Pursuing twin passions

Pursuing twin passions

Malayalam talent

Pursuing twin passions

Her proficiency in both Hindustani and Carnatic music served as a passport for Mamta Mohandas to enter the tinsel world, but her comely looks and her exposure as a model ensured that she had an acting career too on hand.

Seven years after she made her debut as a heroine in the Hariharan-directed Malayalam film Mayookham, Mamta has come a long way and, apart from her singing, has done well defined roles in Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil movies, and a solitary film in Kannada as well.

Tall, fair and lissome, Mamta had, very early in her career, the opportunity to act with the stalwarts of Malayalam cinema like Mammooty, with whom she did Bus Conductor, Mohanlal in Baba Kalyani, Suresh Gopi in Adbutham, Lanka and Jayaram in Madhuchandralekha. While these films made her a household name in Kerala, it was the 2007 blockbuster Big B, with Mammooty, that really launched her career in a big way.

Mamta was seen to advantage in popular filmmaker Sathyan Anthikaad’s Kada Thudarunnu, where she had Jayaram as her co-star. Her sterling performance in this film won her a number of prestigious awards including the Filmfare Award and state awards.

While films like Musafir, Anwar and Nayika fared well at the box office, it was Race, where she played the wife of a cardiac surgeon, that gave her ample opportunity to reveal the depth of her talent.

Unfortunately, the film came a cropper at the box office. Mamta also excelled in the role of an intrepid TV reporter in the small budget film Passenger, which turned out to be a runaway hit. With Anwar, she also made a debut in Malayalam films as a playback singer.

Her latest release Arike, directed by Shyamprasad, which she had banked on, tanked at the box office. Mamta has a number of new projects in Malayalam on hand and these include Jawan of Vellimala with Mammooty, The Boss with Dileep and Mathilukalukkapuram, which is in the pre-production stage. Gooli remains the only Kannada film that Mamta has done.

It was director Karu Palaniappan who introduced Mamta Mohandas to Kollywood in his film Sivappathigaram. The film met with lukewarm success and Mamta soon had a dearth of offers in Tamil cinema, though she landed a cameo role in the rare Rajnikanth flop Kuselan, and a full-fledged heroine’s role in the comedy film Guru En Aalu, where she matched steps with Madhavan.

Almost three years after Guru, Mamta had one more release in the Tamil film Thadaiyara Thakka, directed by Magizh Thirumeni with Arun Vijay in the lead. Her singing talent was to the fore in films like Kalai and Goa. In the latter, she had the opportunity to sing the hit number Idaivazhi, under the baton of Yuvan Shankar Raja.

Mamta Mohandas has done much better in Telugu cinema than in Tamil, and the industry has also given her significant breaks as a playback singer as well. She made her debut in the superhit Yamadonga, which also starred NTR Jr and was directed by S S Rajamouli. The film also featured a couple of songs rendered by her. Mamta acted in as many as seven Telugu films in 2007, but a number of them failed to attract audience interest.

Films like Victory and Krishnarjuna flopped miserably while Homam, directed by J D Chakravarthi, fared only slightly better. Srinu Vaitla’s King, with Nagarjuna, breathed life into her Tollywood career and apart from a meaty role, Mamta also sang a few numbers.

Music director Devi Sriprasad gets the credit for grooming Mamta as a playback singer in Telugu films, and the first number that she crooned in the film Rakhi fetched her a coveted Filmfare award.

Apart from the film Akalisthe Annam Pedtha, Mamta has also sung for popular composers like Keeravani, R P Patnaik and Chakri. Mamta is busy balancing her acting and singing commitments and confesses that she derives satisfaction from both, although singing remains her first love.

Mamta has now added another dimension to her career. She has been conducting a very successful TV quiz show in Malayalam: Kayil Oru Kodi — Are you ready. This has seen her popularity soar in Kerala and the neighbouring states too.

The young actress has been very selective where her acting assignments are concerned, and has been extremely keen to avoid films that call for overtly intimate sequences or an excessive dose of glamour.

While this has resulted in saddling her with a homely image of a girl next door, it has not really hampered her progress in any of the languages that she works in. The fate of the Malayalam films that are on the floors will go a long way in determining her future in the industry and the success of her last Tamil film could also land her more assignments in Kollywood. Mamta, however, is not overly worried because she has her signing assignments and her TV show to fall back upon.

Mamta is yet to work with the big guns in the Malayalam film industry, like Priyadarshan, and with acclaimed directors like Shankar and Mani Ratnam in Tamil, and is keeping her fingers crossed, hoping that she would be able to work with them in the near future.