Marriage makes no difference to candid Samantha

By A Harsha Vardhan Published on May 06, 2018 12:41 AM IST

File photo of Samantha.

Who said marriage is the end of the road for a heroine? Samantha Akkineni is disproving the popular notion with at least five more movies lined up for release this year.

Sporting a chic new hairstyle for the Tamil remake of Kannada film U Turn, Samantha says that her career has picked up pace post her wedding to Naga Chaitanya.

She says she has a list of don’ts: I don’t want to follow rules. I don’t want to be told how I should conduct my life. I don’t want to be scared and I don't want to fulfil other people's expectations of me. I don't want to fall into the trap where I have to keep giving people what they want.

News Today caught up with the busy actress who is in the city for the 11 May release of her film, Irumbu Thirai, opposite Vishal.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Q: Tell us about Irumbu Thirai.

A: The movie deals with information theft and will create awareness among the people, but in a commercial and non-preachy way. Director Mithran has made the movie with conviction and it doesn't feel like it's his first film. I've never had so much faith in a new director, as I've had with Mithran. I play a smart heroine, Rathi Devi, in the film. The character is a breakaway from the usual hyper bubbly and chirpy roles that I play.

Q: How was it working with Vishal compared to other heroes?

A: Vishal is a brat on the sets. In the last few films, I worked with industry seniors like Suriya and Vijay in Tamil and Mahesh and Junior NTR in Telugu. But with Vishal, it felt as if I was the elder one and more mature person. It was great fun working with him.

Q: After your marriage, Rangasthalam was a big hit and now you have two films releasing the same week. How do you feel?

A: I understand how big it is to break the heroine-after-marriage tag. But I feel this is not enough. I need to continuously churn out hits in 5-6 films to change the mentality that married heroines cannot act in films. I want to set precedence for future actresses that there is a career in cinema for you, as a heroine, even after marriage.

Q: Do you think it will work?

A: Anushka Sharma got married and Sonam Kapoor is going to, and they are still big names. I know Bollywood is different, but, the fact is Rangasthalam which released after my marriage was a hit. No harm came to the film because of my marriage. If I continue to do good roles with a chance to make a mark, I don't think anyone can ignore me.

Q: The kissing scene in Rangasthalam created a huge controversy. How do you deal with such criticism?

A: Married heroes are not asked this question. Only heroines are. When, people in Twitter were being abusive, my father-in-law (Nagarjuna) just brushed it away, saying, 'Samantha odhuley' (brush it off, Samantha). My family was supportive and understanding than most modern homes. That is how I go to work without having the fear of controversy or doubts at the back of my mind. Naga (Chaitanya) supports the idea that a married heroine can be successful. The best piece of advice he gave me was to treat this as a job.

Q: What type of movies are you looking for in the future?

A: I'm looking for films with strong content and not just be a heroine. In Mahanadi, I did not do the title role. But, it was a role I connected with. I'm not focussing on being in the poster or being in all five songs of the films.

Q: But, you do not do many heroine-oriented roles like Nayanthara or Anushka.

A: In U Turn, I play a journalist and it's a heroine-oriented film. I've done more performance-oriented films in Telugu than in Tamil. I hope that will change in the future. But, very few directors write from a girl's point of view and most female characters are written on the basis of a male's assumption of a woman.

Q: What do you have to say about the recent rape cases in the north?

A: I think the government has taken the first step by deciding to hang child sex abusers. It must be made for all rapists. Other countries have even more brutal punishments, so it should be the same way for us.

Q: What do you have to say about the casting couch scandal rocking Telugu cinema?

A: The bigger question is, is sexual abuse limited to Telugu industry or just cinema? It exists in all industries and all workplaces. I have worked in the cinema for eight years and there are a few black sheep here. But, there are more good-hearted, honest and beautiful people here than bad people. So, to identify the black sheep, we are starting a forum for grievances so that nobody is fearful anymore. It is a step in the right direction and like in corporates, we need to enforce more stringent rules in cinema as well.