Coming to a full circle: Sudha Chandran back to television serials
Sudha Chandran, who made her debut with a Telugu film, ‘Mayuri’ based on the story of her life, and then went on to rule the roost in Hindi television, especially known for her negative roles and arty ‘bindis’ Ekta Kapoor’s serials, is now back to where it all began. She is acting in a key role in a television serial ‘Number One Kodalu’ on Zee Telugu…
She was shooting at Ramoji Film City for the new serial at the time of this interview and incidentally, her acting career started from here. She shares, "Hyderabad is nostalgic for me. When I first came to the city from Mumbai, to talk about the storyline based on my life, I came with a perception that all the film people were bad, and then I met the director of the film, Singeetam Srinivas and Atluri Rama Rao, such good people, so knowledgeable and educated, total opposite of how I imagined them to be. After speaking to them I went back. They were considering someone else for the role, and I was going to make an appearance in the second half. And then I receive this call asking me to come to act in the film, which was very surprising. What followed was a lot of discussion at home. Being from a Tamil Brahmin family acting was a taboo, but my grandmother (you see her character in the film) supported the idea. She thought there was no harm to working in one film. My father liked the idea that the film will be inspiring many young girls, but my mother was against it. Finally, it was decided that I would act in one film," and the rest is history.
Sudha Chandran reveals she never wanted to be a one-movie wonder. After 'Mayuri', despite her worst fears that with a physical challenge, she may not have a place in the film industry, but she did an act is several Hindi and Tamil films, and after a few years a chance meeting with the czarina of Hindi serials Ekta Kapoor set the future course for her. "I was pursuing education and acting, and after having tasted success. I wanted more the onus of which I put on God. It is he who places people in your life. I met Ekta and began working with Balaji Telefilms. My character was absolutely the opposite of who I am. In 'Kaahin Kissii Roz' I play this industrialist, style icon, and I asked Ekta if she was sure that I must play the antagonist. She said, 'Sudhaji I will speak to you after six months.' I went on to become a big hit, and after two months she came back to me and said, 'You wanted to play the protagonist, and I wanted you to play the antagonist. Today, the antagonist is bigger than the protagonist.' Today, my attitude, my confidence, and never say die approach comes from Ekta."
Being from the south, Sudha always wanted to do something in the south languages. While she had Tamil projects, she was never approached for a Telugu film or serial, not until recently when a message from Zee Telugu asking her if she would be interested in acting in the new serial excited her. "The project is a good one, the channel Zee is a brand I have been so closely associated with, and I am loyal to, and thirdly anyone would die to do this character. Vaagdevi is the soul of 'Number One Kodalu', and it is about the importance of education to empower women," she reveals.
"I relate a lot with the character. She is highly educated and feels suffocated in her village, where her husband is a landlord, and when she wants to get out her father-in-law threatens to disown her. She says her education certificates are much more valuable than his money, and her husband stands by her, as she walks out, starts a school, and works day and night to make it a success. And now she has to deal with people around her. The story is similar to mine with all its struggles and successes. My mother always made it clear that being from a middle-class, she cannot give us luxuries but will equip us with a good education. And when I mouth dialogues as Vaagdevi I remember what my mother used to say," she relates.
Sudha Chandran's Telugu debut is not only a walk into memory lane, but it also poses a welcome challenge, she says, "I have been acting in Hindi serials for so long that I take a lot of things for granted. Now I am doing a Telugu serial that poses a new challenge of working with talented actors and speaking the language. Today, I stand as a student, and every day I learn my lines, and irritate my assistant directors to help me practice."
"Society has made certain rules and regulations and we abide by them for the fear of being condemned. I have chosen to break the ceiling and emerge from the stereotypes, and once I tasted success, I only wanted more," she shares.
- Rajeshwari Kalyanam