Samantha is undoubtedly among the A-list of heroines down South with the best of films, in Tamil and Telugu. She is not just a pretty face onscreen who woos her audiences, but also a fighter in real life and one with a strongly compassionate side. With a sweet voice and an enthusiastic personality, chatting with Samantha can feel really pleasing, as Kaushik discovers in this quick chat with namma Pallavaram ponnu.
You have been raving about your role in 10 Endrathukulla, of late. What is in it, that makes you feel so gunned up?
I have to thank director Vijay Milton for thinking about me when he came up with this role. It is definitely something that I haven’t done before and I don't think a lot of people would have considered me for such a type of role. It just doesn't have the one blonde, childish, girly shade that you saw in the trailer, and there is much more to it. I can't reveal anything more and you have to see the movie. The wait is almost over.
Since you can’t reveal anything more about the plot, can you elaborate in what way this film is extra special to you?
10 Endrathukulla wasn't just the “go to set, shoot and come back” routine. I have a personal relationship and special connect with this unit. I want the film to work on a personal level. I have seen all the hard work and hardships that this unit has been through, and they have all become dear to me. This journey of about a year has been very close to my heart.
With the film being shot in Nepal, just before the earthquake ravaged the nation, there must be plenty of unforgettable memories right?
We shot in the very same places which were hit badly and stayed in a hotel which was crushed by the earthquake. We were actually supposed to be shooting there at the time of the quake but due to some date issue, our schedule got pushed. It was so shocking to see these places being ransacked after the quake. Nepal is such a calm beautiful place with lovely people, and it is a pity that the country had to go through this.
In 10 Endrathukulla, you seem to have come back to dubbing after Neethane En Ponvasantham ...
Yes, I have taken a conscious decision to dub on my own, for all my Tamil films, going forward. I have dubbed for 10 Endrathukulla and will also do so for Thanga Magan, ‘Vijay 59’, 24 and all my other films. I strongly feel that dubbing on my own would complete my performance and add more authenticity to the emotions. It just doesn't feel right anymore, to take the services of a dubbing artiste to do justice to my performance. I don't know how perfect it would be in this film, but I would tend to improve for sure.
You would dub in Telugu too, then?
(Laughs) Already there is some kind of anglicized accent in my Tamil and I am working against it, during the dubbing. In Telugu, though I learnt the language after going there, the accent would be even more prominent with a splattering of Tamil and English coming in to my Telugu. Directors can't get used to that easily, and it will take some more time.
What can we expect from your glittering upcoming lineup of films such as Vijay 59, 24, Thangamagan (to name a few) ?
After I finished a few of my recent films, the directors told me to be careful with my choice of roles going forward, so that my standards don't dip. Milton said this and Trivikram also said so. Thankfully, each of these upcoming films would have a different look for me, a different character sketch, a strong weighty role, good scope to perform and they would be releasing in back to back months. I just hope that the audiences don't get fed up of seeing me. I am just extremely lucky and have a lot to be grateful.
You seem to have the charm to work back to back with the biggest names in film business, be it stars or directors. Ilayathalapathy, Suriya, Dhanush and the repeat list rolls on …
In cinema, you can get bored of people so easily, as you have to see the same faces every day for an extended amount of time. You can hear someone casually say "Indha heroine oda vela paakave mudiyadhu ya". That being the case, when so many top directors and stars want to work with me again, then I definitely take that with a lot of pride. It means that they must be respecting my craft. I value this a lot and consider it more important than even awards. But you have to get their side of the story too (laughs).
With back to back films in Tamil and Telugu, do you even get some time to breathe free?
(Laughs) My manager was asking me, "Why do you want to take up dubbing now and make it even more strenuous for yourself?". But I just want to enjoy this phase, and make the most of it. There are a lot more talented and beautiful women around, and I am just a handful of lucky women blessed with such amount of quality work. Cinema has become my life and I just don't want to go home. I just love it too much, and it is difficult to let go now.
You are among the few female stars to have such a massive fan following, particularly in the online space. How important are they to you?
I have a closed group of about 25 to 30 fans, mostly Telugu. They have been with me from Day 1, through all my ups and downs, through Pratyusha and also when I was almost about to quit. Their feedback matters a lot to me, I don't think any heroine would have such a strong support system from fans. I meet them regularly, we have lunch, we celebrate birthdays etc. I am just lucky and feel grateful to have them.
Now your career seems to be on the highway to super-success. But you did endure a really hard time a couple of years back, missing out on a lot of plum projects. How did you endure that testing phase?
Right from when I was a little girl, I have seen all kinds of heartbreak, some big highs and very bad lows too. If I hadn't faced such hardships, then I may have become lazy. My life has never been the normal kind, and such lows and ups are part and parcel of my life. I believe every fall has made me stronger. I have faced all these challenges to come back stronger, I feel.