Despite her recent blockbuster Jathirathnalu, newbie Faria Abdullah has not been able to make any new announcement, though discussions have been in progress for quite some time. Her 5 ft 10 inches height could be the stumbling block.
“It’s true that Faria is very tall and that maybe one of the factors against her, since most top Telugu heroes are of average height,” admits producer Lagadapati Sridhar. “But Faria is a promising talent and is bound to rock,” he adds.
According to Sridhar, Bollywood heroes are more accommodative with tall heroines. “Superstars like Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have worked with taller heroines like Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandez. Telugu heroes should also open up a bit,” he feels.
Possibly taking Lagadapati’s advice, one of the tallest Telugu actors, Rana Daggubati, has agreed to romance the relatively shorter actress Sai Pallavi in his upcoming movie Virataparvam.
“Initially, the makers had a few apprehensions, but I dispelled them,” says director Venu Udugula. “Rana and Sai Pallavi are portraying two well-etched roles and not the usual hero-heroine stuff. My film is a character-driven movie and the height factor doesn’t come into play. Their scintillating performances will make the audience overlook everything else,” he asserts.
Another director, Hemanth Madhukar, reveals that a few heroes tend to stand on stools to match the height of the heroine in some frames, though he declines to name the stars in question. He recently worked with one of the tallest heroines in Telugu — Anushka Shetty — in Nishabhdam.
“We had to scout for actors to match her height, and considered Tamil star Arvind Swami first before roping in leading actor Madhavan to romance Anushka in the movie,” he says, adding, “In fact, Anushka has worked with relatively shorter heroes like Tamil star Suriya, since she picks roles of substance instead of thinking about the height of her co-star.”
Describing Anushka as “an actor-par-excellence,” Hemanth says she will be working with another young hero, Naveen Polishetty, to offer some variety.
Commenting on heroines of medium height like, Tamannaah, Rashmika, Samantha, Keerthy Suresh and others making waves in Tollywood, Lagadapati Sridhar, says, “Nithya Menen is one of the shortest heroines in Tollywood, but she scaled dizzy heights riding on her talent. So also other actresses who made the audience overlook their height and went on to join the bandwagon of A-listers.”
Actress Hamsa Nandini, who is over 5 ft 7 inches tall admits that her height was detrimental to her career during her initial years in Tollywood. “After tasting success in modelling and the fashion world, where my height worked to my advantage, one director openly told me that he was not casting me since I could overshadow the hero. It is always difficult for people to accept a strong and dominating personality. Then I changed tacks and began to do ‘special appearances’ with big stars to make my mark in Telugu film industry,” she says.
Probably due to the height-disadvantage, lanky actresses like Mamata Mohandas, Parvati Melton, Karthika, Richa Gangopadhya and Deeksha Seth couldn’t make it big in Telugu despite having their share of hits.
“I don’t know about others but I didn’t have any issues with my lanky frame in movies. My co-stars in ad commercials used to stand on stools to match my height,” says Saiyami Kher, who stands over 5.7 feet tall.
“I was lucky to work with actors like Nagarjuna in Wild Dog and Sai Dharam Tej in Rey who were taller than me,” she says, adding, “Honestly, talent and commercial success fetch more offers for heroines; I feel height has nothing much to do with it.”