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A class ACT

After Virumaandi, Abirami is waiting for scripts with scope for acting.


IT'S HARD to believe this is the girl who played the role of Annalakshmi in Kamal Hassan's latest flick Virumaandi. Clad in a red salwar with her tresses let loose, Abirami looked little like the bold village lass she played with finesse. And

she spent time chatting about movies and acting.

Abirami faintly remembers her movie debut. "I was eleven when I acted in noted filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Kathapurushan. I applied for the role on seeing an advertisement. It was a minor one and I did not realise I was working with a legend like Adoor," she recalls.

"I have seen him taking the entire day to shoot a scene and used to wonder what he was up to. Now, I understand his passion for perfectionism."

Movies, however, were never a career option for Abirami. "I wanted to become a veterinary doctor. But, I was put off when told that I would have to dissect animals. Then, I dreamt of being a journalist," she says with a smile. That did not happen, too. Anchoring programmes for Asianet opened new vistas for her. Soon, she started acting in Malayalam movies. She played the lead role in "Jnangal Santhustaranu". "It was so good to see myself on a movie poster," she exclaims.

Did Virumaandi give her the much-needed break in Tamil cinema? "It is definitely a milestone in my career. But, I won't term it a break," she says. "Initially, I was apprehensive about playing the role. Annalakshmi has a personality of her own and is bold. I did my homework and learnt the Madurai dialect."

"It was a good learning experience. Somewhat like reading a book. The junior artistes from Madurai taught me the regional accent. My make-up had a brownish tinge to accentuate the earthy look," she adds. She credits Kamal Hassan with fleshing out the character she portrayed. "It was like going through a crash course in filmmaking. I approached it as if it was my first movie. I got into the skin of the character and learnt to forget that I was the heroine." "It felt great to hear people calling me Annalakshmi," Abirami remarks.

Playing a village belle is not new for this 21-year-old actress. She donned a similar role in Samudhram and in a Malayalam movie. But, Virumaandi was something different, because "it was a lot more rustic." "Bold portrayals," she says, "just happened." With 20 movies under her belt, (in four South Indian languages), Abirami says that henceforth she would be choosy in her roles. "I will not act in masala movies. My character should be important. If I accept all offers, the zeal for acting will be lost."

Abirami, now pursuing a bachelor's degree in English literature through correspondence, says she misses college life .

M. ALLIRAJAN & RAYAN ROZARIO

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