Diva in the drawing room
Meena makes an entry into television as the hostess of `House Full,' Jaya TV's new weekly game show.
"It will be a challenge but I think I can manage. After all what's life without challenges?"
THUMBS UP: Vivacious Meena makes her small screen debut.
Another heartthrob of the big screen has entered the small this week. After keeping viewers guessing about whether she will or won't, Meena has taken the plunge.
"Television producers have approached me for over three years now, but somehow I've not been very keen on doing serials. But when Jaya TV approached me with this new kind of game show, I gave it much thought before I decided `Why not?'" laughs Meena, as she welcomes you into her tastefully done-up home at Srinagar Colony, Chennai.
She has just returned after a test shoot for the project. "When they told me about the various cues and jargons the first round, second round, before break, after break my head began to spin," Meena breaks into laughter. "It will be a challenge but I think I can manage. After all what's life without challenges?"
Named `House Full,' the weekly programme aired on Sunday morning is a live show.
"Playing games and winning prizes will be of interest to all age groups and when I heard `House Full' will be on the lines of tambola I knew it will attract women viewers too," says an enthusiastic Meena.
Her sparkling eyes and cheerful smile are bound to be scoring points of the show.
The only factor that makes the actor slightly jittery is that she's hosting it live for one whole hour. "I'm going tell viewers out there that I may make mistakes and they'll have to bear with me," she declares. And that's exactly what she told them at the inaugural of `House Full' on Sunday morning at 11.30. Her words put the self-conscious first participant of the show at ease and soon you noticed Meena too settle down comfortably, handling the rounds with the live audience, callers and SMS entries with ιlan. After all she's an actor who has done innumerable films in all the languages of the South and also danced and sung on stage. ("Please! Singing is one thing I'm nervous about ... dancing is easy," she laughs.)
Serials and cinema
Strangely, in the Tamil scene, when a star from cinema enters television, particularly serials, it is considered a step down. "The view baffles me ... the success rate of film actors who enter TV is incredible. Radhika tells me that when she goes out with Sarathkumar, more fans throng to her than him. TV reaches the remotest of homes. On the other hand you have Khushboo who is managing serials, game shows and cinema. " she says.
A child star at four, a heroine when barely in her teens and a top star who ruled the roost with films opposite Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan, Meena reached the pinnacle at a very young age. "True. But I still wish to do different kinds of roles. Basically I'm a classical dancer. But I've had no chance to play such a part. And I want to win a National award," she says. Recently Meena played a film star in the Malayalam film, `Udayanaanu Tharam,' opposite Mohanlal. "Again that was a character I had always wanted to do. The entire story revolved around me ." Meena is at present working in the Kannada version of Cheran's `Autograph.' "I'm doing Sneha's role. I've done enough run-of-the-mill roles. I may still do them. But I prefer ones with substance," she clarifies.
Acting with Rajini
Meena did two films as a child artiste, with Rajinikanth, and suddenly you saw her as his heroine in `Ejamaan.' Memories of Meena as the terminally ill child (in `Anbulla Rajinikanth') who warms herself up to `Rajini Uncle' as she calls him in the film were still fresh when she became his heroine. More mega hits with the superstar `Muthu' and `Veera' followed. Meena laughs aloud. "I couldn't believe my ears when I heard I would be cast opposite him. `They are fooling us Mummy,' I told my mother. And when it did happen it was thrilling, unbelievable and sometimes a little embarrassing because just a little earlier he had been my `Uncle.' But doing films with him have been incredible experiences," she recalls.
So it was with Kamal Hassan with whom she was paired in `Avvai Shanmughi.' " Kamal was always around guiding me in my performance," smiles Meena.
Meena says that these days she's very particular about the costume she wears. "I'm comfortable in modern outfits. Even in the Jaya TV show you'll see me sport pants, cargos and skirts. But they will all be decent. There's no need for me to wear revealing outfits. Even in films I did so with much hesitation," she tells you. Among her fairly recent films she likes `Shock,' with Prashanth as hero.
Meena feels bad about some characters she missed because of date problems. "I was to do Revathy's role in `Thevar Magan.' I even shot for a day. `Thalaattu Kaekudhamma' is another ," she says.
Coming back to `House Full' Meena is very keen to make it popular. "Khushboo is already doing the very successful `Jackpot' on Jaya. I hope `House Full' will be equally successful. I'm keeping my fingers crossed," she says, flashing one of those charming smiles.
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