Serial success

Recognition

Serial success

Srikanth srinivasa speaks to Kalyani, best known for her role as Monica in the Kannada soap ‘Kavalu Daari’, on winning the Karnataka government’s ‘best actress’ award and more...

Her name spells a popular musical raga in Indian classical music. The announcement of the coveted ‘Best Actress’ award from the Government of Karnataka was not only music to her ears but also left her shell-shocked and overwhelmed.

Meet Kalyani, the winner of the best actress award for the Kannada film Suicide, who has spent sleepless nights to calm down her excitement and remember all the people in the industry with whom she has worked with, who have helped her gain this sudden recognition.

Says Kalyani, “It is an extraordinary feeling. This award came rather unexpectedly as I had forgotten about having worked in the movie. Also, I didn’t even know that my film was submitted to the awards panel. The movie Suicide released and bombed at the box-office.

The producer-director of the movie Guru called me to congratulate me on winning the award. I thought Guru had won an award and so I congratulated him. He surprised me with the announcement and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing from then onwards. It took a long time for the news to sink in.”

Kalyani recalls how she made her bow into movies with a small role in the Kannada film Sorry, after a production manager of a film unit spotted her on the location of a shoot for another film near her home. Kalyani, who had just finished her 10th standard then, faced initial resistance from her parents when she decided to take up acting as her career.

She was quickly signed on for a television show titled Manaviyathe, which was followed by daily soaps including Ambika, Chaduranga and Ardha Satya. However, it was Kavalu Daari, produced by Balaji Telefilms, that became the turning point of her career, for, she played the role of Monica with aplomb.

She gained recognition as the Komalika of Kannada television. Yes, Kalyani played the Kannada version of Komalika in the serial, a character that was earlier popularised by Urvashi Dholakia in the Hindi soap Kasautii Zindagii Ki.

Kalyani never looked back after the success of Kavalu Daari, which fetched her a variety of roles in Telugu and Tamil television. Currently, Kalyani is playing a positive title role in a Kannada soap that is on air on Udaya TV, where she transforms from an innocent village bumpkin to a sophisticated woman.

Kalyani considers herself lucky to play both positive and negative roles on television, although it is the latter that has given her all the due recognition. While she played positive roles in serials such as Ardha Satya and Enda Mavulu in Telugu, Kalyani played a hardcore murderer in a Telugu serial called Mandara.

She got to play negative roles in Tamil serials Aarti and Thavam. “I have always liked to behave like someone else on screen. I am quite a jovial person and love to portray what I am not. I love to play a rowdy and Monica is one such role that opened up many opportunities for me,” she says.

Grey area

Didn’t she fear being typecast in such negative roles? Says she, “I did a substantive role in a Raj TV show called Puriyatha Puthir that dealt with surrogate motherhood. Negative roles gave me an opportunity to showcase different kinds of expressions as they are more attention seeking. Besides, you can only cry in positive roles. Above all, there is no identity to roles that have no negative shades in them.”

Does Kalyani repent getting into television forgoing good film offers? Kalyani answers, “I have no regrets about doing television because the medium gave me a lot of work satisfaction and good money too! I was offered very good roles. It’s because of television that I am getting to act for so long.”

What was the film Suicide all about and what was her award-winning role like?  “The movie is a special film that represents womanhood. I play Vasundhara who undergoes a lot of emotional trauma in her life. It’s difficult for a woman when she doesn’t find a good life partner. The film also tried to convey the message that you cannot end your life just because you made a mistake in your life,” explains Kalyani.

Kalyani goes on to say that Vasundhara marries an aspiring filmmaker but there is hardly any communication between the husband and wife. Vasundhara meets Sundar, an aspiring actor, with the intention of getting close to the director. She develops an intimacy with him without her knowledge. She realises her mistake and asks Sundar to leave the place.

Meanwhile, Vasundhara comes to know that her husband is suffering from AIDS and so, she calls Sundar to get a medical checkup before he gets involved with another girl. But it is too late for him. Sundar commits suicide and so does Vasundhara, as she is unable to digest his death.

Why was the film not accepted by the audiences? Says Kalyani in a matter-of-fact manner, “The film was not appreciated. I want audiences to think in a broader way. These are facts of life and they can happen to anyone in the world. People should have accepted the truth because of the effort and money that has gone into the making of such a meaningful film.

Only when audiences see such movies will there be such producers and filmmakers coming forward to do meaningful films. Probably, that is what happens when a filmmaker tries to take a different perspective to the problems the society is facing. The film should have been taken positively and the media should take the lead in appreciating such movies and in helping filmmakers of such movies reach out to more audiences.”

What does this award mean to Kalyani? Kalyani replies ecstatically, “This award means a lot to me. I have just begun my journey, and I have a long way to go. I have to thank so many people for giving me such roles. My hunger for acting is extreme and it is difficult to satisfy it.”

Where does Kalyani see herself in future? Says she, “I have a craving to act and I am here to entertain people. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned — big screen, small screen or theatre, positive or negative role. I dream of launching my own television production house very soon.”

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