An actress’ life is not just about glitz and glamour. Behind the happy faces they put up on screen is their true self which is disguised in the form as an actress. Time and again we have talked about how actresses are being taken for granted — and in recent times, several stars including Nayanthara, Tamannaah, Trisha and Varalaxmi have spoken against it and demanded strong roles in films. They belong to the top crop and are in a position to make demands. But, if you are a struggling actress with oodles of passion, you will have to go through the test of time till you attain a position in the industry.
For example, many aspirants start their career performing raunchy songs, which directors term as ‘item numbers’. These artists aim to do character roles, but it is extremely difficult for them to shun that image and perform meaningful roles. Actress Suja Varunee who was once synonymous with glam numbers made a bold decision to let go of her image and has successfully featured in strong roles in Kidaari, Sadhuram 2 and Kuttram 23 after struggling for years. She says, “I have never been ashamed of dancing for such songs because that is also an art — and the money I got from working helped to ease my family situation. I hated those who didn’t learn to respect that art and people who branded the same with derogatory names. I always wanted to become a good actor, so I made a decision to reinvent myself and ever since I have been patient about choosing my roles. I can still see many actors like me who struggle to let go of their image. The only way to prove them wrong and break the ice is to be patient, powerful and be without losing focus.”
Despite constantly ignoring the offers, Suja is still being approached to do special songs in leading actor’s films. “I’ve earned enough money, all I want now is fame and success that comes from doing quality projects. I have rejected so many films because I don’t want to compromise on my image. The people and media’s perception have changed because of my hard work. I want to be a complete actor who can pull off any role.”
Actress Mumtaj, who began her career as a heroine, believes that the main problem arises when you are being typecast. “I did dual roles in Chocolate, but people remember only the Malai Malai song. Changing that perception is extremely difficult. We are all performers at the end of the day. Dance is an art and I feel that dancers are better actors. In Bollywood, top stars like Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor dance for sensuous numbers — they are not branded in Bollywood. I think Kollywood has to grow further and the mindset of the people has to change,” she opines.
Ragasiya, who has never shied away from performing raunchy songs, feels that the term ‘item dancer’ is derogatory. “I come from a filmy background and I’m seeing top Bollywood actors since the age of six. I got introduced as a heroine in Bollywood and I have done several commercials and recently got featured in an international video as well. It takes less time to film a song and I did it for pocket money! People need to wake up and not judge a person based on dancing for a particular song or what clothes they wear. If they consider it obscene, then Sunny Leone couldn’t have entered Bollywood!” she explains.
Another aspect to be noted is that when small-time actresses perform to special numbers, they get paid a nominal amount — but when leading stars come forward to feature in a similar song, they’re offered a mammoth sum! In an earlier interview with DC, Kajal Aggarwal disclosed that she received a lot of offers after her solo song Pakka Local from Telugu movie Janatha Garage went viral. She added that she did not see these songs making an impact on the film. “Frankly, it all depends on how relevant the dance number is and how aesthetically it will be shot, besides me really wanting to do it. I usually don’t do such numbers but did Janatha Garage because of the equation I share with Jr. NTR.”
Director-actor-producer Samuthirakani strongly condemns skin show in songs and films. “Those directors who do not have confidence in their script and talent would resort to having such songs in their films. I strongly believe that they deserve better treatment and not be called as ‘item dancer’. Revealing one’s skin is not vulgarity. Even I had such a song in Nadodigal — when you place a song like that, there is a limit with which you have to work and respect the performer. You can’t simply give them skimpy clothes; that is not reality,” he concludes.