“Why me?” It was the first thought that crossed Saranya Mohan’s mind when she got an offer from Bollywood. Debutant Shailendra Varma wanted her to be part of Badlapur Boys, a remake of the Tamil movie, Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu.
“After the initial shock, I was thrilled to get the opportunity. After all, I had to reprise the same role I did in Tamil and later in Telugu,” says Saranya.
But she had her apprehensions initially, Saranya says.
“Especially about costumes. All through my career I have always been particular about what I wore in a movie. I am uncomfortable about going glamorous. Though I love watching typical Bollywood entertainers, I can never place myself in such movies. When I conveyed my reservations to the team of Badlapur Boys, they had no issues about it. In fact, costume designers of the movie came to my home in Alappuzha all the way from Mumbai with the dresses I had to wear. Their professionalism surprised me,” she says.
In Vennila… she played a college girl who comes to a village where she falls in love with the leader of a kabaddi team (played by Vishnu) that is infamous for not winning a single match. Her character had no name and she had few dialogues even. But the film won her wide appreciation and bagged her roles in Kollywood. In its Telugu remake, she was paired opposite Nani.
“While kabaddi remains the thread in Badlapur Boys, the story has been changed to a large extent. Also, compared to the Tamil and Telugu versions, I have got more dialogues in the Hindi version. I can’t converse very well in Hindi, but managed to pull it off with the help of the team. Nishan, who plays the hero, was very supportive since he could understand Malayalam as well,” she says.
The winning move for her was working with veteran choreographer Saroj Khan, who choreographed two songs for the movie, shot in Hampi, Karnataka.
“Prior to shooting the song sequences we had a full-day rehearsal session at Saroj Khan’s institute in Mumbai. I was in awe of her expressions and dance movements. She was very appreciative of my work and I cherish those moments,” says an excited Saranya.
It was dance that led the way to tinsel town, when she acted as a child artiste in Aniyathipravu. Her father, Mohan, runs a dance school, Yuva Kala Bhavan in Alappuzha, with her mother, Kalamandalam Devi Mohan, younger sister Sukanya and herself pitching in to help. After Aniyathipravu, she acted in a couple of other movies, took a break and returned a few years later in Fazil’s Oru Naal Oru Kanavu.
Roll of roles in Tamil
Kollywood has been lucky for her. Her filmography reads over a dozen films in Tamil (such as Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu, Eeram and Velayudham), she has done four films in Malayalam and a few in Kannada and Telugu. And in spite of the fact that she has played supporting roles in these movies, she didn’t go unnoticed.
Mollywood, however, hasn’t treated her that well and she wonders why. “I really don’t know. Some of them might be under the impression I am busy in Tamil. I think that it also has much to do with the person I am. I am not an extrovert who network with people who matters. I don’t indulge in self-promotion and do those roles that come my way. I don’t think I can change myself. For the time being, I am happy being a dancer and teaching children at our school,” she says.
Now that Badlapur Boys is set to release on November 7, one would expect her to be over the moon. However, the youngster is pretty cool about it.
“Doing a Hindi movie was never a dream. In fact, I didn’t even dream that I would be facing the camera as an actress. So, I am neither worried nor too excited. I am taking things as they come,” says Saranya.