Tough way to success

relentless

Tough way to success

It took her mother’s death for Vidya Murthy to begin acting once again. “When my mother passed away, I went into a shunya state; completely lost. My husband, Narasimhamurthy, became very concerned and wanted to bring me back to normalcy. Since I had a liking for plays, he suggested that I should use theatre to come out of my slump,” explains Vidya.

Vidya’s acting had earlier been confined to plays in school and college. “I was in the first batch of NMKRV College.” Its famous principal C M Mangala was known to encourage students who were not very good academically. She fervently believed those who obtained lesser marks also needed to “experience what it was to study at a good college. She admitted me in her college only because of my skills as an actor and debater.”

It should have been a natural progression for the young Vidya into professional acting and other creative activities after college. Surprisingly, her family forbade it. “My mimicry, acting and all these activities were never encouraged at home. As long as it was in school and college, it was fine. My family made it clear that after my marriage, it was up to my husband’s family. But until then, I could not take part in public activities. And even after my marriage, although my husband did not have any objection, my father-in-law did not like it,” says Vidya.

She had given up on her acting interests by the time she got married, but she used to watch a lot of acting on Doordarshan. “Television had come to Bengaluru around 1983, and I used to watch everybody acting, and lamented at how I was not able to do all that,” she reveals. During her college days, Vidya used to accompany her brother, Jagadish, a bharatanatyam dancer, as a background singer. Vidya states, “The Nataranga theatre group was performing Kakanakote then, and my brother had a song to perform in the play. Incidentally, my brother used to be a part of the Bangalore Histrionics Club, and he used to perform female roles. And since NMKRV College was an all-women’s institution, I used to play all the male lead roles! And when they offered me a role in Kakanakote that was originally played by Girija Lokesh, my brother refused to allow me to accept it. I thought all doors to my acting career were closed forever.”

Love for drama

Fast forward to when she was completely depressed over her mother’s death, and was hoping that acting would help her lift her gloom. “I had no idea how to contact people to get back into acting.” A Kannada literature, economics and psychology student, she was a part of a writers’ group, and used to write poems and short stories. The group had gone to see the play Barrister Ramachandra, being performed as a part of the centenary celebrations of the pioneering woman Kannada writer and poet, Tirumalamba. The play was directed by the then Jayanagar National College principal, Geeta Ramanujam. “I met her after the play and expressed my interest in acting. I was around 36 years old then, with a 13-year-old-son, and full of doubts about making a comeback. But Geeta was most encouraging.”

About a week later, Geeta called Vidya and asked her whether she would be interested in acting in a film being directed by the famous director G V Iyer, who was doing a film called Bhagavad Gita. “I went to meet him along with my husband and son. Since I was a Sanskrit scholar in school, I had no problem with the language.”

However, Vidya was not comfortable with the scene suggested, which required her to be intimate with a man. “I refused point blank.” That was her first experience with the world of professional acting.

A week later, Geeta called to enquire about her experience. She consoled her, saying that she would be casting her in Masti Venkatesha Iyengar’s play Yashodhara, where she would be playing the title role. When she balked at the enormity of the task of stepping on to the stage with a main role, she was asked to do the role of Aamrapali. “It came out quite well, despite a few small errors. My father-in-law and others who had opposed my entry as an actor had already passed away by this time — that’s why I could accept the offer. The play was much appreciated and I was soon acting in plays with Muthuswamy, D K Padmanabhan and others,” says Vidya.

One thing led to another, and soon she was working in Ravi Kiran’s TV serial Shakthi, where she played veteran actor Loknath’s wife. Vijay Shakthi played her elder son in the same serial, and in her next TV outing, T N Seetharam’s Kathegara, she was paired opposite the same Vijay Shakthi!

Realistic portrayals

Today, Vidya is an actor known for her ‘natural’ portrayals on screen. Shivaram Magadi of the Janumada Jodi directorial team says, Vidyamma (as he calls her) has made a name for herself for her dedication to acting. “She improvises her lines on the spot. She is a natural actor.” To this, Vidya says, “I used to watch Anant Nag, Vaishali Kasaravalli, Girija Lokesh and Bhargavi Narayan — actors known for their natural portrayals. I feel the more natural we are, the more people connect with us. I was also lucky to get directors like Girish Kasaravalli and others.”

Today, she says, the whole scenario has changed. “There is no importance given to language or acting. Some directors, not all, don’t even know the language. So, how can they guide actors? Nowadays, all you have to do is to come and memorise the lines, spew it out and leave. They often don’t call seniors like us because we impose  many restrictions. So, they call youngsters instead,” she rues.

She has a final word about TRPs and the alleged role they play in the way serials are being dragged on, “Whether it is true or not, we have all become victims of TRPs and the mega-serial culture.” Despite her tough analysis of the TV industry, there is no doubt that Vidya Murthy will always find a special place in the hearts of the people — as a natural actor who fought the odds to get to where she is today.

Liked the story?

  • 1

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry