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Interview with Mamata Mohandas
Date: September 22, 2008, Hyderabad
mamata mohandas

Even two years after making her debut into Tollywood (first as singer, followed by as an actress), the solo-heroine dream continues to evade this Kerala Kutty. Leave alone the drawbacks. Anyways, Mamata Mohandas became an instant celebrity with the click of the title song in NTR-Krishnavamsi starrer Raakhi in 2006. Then, she secured her image with Aakalesthe Annam Pedatha song in Megastar Shankar Dada Zindabad. Giving a new twist to her songster career, Mamata made her debut as an actress in Yamadonga, a much-hyped film of SS Rajamouli with NTR. Later, she donned a negative role (not considered by many as heroine) in the film Krishnarjuna. Now, Mamata gets ready once again as the second fiddle in Victory Venkatesh ready for release film "Chintakayala Ravi". For this Kerala NRI from Bahrain, "Tollywood is a land of creativity and opportunities for the talented artistes. There are heroines who had even played the third fiddle before becoming heartthrobs. I am not here for an image, but for a serious career to prove my talents," she says in an exclusive interview to Interestingly, the girl wields a deeper understanding of the Indian film industry in general.

How about your journey in Tollywood?
You all know that I came to Tollywood as a singer. Before that I did Malayalam films. Suddenly, one day, Rajamouli introduced me as an actress here. He did give me immense moral support, which otherwise it would have been very difficult for me to cope up in my intial days. After that, I did a negative role in Krishnarjuna. My two films – Homam and Victory – were released recently and they brought me a good name as a good performer.

Did you face any difficulty in Tollywood so far?
Of course. Very few people know this. I was replaced in a couple of films. Aata and Don. MS Raju went in for Ileana, and Anushka was fixed for Don. As of Don, I came to know that Lawrance (director of that film) strongly opposed to entertain me as heroine in Don. I don't know the exact reasons. At first, I felt bad. Later, I did understand their personal reservations.

Tell us about Chintakalaya Ravi?
It's a lucky project for me. Working with big hero Venkatesh, it's like a dream to me. He is a thorough gentleman. In each and every aspect, he is very dignified. Seeing him and working with him as Chintakayala Ravi is hilarious. Venkatesh himself is a bundle of creativity and high energy. My director Yogesh said the film is a complete family entertainer with superb comedy.

What's your role in this film?
I did the role of Lavanya. Village lass. I am to marry Venkatesh, when an alliance comes to my house. As the bride-choice, I cherish dreams to go to the US and enjoy life there, knowing that my would-be is a software engineer there. Mine is totally a village role. I think village roles suit me better than city getups.

How lengthier is your role?
Good footage. I have two songs with Venky in the backdrop of US. But, the entire talkie is done here. I don't go to US. Just dream songs, but situational.

Who dreams? You or Venky?
Both. One time I dream, the next, Venky.

Tell us about your director Yogesh?
I think you know that he is coming after a gap of four or five years. You can see him making his comeback with vengeance. In each and every frame, his careful handling is seen.

What is your confidence level about Chintakayala Ravi?
I can directly assure the audience that the film is going to be a super hit. I say this because; I saw most scenes in this. The story of Kona Venkat simply rocks.

Your chemistry with Anushka?
Good. Firstly, everybody on the sets used to tease both of us. Somebody will come and say that Anushka will cut my scenes. They go to Anushka and say I would cut her scenes. I frankly admit, there had prevailed some uneasy moments initially. But, in the days that followed, we came have perfect chemistry between us. Yogesh told both of us to be friendly. Now, really we are very good friends.

Did you ever feel jealous of her?
No. Certainly No. I am not that kind of person. In fact, Anushka is a good and beautiful performer.

Why didn't you sing a song in C. Ravi?
By the time, I came into the project, already five songs were recorded and only one song – that too a party song – was remaining. I would always love to work with Vishal-Sekhar, but I was not lucky in this aspect. Hope, I can do next time.

What kind of feedback you get for your roles?
Definitely, I respect feedback from people. Good or bad, I take them with a positive feel. In Yamadonga, the audience really liked my role and they talked about it. I know my role in Krishnarjuna came with negative shades. Just because the movie didn't do well, there is no much scope for generation of the exact feedback. I also know, some audience didn't even consider it as that of a heroine. It's all okay. Let me face future with more confidence and understanding.

Even one year after your debut (Yamadonga), you are still doing the second fiddle. Do you feel for it?
Why? There are heroines who had even played the third or even fourth fiddle before hitting the bull's eye. I consider myself as an actress, not as heroine. That too, I am just one-year-old. Now, I am doing with a big hero like Venkatesh. I take this as positive development in my career. Categorizing a heroine into first, second and third or fourth levels are just narrow thinking and don't really sound professional. Of course, I know people cherish this doubt.

Recently, there's slight furor over a song in Homam. Your experience with that number?
Yes. I felt very embarrassed with that song. First day and second day, I just worked without taking any personal opinion on that, because I was working with a senior hero like Jagapati Babu. The third day, I telephoned to JD Chakravarty (director) and told him I felt very irritating to act in that erotic song. He simply said: Mamta, just you finish it and see. If it really hurts you, then we will do something. The next day, the media wrote that I had a big fight with him. Really, nothing like that happened. After that, I saw the song during the audio release function. I didn't find anything bad. That song just reflected a mood in that film. Ok.

Once again, you are doing the second-line heroine in King. Why?
Why can't I do that? See, Nag is really a king on Telugu celluloid. About Seenu Vytla, I don't think I need to tell you about him. This is a big combination. I feel King is also a golden opportunity for me to prove myself.

Is there any moment when you rejected any offers?
Yes. I rejected two or three films, because I didn't like the script. For me, I first give importance to the script. My role should have some prominence. Even it is of one minute, no problem, but it should elevate my career and I should have something to perform.

How do you maintain your glamour?
It's very important to an actress. But, all these days, I didn't really take this seriously. Just from the recent days that I am concentrating on glamour. Costumes play a major role. In the film Krishnarjuna, I was given the costumes that didn't fit my measurements. Sometimes, the dress will be either short or tall. I sensed the oddity, but I finished the shots later.

Why don't you have a personal designer?
Yes. After sour incidents like this, I recently got one personal designer of mine. I hope I am wearing nice dresses these days. Right?

What about Kerala girls dominating the film industry?
Kerala is a small state with limited resources. Poverty is one thing that makes hard working people leave the state and go in search of greener pastures outside. See, Kerala is God's Own Country. God has really given us the best of the female features with black large eyes, sharp nose and above all alluring complexion. Generally, Kerala girls are beautiful and they simply arrest the passersby. I remember one saying… you don't like the fragrance in your garden and search in somebody else's garden. It is also like this. Even the Telugu girls are very beautiful. I genuinely wish that Telugu girls also should come into their language industry.

The difference between remuneration? (Between Kerala and Andhra)
See, the maximum the heroines get in Malayalam film industry will be between 3-9 lakhs. But, here, the figure is nearly ten times more than that. Naturally, they like the best.

You are doing films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Which you prefer most?
We will absolutely find Tollywood or Kollywood a better option. Malayalam film industry is not rich. There is no better marketing. Originality is fast disappearing. The onslaught of Tamil films (direct) and Telugu films (dubbed) are affecting the local fortunes there. A Kerala girl honestly feels that if she were to continue her career in Malayalam, she would be risking her future. She will one day find that she is a withered flower. You see, a Kerala girl is also noble at heart. They are the best in nursing field.

How do you respond to rumors?
Nothing much. Rumors are part of the glitter world. The worst rumor in my life is that when people linked me with a hero in Malayalam. That hero is of my dad's age. I felt very bad and stopped films for sometime. When I came here, there was gossiping between me and Devi Sri Prasad. Seeing the rumors, we used to cut jokes. Gradually, I learnt that gossips are something that has become an integral part of the film industry. But, there are some artistes who try to get advantage of such rumors, good or bad. They consider this as one way of publicity to bolster their career.

What are your habits?
Music, eating good food and travel. Most important, I love swimming, 100-meters.

What's your favorite food?
Rice with ulava charu.

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