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Veteran dancer Leela Samson's take on working in Mani Ratnam's OK Kanmani

''Mani Ratnam and PC Sreeram construct a world for you''

Apr 21, 2015

Leela Samson, renowned dancer, former Director of Kalakshetra and Chairperson of Central Board of Film certification acquires one more endearing name - Bhavani Aunty of OK Kanmani. She speaks to behindwoods.com on how the offer came to her, Mani Ratnam and his team.


You have been in a different creative medium. What made you take up the role of Bhavani aunty in OK Kanmani?


I got a call from Mani sir one day and he was casually talking about Besant Theosophical School. He offhandedly narrated a story and asked how I liked the character Bhavani in it. It appealed to me and I echoed his thoughts on highlighting the problems of someone suffering from Alzheimer. He asked if I wanted to try the role of Bhavani. I had never acted and also I am not that fluent in Tamil. He said those aspects can be taken care of. He also gave few lines and asked me to mug them up and the next morning, did the camera test in his office. The very next day I got a call from his office saying I had passed the test and was asked if I could do the film.


That was when I had given up my other commitments and was much relieved. I felt like doing something different and when someone like Mani Ratnam asks me I did not feel like turning it down because in our field we never turn down our Guru. All though he is younger than me, I can say he is a Master in his craft. I was also excited as I felt there was so much prejudice in the dance world towards cinema. They felt that they were abusing the form and not showing it in the proper light like in the older times. I wanted to have an understanding of the world of cinema and I said YES to the project.


It was a risk for me as at the height of my career I don’t have to get into something that is not my forte. Of course, I did not think of it that way! I looked at it as an opportunity to discover something at this point of my life. I love to learn any time and am more interested in walking down the path in which I can explore about myself and also about the world. It is important to get out of your comfort zone to travel around a little.  I am grateful for the opportunity


PC Sreeram and Mani Ratnam


PC Sreeram and Mani Ratnam sir were amazing. I am able to appreciate their eye for details because I come from the same world of detailing. It is very important to look at everything as a composite whole, not only feelings, not only dialogues but every book at the background, every table and every small entity in the frame. PC Sreeram and Mani Ratnam construct a world for you with their camera angles and space. It was a lovely experience and a big learning curve for me.


Prakash Raj


I am in awe of him. He is such a smooth and a great actor. I have seen some of his films and I have always liked his baritone. On the sets, he was so cool with his delivery and knew exactly what to do.


Mani Ratnam and team


Everybody on the set respected me and never let me feel out of place. They were very welcoming. I loved Mani Ratnam sir’s team which is young and hard working. It was like a family and we all worked together as a family from the light man to Mani sir.


Dulquer and Nithya


They were two amazing, lovely young people and it was a joy to work with them.


Response and feedback


Everyone loves the film and also my role. I am getting good responses from people. I thank everybody for this wonderful opportunity.



Veteran dancer Leela Samson's take on working in Mani Ratnam's OK Kanmani

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