Karthika is making her small-screen debut with Aarambh, the mega series directed by Bollywood filmmaker Goldie Behl, which will be aired from June 24. In this historical fantasy penned by K V Vijayendra Prasad, the scenarist of the Baahubali franchise, she plays Devasena. “But the similarities stop there. Devasena in Baahubali is in a male-dominated kingdom, but my character belongs to a matriarchal society. The queen is the ruler here, and when she dies, the throne goes to the princess, not the prince,” she explains.
Playing this character meant a lot of hard training for Karthika. “If it’s a movie, your action sequences will be over in a few weeks. But here, I am doing it every other day and the effort involved is on a different level. I had to go through long sessions of harness training, horse riding and sword fighting,” she adds.
Unlike conventional princesses, Devasena wears her armour and wields her weapon like a seasoned soldier. Karthika says, “There was no point of reference, and so, I had the freedom to interpret Devasena the way I wanted.”
“She is a warrior princess, so she cannot wear all the finery usually associated with royalty. My costumes were designed to keep me comfortable while doing some extreme stunts. So far, I have had just one chance to look like a traditional princess, the coronation ceremony in which I appear all decked up in a pink outfit,” she smiles.
Aarambh is built on the historic clash between two civilisations – the Aryan and Dravidian empires. Paired opposite Karthika is Rajneesh Duggal, who plays Varun Dev, the Aryan prince and her main rival in the series. Karthika says Aarambh is a completely fictional world. The series was originally conceived as a movie, but since the script was so vast, the makers opted for a television series.
Roja-star Madhoo is also making her small screen debut with this series. “There are plenty of Bollywood actors making their TV debut with this series,” says Karthika, who still doesn’t know how the Bollywood director found her. “My guess is since the role is of a Dravidian princess, he wanted an actress from the South.”