Tamannaah had only two releases last year; one of them of course was Baahubali 2. This year, it’s been quite different for the actor, who says she’s worked a lot. “I have spent almost the whole of 2017 filming. It all started with the Hindi film Khamoshi (simultaneously made in Tamil as Kolaiyuthir Kaalam with Nayanthara) with Prabhudheva sir,” she says. “And then, I began work on Sketch that’s getting released this week.”
She says Sketch is an important film for her. “It’s not like your usual commercial potboiler. I haven’t come across another script with as much soul, despite all the commercial elements in it. It’s realistically shot. Also unusual is how much scope my character has in a commercial film,” she says.
It’s the first time she’s working with Vikram. “I always knew that working with him would be a landmark for me. I have always thought that us working together would signify an achievement of sorts for me,” she says. “In a way, I’m glad I haven’t worked with him earlier, as it is only now that I am prepared and able to contribute to a film featuring him (laughs). We struck a wonderful chord that helped us immerse ourselves into our characters. As an actor, I really admire him. The transformation he underwent for I left me shaken for days.”
On her character, she says, “I play Amuthavalli, a TamBrahm girl who’s a pivotal part of the film. The teaser might indicate a massy entertainer but it is also a film that family audiences will like a lot. The romantic angle at the heart of this story will also be relatable. As the film is set in North Chennai, it will also have a very local vibe.”
The topic invariably veers to the Baahubali franchise, which she recognises as a turning point in her career. “It was a physically demanding film. It has changed how I look at myself as an actor and has even helped me evolve as a person,” says Tamannaah, who found it amusing that some people trolled her for having a small role in the film’s second part. “But what about the substantial role in the first? I always knew how the film would shape up and what everyone’s role would be. So the criticism didn’t matter, but the reactions were entertaining nevertheless (laughs).” Her second film in 2017—Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan—bombed at the box office. “But I know Adhik is a talented filmmaker and I’m sure he’ll bounce back soon.”
The actor is keen on being part of entertainers, as she thinks they offer respite to the average man who comes to a theatre for entertainment. “After a long day, your average viewer wants to watch a film as an escape. Only a commercial film can provide that,” says Tamannaah. Queen (she’s doing the Telugu remake), she thinks, is a perfect example of the sort of film she’s talking about. “It is a well-made commercial film, which has moments that cater to viewers of all kind. It also showed that a commercial film doesn’t always need to have four songs and eight fights.”
Tamannaah anticipates plenty of comparison with the original film that starred Kangana Ranaut. “That’s inevitable. Our version is a lot like the original and we haven’t really diverted from the actual film,” she says. “Queen was made four years ago. So, we have contemporised it a bit. The soul is still the same.” Tamannaah expresses happiness at the heroines chosen for the film’s remake in the other South languages. “When shooting a major schedule in France, I got to meet Kajal, Manjima and Parul (who are doing the Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada versions, respectively). We are all different people; so our approach would be different, and it should result in interesting films.”
She won’t call Queen a ‘female-centric’ film, because she doesn’t quite believe in that label. “I call it a better written part for a woman. Times have changed now and people don’t want to see superficial roles. It’s not about heroes or heroines hereafter, but just about actors.” Tamannaah will also be seen in Bollywood director Kunal Kohli’s (of Fanaa fame) Telugu debut that will co-star Sundeep Kishan. “You can imagine how big the film is going to be considering Kunal who is known for his memorable Hindi films, has now come into the South Indian film market space.” She also has Naa Nuvve with Nandamuri Kalyan Ram.” Her next project with Tamil will be with Udhayanidhi Stalin under Seenu Ramasamy’s direction.
“After Dharma Durai, a lot of people wanted me to do similar films. So I’m happy that Seenu sir thought of me again and has given me even a stronger character than the one I played in Dharma Durai.”