It is widely believed now that Rangasthalam could well be Samantha’s best work in recent times; it is definitely her most successful. And it’s heartwarming that she has, with this success, broken the usual myths surrounding audience reception to married actors. In this frank conversation, she tackles various topics including the unexpected resounding success, the insistence of the director that she look unattractive for the role, and her desire for variety in performance.
I knew that Rangasthalam would definitely turn out to be a good film, but I hardly expected such success. I have been amazed by the reception it has drawn.
Had such a film been released some five years ago, I don’t think it would have received such appreciation. The audience preferences have clearly changed and this film’s success proves again that content is king!
When Sukumar narrated the script to me, I was in two minds about playing the character, Rama Lakshmi. I’d never been to a village before, and I was not sure if I could do it. But all my inhibitions were put to rest when we began shooting for the film. Also, I think of myself to be a risk-taker and I’m always game for challenging roles. Before every shot, Sukumar would tell me that I needed to look ugly for the character. At first, I was surprised to hear him say that. Eventually, I realised that it’s all for the role. I have learned a lot about myself through the film. For instance, I never knew I could make ugly faces, or say, twist my mouth as I do in the film (laughs). I learned a lot from my mentor, Gautham Menon, but I think it is Sukumar who has got the best of me.
I never shared any details about Rangasthalam with Chaitu (her husband, actor Naga Chaitanya). After the first look poster was released, he expressed shock at the transformation I’d undergone. He was even a bit anxious, I can say, but after watching the film, he became fond of my character.
Ram Charan is a lovely co-star. When we were working under the scorching sun near Godavari, he helped make me feel comfortable on the sets. We braved extreme weather conditions and despite all those challenges, the team had an absolutely great time on the sets. You may have seen many films where the protagonist taunts or teases the leading lady, but it’s the other way round in Rangasthalam. It would have been difficult to do those scenes without his support.
A lot of prejudices exist about the career of married actresses. When I got married to Chaitu, many directors and producers thought I’d signalled the end of my career and that I wouldn’t work in films. But frankly, the audience doesn’t care about these things. They want to see a good actor doing all kinds of roles. As a professional actor, I can tell you marriage hasn’t changed my desire to do good work. Till now, I have stuck to doing films that have come my way. I let my work speak for itself and the mammoth success of Rangasthalam proves a point. I’m really happy to break myths about married women with this film, and I hope people’s perception towards married actors changes for good.
If something has changed with marriage, it is that I cannot work without a break. I have decided to not to take up any film-related work on Sunday. I prefer to spend that day with my family.
I don’t want to repeat my roles. It’s not like the old days anymore; I want to do films that are meaningful and offer versatility. If Rangasthalam gets remade, I can assure you I won’t be playing Rama Lakshmi again. It’s a magical role I cannot recreate. In fact, I liked her so much that I wanted to dub. However, I couldn’t get a hang of the local Godavari accent and didn’t do it. When Jyothi was dubbing for me, I was around to make sure that she got the emotions right.