Back in the 90s, a bubbly heroine, who ran around the trees and fell in love with the hero, was considered desirable. Though there were exceptions, such characters formed the majority.
But the trend is slowly changing and filmmakers have opened up to the idea of helming women-centric movies. This also constitutes writing a strong character for heroines, by not just restricting themselves as romantic interests of the male leads. Recently, the characters of Sivagami and Devasena from SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali were much talked about. Also, the Hollywood blockbuster, Wonder Woman, proved that a heroine can very well carry the entire film on her
Another recent project that got us talking is Sundar C’s Sangamithra, in which a heroine plays the titular role, while Jayam Ravi and Arya essay important roles. The heroes might have strong characters, but the film was promoted at the Cannes Film Festival with Sangamithra’s valour.
This brings up a question on whether heroines would be game to allot bulk dates for a single historical action project that will require them to display their acting and fighting skills. Further, will the concept of heroes playing the heroine’s second fiddle pave way for ego issues?
Karthika Nair, who is playing the role of Devasena in the Hindi television series, Aarambh, opines, “It is every girl’s dream to play a princess and that’s the ultimate role an actress could ask for. In a male-dominant industry, getting such roles is special — and it’s actually a validation for your work. The perks are that you get to dress-up pretty and perform action sequences as well!”
“Writers have realised that it’s the script that matters. After all, people are fed up of seeing just men fighting all these years. If you see in Aarambh, I play a warrior princess and I don’t fight wars with my army. It is more of a one-on-one fight with the villain. I had to master horse-riding, which would appear in the show for few minutes. The producers took utmost interest and brought in the best trainer — this shows the quality of work that they believe in,” the Ko actress shares.
Right from her debut film, Nikki Galrani has always made it a point to choose diverse roles — “If given an opportunity, I would definitely sign those films which would require me to play the titular role. Also, I would be more happy to learn different skill sets. A film like Baahubali can’t be made in five months; it requires, patience and time. Also, I don’t think there would be a gender ego, if a woman gets to play the protagonist. Times have changed and the industry understands the importance of working as a team for the goodness of a script. A film is nothing but a good team first.”
Costume designer Anu Vardhan claims historical films are a dream project for any designer. She goes on to add, “I have visited several studios in Hollywood and the entire process right from designing to execution is phenomenal. In terms of costumes, we haven’t even achieved 10 per cent of what they have achieved.”
Films like Baahubali or Sangamithra will demand a lot of work, time and dedication. It is a challenge and it will work only if you team up with the right set of people and producers who are willing to go to any extent to bring the desired look. In Kaashmora, I worked on Nayanthara’s look for a small portion. It was taxing, but I had the freedom to experiment. When you design the look, it should look realistic and not tacky. To achieve it, you need a proper team and a great support system,” adds Anu Vardhan.
Celebrity fitness trainer Bharath Raj who has worked with the likes of Vikram, Sarathkumar and Varalaxmi puts things in perspective. “Actors who come to our studio would usually take up boxing for self-defense purposes and cardio. For example, in I, Vikram sir and I worked on his look to suit the role of a body-builder and it was limited only to that particular role.”
“Personally, being a body builder, I couldn’t find what I wanted in India, I had to travel to US to learn about nutrition. There is also something called Pranic healing which people should undertake to heal from every injury. In India, we have basic knowledge, but to learn a particular skill-set, one has to travel to a different country. It is sad to say that India doesn’t have such places to train at,” he shares.
Actor Ashok Selvan says, “Irrespective of who acts in the lead role, I will play a supporting character if my role is exciting and good.”
He concludes by saying, “It is a big career move for an actor if he is going to invest more than a year into one film. I will definitely be choosy about what I pick, after my wait for a previous film which didn’t click. I won’t be a part of a project just because it is a big budget film with a good paycheck. If I’m going to dedicate my look and years of time into it, it needs to be a character that I enjoy doing.”...