Ramya Krishnan’s looks belie her age. She’s full of grace and charm. Among the few senior actresses to be successful in all four South Indian languages, even after all these years, she comes across as a classic beauty on the silver screen. Here, she responds to questions about Baahubali, the state of her career, and how she chooses films:
What drew you to Sivagami (her character in Baahubali)?
She’s not an ordinary woman. She’s fierce, independent and a warrior with both good and bad sides to her character. Filmmakers don’t approach me with such characters often. When I heard the narration, I got goosebumps. Rajamouli sir brought the entire film before my eyes. After some time, I couldn’t see Sivagami; I saw only myself. In particular, there’s this flashback portion where I come with the child, kill a person and sit on the throne. I fell in love with the way it was presented. Before Padayappa, you were one of many actresses. After it, you became a phenomenon.
Would you say Sivagami is stronger than Neelambari?
(Laughs) You can’t compare both. They are each strong in their own right. When I was offered Neelambari, I just did it. I didn’t think much. That’s because one, there was Rajinikanth in the film; two, at that time, no heroine was ready to do the role. Little did I imagine that it would give me so much recognition.
Which of the two characters is closer to your heart though?
When I did Padayappa, I was just another actress, as you said. I gave it a shot because I thought that as a performer, it would take me to the next level. Baahubali isn’t like that. I was totally at ease and enjoyed being Sivagami. Once the makeup was on, it was easy to become Sivagami. When I was travelling abroad, I had many come up to me and recognise me as Sivagami! It felt great.
I remember that famous scene in the first film, where you are under water, and hold the baby up? Are there any epic scenes in the second film that compare?
(Smiles) You probably know this already but I can’t discuss anything right now. I’ll tell you this: Baahubali: The Conclusion will have more drama than the first film.
There’s a lot of drama in the interactions between my character and Devasena’s (played by Anushka).
How was it to dub for both Tamil and Telugu?
I had to work really hard on the dialogues, especially in Telugu, as the language used in the film is very pure. I found Tamil a lot easier in comparison.
What has it been like to transition from being a heroine to a character artiste? How has the industry changed?
I always try and stay true to the character I’m playing. When I do something, I give my best. Contemporary actresses seem to know a lot by the time they do their first movie. In my case though, I learned things slowly. As for the film industry, trends keep changing and that keeps the process interesting. I internalise my character and perform as the director wants me to.
Do you occasionally miss being a heroine?
Not at all. I think it’s a great time to be a character artiste. I’ve got more than what I asked for. I think I have been rather successful. Factors such as good timing and fortune have a bearing on success. I just try to enjoy every moment without any regrets.
How do you choose your films?
Sometimes, I choose them to be remembered. Some other times, the script is so impressive. I also select films for the character I play in them! When I was a heroine though, I chose projects based on how many songs I was in and the number of scenes I had with the hero (Laughs). Now, it has all changed.
I feel actors should be open to any role that is offered, irrespective of how long or short it is.
Your character in Padayappa was thought to be rather progressive. Do you see such stories being written today?
There was a time when entire stories were woven around the female protagonist. Then, it changed. Right now, I think it’s again getting better; there’s a definite shift happening. Among the films you are doing is the biggie, Suriya’s Thaana Serndha Kootam. It’s a fun-film. Suriya is extremely talented. Vignesh Shivn knows how to get things done from his actors. He has an excellent sense of storytelling.
Any dream role?
None. Maybe, that’s why I get the best roles (Laughs).