Comedy, Sarala style
KOVAI SARALA is not a run-of-the-mill comedienne. Comedy comes naturally to her. Be it speaking the Coimbatore or Madurai dialect or taking on a handful of pettai rowdies, she does it with elan. The slim and fair actress' recent foray into television too has proved successful. She appears as "Sakalakala Sarala," a sitcom on Vijay TV (Thursdays, 9 p.m.), directed by S. N. Shakthivelan.
"It's a sitcom with a message, each episode being complete in itself. People have problems in life and there is no point in showing the same on screen. I think I am gifted in that I can bring laughter into people's lives," she notes. Hugely enjoying the small screen exposure, she says there are no limitations here and also, there is the gratification of seeing your work instantly. "In the beginning, I was only doing comedy tracks nothing big or great. But all the films I featured in became super hits. With "Udaya Geetham" and "Pondaatti Sonna Kettukanum", Sarala graduated from comedy to character roles with a comic streak.
"Sathi Leelavathi" was a landmark in her career. Directed by Balu Mahendra, the film had Kamal Hassan in the lead and Sarala playing his wife. "I never dreamt of landing such a role. One has to fully utilise such unexpected opportunities. I have never seen an artiste as sincere as Kamal, and patience is something I learnt from him."
Was it comedy she had always set her sights on? "All I wanted was to see myself on the screen. I didn't have any specific goal about the kind of characters I wanted to play. It so happened that I was offered comic roles. Initially, I had no clue as to how to handle them."
But soon she figured out a method. "Once the director briefs me about a role, I draw inspiration from real life characters and portray it, adding new dimensions." Sarala consciously avoids imitating the style of other actors, as she believes in having a unique slot for herself. "My flair for the regional dialect came in handy and helped me reach out to a large audience."
What makes for successful comedy? "Any actor needs luck, besides talent, a sense of timing, the ability to speak with clarity and to adapt to your co-artiste's style. If you do your own thing, it will amount to over-acting."
If you're wondering what she is like in real life, she says, "I am a little serious and given to mercurial moods. Sometimes, I will be chattering away and at other times, I maintain a stony silence. But I don't harbour ill feelings."
Single by choice, she says. "I am wedded to cinema and I will continue acting till the end. I want to play characters that will leave a lasting impact on the viewers."
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