Before the release of Ulkuthu last week, it had been a while since we saw Nandita Swetha on screen. She’s still remembered by many for playing a half-saree clad character in her debut film, Attakathi. “People have been saying that they have missed seeing that Nandita both onscreen and offscreen. That absence has even pushed some to ask me if I am making myself look ‘polished’ on screen to avoid getting offered such roles. But if you know who I really am, you would know the assessment is all wrong.
I have always been this way. It is just that people have become accustomed to seeing me as a homely girl in films.” Was the lengthy gap to break out of getting typecast? “I guess it was lucky in that sense, yes. A script like Ulkuthu also helps, as there isn’t too much emphasis on my getting a makeover.”
The actor plays a Nagercoil sales girl in the film. “It is your usual film, sure, but instead of only having the revenge factor, it also has family drama, love and what I think is the film’s USP, its fight sequences.” Elaborating on them, she says, “The stunts have been choreographed and executed by Dhilip Subbarayan master who, incidentally, has also acted in the film. The fight sequences — in fact, large portions of the film itself — were shot in the harbour. One awesome fight scene involves kabaddi.” She says this almost in a tone of longing. She laughs. “It has been so well shot that I wished I were a part of it. I used to play kabaddi in school too.”
She points out that an upcoming film of hers has partly satiated her thirst for action roles. “I’ll be playing a boxer in it,” she says. “I am also happy about my characters in my other two upcoming films, Nenjam Marapathillai and Vanangamudi.” She plays a cop in the latter. “I have my own investigation team. It is a serious film that is about all these different cases and how they get investigated,” she says. “But the beauty of the film lies in how each team solves the case differently. This film also has my first-ever solo dance performance. I am excited to see how the audience reacts to that.”
She says she didn’t quite get to speaking with Arvind Swami too much on the sets of the film. “Owing to how serious the film’s subject is, there was hardly any time for us to just sit and chit-chat. We were almost always trying to get into the skin of our respective characters and were reading out dialogues. I have another schedule of shooting left; so who knows? Maybe we may just find enough time to have a chat or two.”
While her 2016 Telugu film, Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada, was a big hit in Telugu, she hasn’t since done any notable work there. “Given how well that film did, people have been writing to me, asking me to do another similarly power-packed, important role. I’ve been waiting for such roles, and finally, now, I have signed three Telugu films, one of which is a remake of Sathurangavettai.”
She is quick to express loyalty towards the Tamil industry for making her popular enough to be approached by directors of other industries. Diplomacy, it seems, is one of several areas she has learned a bit of, over the years. She laughs: “I’ve also learned not to get disappointed over anything. Nobody is worth it,” she says. “I overthink, when it comes to taking on projects. I have done 17 films so far, but could have easily done at least a hundred by now if I didn’t overthink.
I visualise the film as something that flows seamlessly without a snag and if I feel at any point that the narrative doesn’t flow well, I don’t sign up for it.” So, what are her plans for 2018? “Well, without any expectation or setting myself any targets, I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of experienced directors. I hope the same happens this year too.”