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Southern star

SANGEETA

Gopika bids adieu to cinema after making a mark in South Indian films.

I believe it is important to understand your talents and limitations and position yourself accordingly, in whichever field you are.


•‘Pranayamanithooval’ (Malayalam)

•‘For the People’

•‘Pacha Kuthira’

•‘Chandupottu’

•‘Keerthi Chakra’

•‘Mayavi’

•‘Malabar Wedding’

•‘Annan Thampi’

•‘Autograph’ (Tamil)

•‘Kana Kanden’

•‘Ponniyin Selvan’

•‘Thotti Jaya’

•‘Emdan Makan’

•‘Vellithirai’

There are some actors who make their presence felt through their absence. They are so subtly underplayed that they seamlessly merge with the character and the landscape. Many such actors dissolve into the sidelines of cinema, but a lucky few make t heir way up and leave their imprint on the minds of the viewers. Actor Gopika is one among them.

She possessed little star quality. None of her performances made us sit up, contemplate or gush. But this dark, petite girl, who is bidding adieu to cinema, leaves behind a void that no lead heroine in Malayalam cinema can fill. So what is it that made her the obvious choice in all the films that she starred in?

Simplicity and dedication

“Her simplicity and dedication. She gels with the South Indian landscape – rural, urban, semi-urban and so on. Not many of our heroines have this quality. And most importantly, luck. She always got a mix of characters. For instance, a sensational ‘For the People’ was followed by a conventional homely character in ‘Autograph.’ So she was never labelled or stuck in one category of films,” says Jayaraj who gave Gopika the big break with his song ‘Lajjavathiye.’

“She has these raw, rustic feminine attributes that she uses intelligently. She is unusually camera savvy and is quite sensuous as well. So, naturally, you develop a liking towards such actors who can potray with élan the girl-next-door type characters,” says Alagappan, cinematographer of Lal Jose’s ‘Chandupottu,’ where she played the lead opposite an effeminate Dilip.

But the actor modestly plays down the compliments.

Realistic and grounded

“The simple fact is that I was around, was willing to do those roles and tried to give each role my best. But honestly, I have never had this great unreal aspiration about making it big in cinema. I believe it is important to acknowledge your talents and limitations and position yourself accordingly, in whichever field you are. Whatever is due, will come your way then,” feels Gopika.



The girl-next-door: Gopika ensured that she was never stuck in one category of films.

Hers is perhaps the most well managed of careers in the industry. With optimal use of talent and aspirations she managed to make her mark in cinema. She managed all this without giving rise to gossip and now the actor makes a timely, dignified exit.

“The credit should go to my parents. They shaped my attitudes and achievements – in my professional and personal life. And personal life has always been a priority. Hence the decision to get married now,” she says. Gopika’s real life hero is Ajilesh, a medical practitioner in Ireland.

“I plan to move to Ireland and focus on my marriage. That would mean a break from cinema, at least for some time,” she says.

Gopika’s latest works include ‘Veruthe Oru Bharya,’ ‘Twenty Twenty’ and ‘Rajamudhra.’

‘“Veruthe oru Bharya,’ scripted by Girish Kumar and directed by Aku Akbar, is my second assignment with Jayaram. The first one was ‘Finger Print.’ I play Bindu, a struggling middleclass house wife. It is a heavy, performance-oriented role,” explains Gopika. But the high point of the film, according to Gopika, is that she plays the mother of a 14-year-old.

‘“Twenty Twenty,’ as you all know is a multi-starrer, and I play Mammooty’s heroine in the film. ‘Rajamudhra’ is the dubbed version of a Telugu film where I was cast opposite Richard, Shalini’s brother,” she adds.

The actor has to her credit more than 25 films in the four South Indian languages. “I started taking my career seriously after ‘Autograph.’ It was not because the film was a hit, but because of the training and preparation I put in for the film. The character was a Malayali girl who carried a veena in most of the scenes.

“Director Cheran told me that I should familiarise myself with the instrument. So I learnt to play the veena. Then, I had ample time to devote for such pre-production work. Afterwards, however much I wanted to do that, I could not, due to time constraints.”

Ask her to name one film that she would have loved to work in and she replies without a moment’s hesistation: ‘“Kaadhal.’ I was approached for the lead. I could not do it because of some date problems. But I knew that the film would be a hit. I loved the script of ‘Kaadhal.’ No regrets otherwise..,” says Gopika as she winds up for the season.

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