Naa Prayanam


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