Four years ago, actress Kasthuri and her infant child posed for a series of maternal photographs in Jade Beall’s book, ‘A Beautiful Body Project: The Bodies of Mothers’. The photos subsequently went viral on social media, and she initiated legal proceedings against the media house that circulated them without permission. You didn’t hear a whole lot more about this actress, but now, it appears she’s ready to be part of films again. “My daughter is a leukemia survivor. I have been occupied with taking care of her. Now that she’s better, I have time to devote to films. I returned to India just two months ago,” she says.
Kasthuri is part of the Simbu-starrer Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan, in which she plays an investigating officer. “I shot only for two days, and will be seen in both parts. I don’t play a regular cop, and wear some smart outfits,” she adds. The film reminded her of how much she misses being part of cinema. “Once the acting bug bites you, there’s no getting out. I also have a couple of films in Telugu. I don’t have the glamorous image there that the present generation of Tamil movie-goers identify me with. I am always their ‘Akkalamma’ (the role she played in Annamayya),” she says.
Now that she has made herself available for films again, she’s a star in demand again. “I was asked to be a contestant on the Bigg Boss show. I turned down the offer because I can’t bear to be stuck inside a house for 100 days.” She was also subjected to some social media trolling recently, when a photo of hers with Rajinikanth got shared. “I met him on my birthday. We discussed many things.
He’s not as indecisive as people perceive him to be. He’s just holding his cards close to his chest. He’s a cautious player. I got the impression that he’s preparing himself for a stint in politics. He doesn’t want to take a step back once he goes forward. It’s going to be only a matter of time,” she smiles.
While on Rajinikanth, Kasthuri was considered for an important role in Kaala. “But Pa Ranjith eventually told me I am too young. Right now, I am too old to be Vijay’s pair, but I am too young for Rajinikanth.”
Four years ago, she almost took over as programming head for a big news channel, but that didn’t happen. “One week before I signed on the dotted line, I found myself in the hospital with my daughter. There are many such projects I’ve been unable to do due to various reasons—like Devaraagam with Arvind Swami. Also, Ramba’s debut project was offered to me first,” she says. About her stint in Tamil cinema, she also remembers that she did a film called Naanga for director Selva for free. “The director told me he would cast me in his next. I am still waiting for the call,” she smiles.
When she sees films, she spots characters she wishes she’d got. “Like Kajol’s role in Minsara Kanavu. Like Madhoo’s role in Roja. Or how about Ramya Krishnan’s in Baahubali? I’ve only played either glamorous roles or pious ones. I’ve not played the real me in films. And now, I have been approached by a director to play a ghost. Ennayum pei aaka poraanga cinema-la,” she laughs.
She now realises that destiny has had a hand. “Last year, I was all set to be the face of a popular toothpaste brand, but then Vardah happened all of a sudden, and I couldn’t even show up in Mumbai. I got replaced by somebody else. When your time is bad, even your best decisions begin to backfire.”
The actress was an insomniac, and is today able to sleep just for three hours a day. “My face doesn’t seem to be aware of the struggles my body is going through. I’ve had death stare at me at least thrice in my life. What I am today is because of my four friends, who are as important to me as the oxygen I breathe.”
She turns a tad nostalgic and says she rues the passing away of director Bharathan. “I took to films because I fell in love with his work. His Devaraagam was shot in the same location where I was shooting for Amaidhi Padai. I convinced Bharathan to cast me in his next, but he passed away,” she says.
Kasthuri doesn’t want to play a mother on screen. “I am okay playing a mother to, say, a five-year-old. But not to actors like Sivakarthikeyan, Dhanush, and Vijay Sethupathi.
It’s not like those roles are strong anyway,” she says. And it’s unlike her to do something so stereotypical anyway. In 2009, for instance, she returned after a long sabbatical by doing an item number in Thamizh Padam. “Actresses, in general, make their comeback either as mothers or sisters. I thought I should be different and do a ‘sexy kuththu’ song,” she laughs. Does she think she can do it again? “Hey, if Jennifer Lopez can be a bombshell, I can be too. I am not afraid to show it!”