Chennai: From a simple girl from Pallavaram, a Chennai neighbourhood, to numero uno actress in Tollywood and K’town today, Samantha’s journey has not exactly been a rain of bouquets all the way. She has borne her share of brickbats to arrive at this position, the svelte beauty regarding ‘luck, focus and hard work’ as the three factors that worked in her favour. Like a seasoned actress, Sam says, “Much as I get compliments, I also take criticism happily as they better my life.” She is much in demand on the Tamil scene with a line-up of big movies, including Anjaan, which hits theatres today, Kaththi and Patthu Endrathukkula. But a composed Sam, who does not believe in number games, speaks to DC in a freewheeling exclusive on a male-dominated film industry, co-stars, marriage, skin shows and more.
Freedom for women: Yes, women are more liberated now more than ever. They raise their voices on issues. This is going to get better in the future and I am happy about it.
Freedom in film industry: (Laughs). It is a male-dominated industry. Superstars have more following owing to their importance in the script. Behind the camera, everyone treats me so well that I can’t ask for more. Especially, Lingusamy, who has never shown differentiation, he has always treated me equal with other stars. I think the situation is slowly changing. In Bollywood, women-oriented roles have already started rocking the scene. B’town has been taking heroines to the next level, like Priyanka Chopra’s Mary Kom and Kangana’s Queen. I have a meaty role to perform in the Vikram-starrer, Milton’s Patthu Enrathukkula.
Not keen on Queen’s remake offer: I felt that the original B’town version needed some adjustments to suit southern sensibilities. But the makers didn’t agree.
Telugu over Tamil: I owe a lot to Tollywood fans for whatever I am today. But because I am a Chennai ponnu, the Tamil audiences’ acceptance is equally important.
Accepting Anjaan: I wanted mass exposure in Tamil; that was when Lingusamy sir approached me with the script. Of course, he saw Gautham Menon’s Neethaane En Ponvasantham and was impressed. So, it was a conscious decision to sign Anjaan at this point of time.
No substance in Numero Uno: The ‘Number One’ status keeps changing every Friday when a film hits the screens. So, I don’t believe in this numbers game. I give my hundred per cent and leave the rest to God and the audiences.
Competition from peers, Nayan, Hansika and Trisha: I don’t compete with anyone. You are destined to get whatever’s meant for you. But you get inspired to do better if you have others in the race.
Skin exposure in Anjaan: I wanted to break the jinx that ‘Samantha is good for girl-next-door roles’. People think I can’t go glamorous. I didn’t want to be typecast. To prove a point that I can shine in all kinds of roles and also have no skin ailment as rumoured, I did go in for a bit of exposure in Anjaan, especially in the songs.
Gossip: They do hurt at times. So far, I haven’t allowed gossip to destroy me, but I have learnt to influence it in a positive way (smiles). Even on Twitter, responding to faceless people is a futile effort. If they come in front of me, I can consider their
‘Villa gift’ from Bellamkonda Suresh: I wish it were true! (Smiles) Not because of money. If that’s the case, I would have accepted many flicks. But the fact of the matter is that Bellamkonda Suresh sir stood by me when I needed support. Alludu Seenu was my ‘word and commitment’ given to him.
One-sided love affair akin to Sudheep’s in Naan Ee: (Giggles.) Yes, I have had my share of one-sided romantic episodes. No, he was not an actor. That was long back, even before I came to films. Thankfully, it got aborted at the initial stage itself since he said ‘no’.
Sid is my close friend: I can only say that Siddharth is my best friend. I can’t reveal anything more at this point of time.
On marriage: I will marry only when I am at the peak of my career.
On co-stars Vijay, Suriya and Vikram:
Vijay: After working in Kaththi, what I noticed was his transformation from off screen soft spoken, calm to aggressive actor on screen, full of energy. It was unbelievable.
Suriya: Suriya is a thorough professional and he is a gentle person off screen. He is a director’s actor. He has been a wonderful, supportive co-star. I was using a lot of takes for a particular song which was shot on the beaches of Goa in the hot sun. He could have got easily irritated. But he was cool as a cucumber, and said, ‘Go Sam, it’s your song, go, do it beautifully’.
Vikram: We have just started working together. Nothing much to share!
From Pallavaram to Boat Club: Yeah, I am proud to call myself a girl from Pallavaram, the Chennai neighbourhood, who has moved to the Boat Club area. I also have a house in Hyderabad, but I have not shifted there bag and baggage.