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Meena, movies and motherhood

DC | NISHADH MOHAMMED
Published Jan 28, 2014, 10:20 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 8:17 am IST

There’s something about actress Meena. The little girl, who first faced the arc lights at the age of four, has come a long way. Not only did she go on to become one of the most established actresses in the south Indian film industry, but after 150 films spanning over three decades, opposite legendary actors across various languages, she still continues to thrive in the business.

At 37, Meena still has plum offers pouring in. In this tete-a-tete, she gets candid about life as an actress, a mother and making a  successful comeback.

 

At ease in her sprawling bungalow in Chennai, it’s hard not to notice her striking beauty and her innocence. In an industry where the shelf life of heroines is limited, Meena has survived playing a multitude of impressive roles. While most of her contemporaries have disappeared into oblivion, the audience refuses to let go of Meena.

Of her three decade-long journey, she says, “I’ve been working since I was four. Working as many as four shifts a day, my life has only been about shootings. Until motherhood, I was completely focused on my work. I attribute my success and this amazing journey to my parents, all the people I’ve worked with and most of all my fans.”

 

Meena has the unique distinction of starring opposite legendary actors of different generations across various languages — Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Chiranjeevi, and even Sivaji Ganesan, who used to call her a ‘one-take artiste’. But this glorious journey has had its share of ups and downs. “I have made a few mistakes. I regret having worked in only around 20 Malayalam films, despite having been offered a lot of great roles.”

The actress is enjoying her new role in real life — as a mother to her three-year old toddler Nainika. She says, “She’s the best thing to have ever happened to me. Growing up with her is a wonderfully gratifying experience.”

 

Meena’s stardom remains unaffected by marriage and motherhood. She recently made a successful comeback opposite Mohanlal in Drishyam. Now she is gearing up for Mammootty-starrer Balyakalasakhi, set to release on February 6. “I wasn’t sure about coming back so soon. But the script and persuasion by Mammookka and director Pramod Payyannur made me agree to do Balyakalasakhi. It’s a wonderful film. I play both wife and mother to Mammooka. I used to pull his leg saying, ‘Enna da monne’. It was great fun.” Adding, “During the shooting, Mammooka told me that Mohanlal would be calling me for his film. I thought he was joking, but two days later Lalettan casually said ‘Entha movie cheyamallo alle’. I heard the  script and was on board. I’m glad I did it. I couldn’t have asked for a better comeback. I wish to do more Malayalam films.”

 

Meena is also upbeat about the new-age cinema. She says, “Malayalam films have always been way ahead of its times in terms of scripts. Women-centric roles have always been here. I’m happy that today’s actresses have no inhibitions, they have great bodies, acting talent and make their presence felt in even the smallest of roles.”

Meena’s agenda is quite clear. “I don’t intend to sound arrogant but am rejecting so many scripts every day. Characters like the ones in Drishyam and Balyakalasakhi are what I’m looking for. I’m not in a space or age group to do run-of-the-mill roles. People expect different kind of cinema from me.”

 

For the nonce, she says, “I wish to do a role that will win me a National award some day. That is a long cherished dream.”

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