True beauty and vibrant spirit escalate with time. Gautami stands as a testimony to this. Even during her earlier days in films, she was a definite standout, say it in her charm or her acting or her dressing sense. Her battle against cancer, speaks much about her strong spirit and courage. Owing to her unquenchable interest in fashion, she is now a thriving costume designer and she is back to acting with Papanasam. The interview starts in the Ulaganayagan caravan with Abishek Raaja... Just tell us who Kamal Haasan is? There can never be an answer for who and what he is because you can define a thing only if you know the fixed parameters. But with regard to him there is no such parameters; the core of who he is can be described but he can’t be defined, because he is constantly observing, learning, evolving, that’s the basic quality of a human being. Human beings have to constantly keep evolving and he is relentless in that pursuit. And he is a great inspiration for me. Let’s not call it chemistry, let’s put it in this way, Kamal sir and you as a pair worked well on-screen? You have the answer in your question. We WORKED WELL together on-screen. I have done almost 120 movies in 5 languages; I have also watched lots of movies and also developed the ability to analyze those movies now. Having known all these, I see Kamal as one of the best writer-directors. He is probably one among the best screenplay writers in the world. Screenplay, structure, layering, dialogue and mise-en-scene - he is the best in everything and I have not found anyone like him. I can say that because I have worked a lot with him. In Thevar Magan, he was a fantastic writer and co-actor; very unselfish, very supportive and for him it’s always about the scene and the film and not his part. After Sasanam, its Papanasam, We have missed you on-screen for 9 long years. How is it being back? I love it, I love it, I love it (She exclaims)... When Papanasam started I didn’t have any doubts on my performance but it was only about my looks and I have driven them mad on the sets with all sorts of questions – Am I looking okay? Am I looking alright? Is my face odd? There is always a lot of difference when you see yourself on-screen and off-screen in terms of size and various other perspectives; so whichever way it was, I was only trying to understand but otherwise I FELT GOOD. I was just happy to be back. My happiness is my set; and when I am given an exemplary character then what more can I expect? HAPPINESS... Let’s draw a comparison. Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan as artists and co-stars? Mohanlal has proved many times with his incredible acting. I did His Highness Abdullah and later Iruvar with him. Both were amazing experiences, especially His Highness Abdullah. It was my first Malayalam movie and in many ways it was a special film for me. I feel very happy and touched when even now people from Kerala express their love for the movie and my character. Kamal sir is different. And I’m not just considering the 12 years I have been with him. He has always been in a different level, a different pedestal and a different platform. After Kurudipunal, I met him in 2003. With him, what you see is what you get. In reality, many people are actually something else inside, while they project themselves differently. But what I have really seen in him is that he is who he is, that’s it. He never fakes. You comprehend the costumes and the costumes comprehended you. Tell us about the costume designer in you? To be honest, I learnt make-up, acting and even costume designing from various artists. My opinion would be, everybody as an artist should have a clear vision of their do’s and don’ts. The don'ts are sometimes far more valuable than the do’s. This vision of learning drew a line between right and wrong eventually. It all fell into place when I got a chance for Dasavatharam as costume designer. There was a long gap between my last movie and Dasavatharam, when I did a lot of growing up. It’s easy to give a list of dresses for each actor but at the end of the day it should serve the purpose. The costumes should complement the larger picture and the performances and that is where my focus always stays. Clothes, color, fabric and texture must enhance the characters. How much thought has gone into the costumes for Thoongavanam? You are all going to see Kamal in a never-before-done character. But, I would like to talk about Trisha’s look and I personally feel she is the coolest actress in the industry, in terms of her attitude and professionalism. So I tried a contrasting look for Trisha setting aside her usual one. At first, she was worried about it and she had plenty of queries to get a clear picture of it. I said, ‘Trust me... let’s try it... If this doesn’t work out we shall think of something new’. After the trial, she was awed by the look and then she was like, “let’s do it”. I am putting this forward as many do not try to present themselves in an offbeat look. But you need to change, explore and enjoy the transitions. Sadly, many are not open-minded enough to reinvent something contrasting from their usual looks. But I think people should stop being so cautious and be more daring and confident to venture into a few unchartered territories. BITS AND PIECES Kamal at Home Casual, relaxed, comfortable and chilled out. He loves to play with his dogs, sing, read a lot, discuss movies and joke around. Being an actress I can’t think of any other way to live my life. I don’t think I would be happier doing any other job but acting. Papanasam Nothing would look staged; it’s all realistic and natural. Niveda and Esther Both were thorough professionals, pleasant and down-to-earth kids. On calling you as Kamal’s muse! I would be happy if he says that but for now, I won’t presume that. Would you continue to act? Definitely I would love to... (All Directors out there please note!)