After Eli in 2015, which sort of marked her comeback to Tamil cinema, Sadha has again made a comeback with last week’s Torchlight. “These gaps are unintentional,” she says. “I got busy with Telugu reality shows for three years, and was judging Jodi No 1. I also wasn’t happy with the films I was getting. I’m glad Torchlight happened.”
Sadha, who plays a sex worker in the film, admits she was initially sceptical about the project. “I took my time to sign it. But after listening to the script three times, I decided not to let it go. Though I found the subject very touching, I wasn’t sure how they’d execute the vision. That’s when the director (Abdul Majith of Tamizhan fame) sent me some video references. After that, I was convinced that the film would be hard-hitting.” The actor apparently also had some concerns about working with a new team. “But in this case, Majith sir is also the producer. From the way he worked, I realised that he didn’t look at this film as a means to make money. He was emotionally attached to it.”
Torchlight, she believes, stands out among other women-centric films. “There have been a few films about women in recent times, with most of them being in the horror genre. In fact, I’ve done a fair share of them myself in Telugu and didn’t want to do it again. So this was a refreshing change.”
At first, Sadha found the going hard when shooting began. “As a script, I loved it, but when I had to say a few lines, I was in a state of shock. Every single time, I had to forget about myself and remember that I was Nila (her character in the film),” she says, adding that she was often left fighting tears during filming on account of the subject. Torchlight is set in the 90s and that’s for a reason, she says.
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH SADHA
“The concept of using torch lights to signal truck drivers in the highway was prevalent back then. Nowadays, highways are four-laned and it was hard for us to find the sort of roads we needed to shoot in. We had to travel to interior locations and this was quite challenging. The make-up also required a lot of work as sex workers in those days coloured their lips using cigarette butts.” Sadha feels that such research justifies the ‘based on a true story’ tagline the film carries.
She also adds that despite the 87 cuts by the censor board, the film will feel complete. “The adult certificate is because of the hard-hitting dialogues. In a way, I was like a censor official myself as the director had to first convince me to do certain scenes (laughs). I was very clear that the scenes should not look cheap or sleazy.”
The actor, who debuted with the 2002 Telugu film, Jayam, says her 15-year journey has been wonderful. “I have had my share of ups and downs; it’s been a roller coaster ride. Even today, it’s encouraging to have people tell me that they want to see me more in films. I think I may have made the most number of comebacks,” she says, laughing. Sadha is presently discussing two films, both of which will be women-centric, she concludes.