Anandhi never dreamt of a career in cinema. Her dreams were on a different plane altogether. As a child growing up in Hyderabad, Anandhi told all and sundry that she’d become a pilot one day. Now, years later, she is an actress with an interest in fashion design.
There’s an air of fragility about Anandhi. Her childish giggles reinforce the impression. Barely out of teenage, she has acted in eight films under three different names. She was Rakshita for close to fifteen years and still is to her doting family; became Hasika for a while, and is now Anandhi, courtesy Prabhu Solomon. “I’ve always felt a special connection with Prabhu sir,” she explains, “the patient man that he is, he explained that he wanted me to have a Tamil name, now that I’m in the Tamil industry. Since I’m always happy, he felt that Anandhi would be fitting.”
Prim and proper village belles may be her forte now, but Anandhi vividly remembers a time when she played more saucy characters. In her Telugu debut Bus Stop, Anandhi played an incorrigible flirt Seema, who changes partners like she does clothes. For the then teenager, this was a complex role indeed. And scary too. “Maruthi sir explained clearly about the girl’s character. It was my very first onscreen role, and I had the feeling that it would have a big impact. Some people warned me against doing it, since it was a very mature topic. But I’ve never been one to back down from challenges.”The film received poor reviews, but Anandhi’s performance won acclaim. It was when she was working on her next Telugu film – Green Signal, that writer Manimaran approached her for the lead role in Thanu Kumar’s Poriyaalan. “It came at the right time, too. I was itching to do something new. When Mani sir told me about it, I was thrilled. I may not have played a huge part in it, but it was a start.”
Poriyaalan triggered a chain reaction. Within weeks, Anandhi says she was deluged with movie roles of every kind. She’s still unsure of the reason behind her sudden rise in popularity, but chooses not to reflect on it too much. “My life hasn’t been… what you call normal, for the past few years. I haven’t had typical college experiences, even though I have played a college girl a couple of times. It’s fantasy life, there’s no use trying to explain things like these.”
Months into her work on Poriyaalan, she was offered roles in three different films – Kayal, Chandiveeran and Visaranai. Her hopes were high for Kayal, the Prabhu Solomon tale of star crossed lovers, in which she played Kayalvizhi, a domestic help. She was excited, for the film was named after her character. “You wouldn’t find many Telugu films named after the heroine…at least, not a romance. I gave it my all. I heard rumours that it didn’t attain its true potential in the box office. But for me, it was more than that. Working on Kayal made me fall in love with cinema.”
Her new-found fascination for acting has been a help on the sets of Chandiveeran and Visaranai. In the former, she pairs up with Atharvaa, someone whom she has learnt a lot from. “Atharvaa is an intense actor. It is quite hard to match up to his acting skills, but thanks to Sargunam sir and Atharvaa himself, I tried hard. In some scenes, I think I was able to.”
*****Question her about Vetrimaaran’s experimental film Visaranai, and Anandhi is all aflutter with excitement. Vetrimaaran has had quite the effect on the young actress. Mostly due to his previous associations with Dhanush, an actor whom Anandhi cannot stop gushing about. “Working with him, I began respecting Vetrimaaran sir more. He’s an intelligent director. The things that he tries to show onscreen…well, they’re very novel. That’s all I can say at present.”
For GV Prakash Kumar’s Trisha Illana Nayanthara, Anandhi went back to school. In double plaits and school uniforms. Working with a young team has taught her new tricks as well. “TIN has a lot of comedy elements. I haven’t tried anything of that sort in my films till now, and so I’m very excited about the opportunity. The film is very fresh and there’s a cute romantic track between GV and me in it.”
The title does seem a little daunting for Anandhi. It has the names of three heroines she looks up to – Trisha, Ileana and Nayanthara. In fact, while the team was shooting in Chennai, a crowd quickly gathered outside when they heard (incorrectly) that Trisha, Ileana and Nayanthara were at the sets. “When the ADs went to tell them what the film was about, a few left. But a majority of them stayed behind and came to take selfies with me and GV. It was fun, but it made me realise that there would be a lot of expectations for this one when it does release. What if someone says Anandhi’s no Trisha? I may not be…but I’m still a decent actress.”
The industry continues to fascinate her, and she’s quite keen to try a wide variety of roles. Her Tamil has improved quite a bit too, a recent achievement. She credits all this to Prabhu Solomon, a man she calls her ‘God’. “He shaped my movie knowledge. All the tricks I know now are mostly Prabhu sir’s. Even now, I rush to him for advice on the problems I encounter. He never loses patience, and will always be my guru.” [quote align=’right’]”I realise there would be a lot of expectations from Trisha Illana Nayanthara…What if someone says Anandhi’s no Trisha? I may not be…but I’m still a decent actress.”[/quote]
Apart from hoping for a glimpse of Dhanush somewhere in Chennai, Anandhi tries to spend as much time as possible with her younger sister. She tells me proudly that her star status doesn’t affect their modest family at all. “My parents are grounded, and so is my sister. To her, I’m Rakshitha, her big sister who sometimes helps her with maths problems.”
The Anandhi interview is a Silverscreen exclusive.