Meet Samantha: South's hottest heroine

Sreedhar Pillai

Aug,13 2014 16:35:02 IST

The 25 year old Samantha Ruth Prabhu is the current flavour of South Indian (read Tollywood & Kollywood) films. The Chennai born and raised model-turned actress is undoubtedlynumero uno in Telugu commercial cinema. Right from her critically acclaimed Ye Maaya Chesave (2010) directed by Gautham Menon, which fetched her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut – South, many of her Telugu films like Eega, Dookudu, Attarintiki Daredi were blockbusters. The industry rumour is that she is the highest paid actress down south and also the most in demand for endorsements.

However, she is yet to taste box-office success in Kollywood. Remember, she came to cinema through Ravi Varman's (cinematographer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela) directorial debut in Tamil Moscowin Kavery, which turned out to be a disaster. And later, all her Tamil films including Gautham Menon’s Neethaane En Ponvasantham (2012) were lukewarm at the box-office. The only Tamil film which became successful for her was Naan Ee, the dubbed version of her Telugu blockbuster Eega. In fact the superstious Tamil film industry quickly wrote her off by saying she is ‘jinxed’.

Samantha is also known as the ‘controversy queen’ because of her frank and forthright views on everything under the sun.

Samantha is also known as the ‘controversy queen’ because of her frank and forthright views on everything under the sun.

Samantha, born to a Malayalee mother and a Telugu father, was raised in the middle-class Chennai suburb of Pallavaram. Now, her big commercial Tamil mass masala film Anjaan, where she is cast opposite the hot and happening Suriya is releasing on Independence Day (15 August) weekend. A lot is riding on Anjaan for Samantha, who is desperate to give a hit in her mother tongue.

Samantha is also known as the ‘controversy queen’ because of her frank and forthright views on everything under the sun. She was the first film personality in South India to openly endorse Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, when he started his electoral campaign. She is said to be in a “relationship” with actor Siddharth, which she has neither denied nor confirmed to the media so far. Her detractors in the industry (mainly rival actresses) say she has an attitude problem.

Sam, as she is popularly known, is a firebrand on screen and off it too. She opens up in an exclusive free-wheeling interview to Firstpost.

You have come a long way from your modelling days in Chennai to be the current top actress in Tollywood.

It has been a long journey. I would say Gautham Menon discovered my acting capabilities with Ye Maaya Chesave in Telugu. I have not set any goals for myself, I just want to be the best in whatever I do. My career is hard work, destiny and oodles of luck.

But lady luck has not been shining on you in Kollywood.

Yes I agree. It is disappointing especially after growing up in Pallavaram, a distant suburb of Chennai. I used to take two buses to get to College in Chennai city. I grew up on Hollywood films as we were all great fans of Clint Eastwood. The first Tamil film I saw was Gautham Menon’s Khakka Khakka when I was in the 11th standard. It got me hooked and later I debuted in Telugu under Gautham’s direction. And when I did a straight Tamil film with Gautham sir Neethaane En Ponvasantham, it turned out to be just an average grosser.

So a lot is riding on Anjaan for you?

Lingusamy-directed Anjaan is a very important make-or-break film for me in Kollywood. My detractors say I’m jinxed as far as Tamil films are concerned. I want to break the hoodoo and give a super hit.

The buzz is that you have turned glamorous with a vengeance in Anjaan, especially in the Goa beach song wearing hot-pants and flowered shirt knotted above waist (even the censors trimmed it a bit). It has become a topic of discussion on social networking sites. Please comment.

(Laughs) It is very difficult to look hot on screen. I took special care to look good and Santosh Sivan (cinematographer) made it wow! It was a conscious decision to make competition and local media see red. I was always tagged as an actress who could only do the girl next door type of roles. I hope Anjaan will break the mould.

So it was a move to break your image and try something new?

I was always tagged as an actress who could only do the girl next door type roles. It’s due to the image that has stuck with me since my first Telugu film Ye Maaya Chesave. I do not want to be typecast and now I’ am trying to break the monotony.

You have a very promising line-up big-budget superstar driven releases in Tamil like Anjaan with Suriya, Kaththi with Vijay and 10 Enradhukulla with Vikram.

If you want to find a strong footprint in Kollywood, one has to work with the big superstars. Anjaan with Suriya will release this Friday and for Diwali I have Kaththi with Vijay, which is directed by AR Murgadoss. It will be followed by 10 Enradhukulla with Vikram sir, directed by Vijay Milton.

Any Bollywood plans?

No way, I have a lot to prove in Kollywood and Tollywood.

Are you in love?

I’m in a relationship. I’m happy and contended.

Updated Date: Aug 13, 2014 16:36 PM