Anjali, who entered Kollywood with the acclaimed Katradhu Tamizh in 2007 went on to become one of the most sought after actresses in the industry. Known for her versatility, her performances in films like Angadi Theru and Engeyum Eppodhum have been considered some of the most authentic in recent cinema. Defying typecasting, she has also featured in movies that are all about the masala. Ahead of the release of Mapla Singam, she talks to Silverscreen about the film, her career, and the controversies she has faced so far.
What stands out about Mapla Singam?
Without being preachy, Mapla Singam has a great message. The biggest plus is the terrific comedy. Audiences generally enjoy comedies. But interlacing a good message into the comedy needs technique, and that is a major draw in Mapla Singam.
I play a lawyer in the film. The look and feel of my character is different from my previous work. When I listen to a narrative, I look for the importance of my character. In this film, my character is as important as the lead actor.
But aren’t you concentrating on films where your role might be limited?
Not at all. I have a number of films lined up where my performance will be the highlight, like Yaar Nee, Kaanbathu Poi and Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi
You have faced a lot of criticism in your career. How did you manage to overcome that?
I have done many films where I was fully confident about the subject. Some of them found a good response among audiences. But, a few critics found them unappealing. To be honest, more than the positive feedback from the audience and fans, it’s the negative feedback that affects me. I have been pulled down by that sometimes. But, over time, I learned to move on and even learn a lesson or two from it.
Also, remember that earlier, critics and criticism were a niche phenomenon. Not many people knew about them. Now, everyone who watches a film has become a critic, and exercises their right to talk about the film they just paid to watch. Thanks to global cinema, people are also more knowledgeable about films. As an actor, this drives me to choose better scripts, and scripts that cater to everyone.
As an actor, how does social media affect you? I’m not sure I would call you ‘social media savvy’!
The craze definitely gets to me too. People comment as they please on social media, but I do respect individual opinions. Out of a hundred people, fifty may like my films, fifty may not. But that isn’t the end of the film or my career. The way it affects us depends on how personally we take it.
Your voice is distinctive and unique, but isn’t considered conventionally sweet like that of dubbing artistes. What pushes you to dub for your films, irrespective of language?
I dubbed for my first ever Tamil film, Katradhu Tamizh (2007), even when I did not know the language. My director, Ram, pushed me to do it. I am so thankful for that, because, in a way, my voice has become my asset. People are so used to my voice on screen. For instance, because of my hectic schedule at the time, I didn’t dub for myself in Settai (2013). Many found it odd (to hear my character speak). I am glad that my voice has become an integral part of my performance.
From tiffs with your directors, to family issues brought into the public, to reports about being missing, you have had more than your share of controversies. Much has been written about you. How do you cruise through all this?
It is very tough to face controversies. Everyone, regardless of what profession they’re in, might find themselves in controversies sometimes. But just because we actors are in the limelight, our share of this is a little more. Some of these controversies are largely somebody’s imagination on a joyride. The only option I have is to move on. However hard that may be.
Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi (Goddess) is one of the most anticipated films this year. Largely because Karthik has performed impressively with his previous films. And the film also has a glittering cast with you, Vijay Sethupathi, SJ Suryah, Bobby Simhaa and Kamalinee Mukherjee.
Iraivi is very close to my heart. I have so much acting potential on display in the film. Even though I appear only in two shots in the teaser, many fans have told me that my look reminds them of Angadi Theru.