Rohini: I really admire Traffic Ramasamy’s courage
The veteran actor is collaborating with actor-director SA Chandrasekhar after 30 years in this week’s release — Traffic Ramasamy
Rohini admits to not having watched last year’s Magalir Mattum. She, however, smiles at the similarity of her role, Papamma (in Magalir Mattum, 1994), to the one she played in the successful Velaikkaran. While she played a maid who dodges her lustful boss in the former, her character recounts a similar experience to her son in the Sivakarthikeyan-starrer. “It’s more like how Papamma’s life would be after having a son. But Papamma was a jovial character comparatively,” she says.
The veteran actor was recently seen in last week’s Goli Soda 2, in which she played the role of a strong single mother. “It’s been appreciated,” says Rohini and when asked why filmmakers seem to choose her for such characters, she replies, “They look at me like that, I suppose. I’ve got two more films coming up in which I play similar roles. But, just like how every mother is different, I want each role to have a different texture.”
Speaking about Traffic Ramasamy, the biopic of the social activist, Rohini says it’s not the script but the idea behind the film that excited her. “I took an emotional decision to be a part of this film. I really admire his courage, and I thought there will be a realistic aspect to the film if I got on board. It’s not a huge role. I play a regular homemaker who stands up when it matters. It’s a character present throughout the film,” says the actor, who is well-versed with the life history of Traffic Ramasamy. “We’ve taken the character of Traffic Ramasamy and made it more interesting by adding a few elements.”
Interestingly, she worked under SA Chandrasekhar’s direction in the 1984 Telugu film, Devanthakudu, and now, of course, she plays the female lead opposite him in Traffic Ramasamy. “When I worked with him 30 years back, I was very young. I don’t remember any experiences with him from back then (laughs).” But Rohini heaps praise on her co-star for the way he works. “He’s an energetic person. He’ll work from 5 am till 1 am. We’d be fatigued, but he’d always be on the move. His passion for filmmaking and planning is inspiring.”
Rohini made her debut with the Telugu film Yashoda Krishna back in 1975 as the five-year-old Lord Krishna. Ask her how her experience has been over the last 40 years and she calls it “quite engaging and interesting.” She feels an actor’s job is completely different from other professions. “There’s so much variety when it comes to being an actor. One gets to travel a lot and meet all kinds of people. It also teaches you to manage people and situations — not to mention the aspect of creating something new every day. This industry is not only exciting, but also addictive,” she says.
The actor feels that though the Indian film industry has evolved technically, “the stories we write, which should’ve changed a long time back, are only changing now. We’ve got a long way to go and considering the number of films coming out of the Indian film industry, we’re not making too many good films. Countries which make just a handful of films a year do better than us. How they take on quality subjects and execute them with limited resources is amazing.” She believes the change took so long as the audience is used to a certain format. “We’re struggling to break out of that mould, but fortunately, many young filmmakers are thinking out of the box.”
Apart from acting, Rohini is also a director, lyricist and a dubbing artist. “I decided that I wanted to become a filmmaker even before I got married so I started to engage in writing and learning music. To understand all the aspects of filmmaking, I tried my hand with different departments,” says the actor, who doesn’t agree that those skills have taken a backseat in her life in recent years. “I’ll never say no to anyone who wants me to write for them. I was offered the chance to write mega serials but I wasn’t interested with that. I’m now being offered web-series which I may consider.”
But that doesn’t mean she wants to shy away from the small screen altogether. “As I play a character in the big screen, I wanted to be myself on TV. That’s why I chose talk shows over serials or game shows.”
Her directorial venture, Appavin Meesai, is yet to hit the screens. “People are sure to have an idea about what a film by Rohini will be like, and Appavin Meesai has all of that. My next project though will be completely different. It’ll go on the floors by the end of this year,” says Rohini, who is also making waves in the Telugu industry. “I look for characters which are important for the flow of the film. The films I get in Telugu are more interesting than the ones from Tamil... like Rangasthalam and my upcoming film with Rahul Ravindran,” says the actor, who is also part of the big-budget Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy.