Tamannaah: I don’t want to be the 'hero' of a film
The actor, who recently starred in Petromax, talks to us about her choice of roles and what it means to be a heroine in today’s times
Even as Tamannaah’s role as Lakshmi in Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy continues to be spoken about in high regard, she has come up with a contrasting role in Petromax, a horror-comedy that marks her return to a genre she is quite familiar with. "After doing films like Devi and Devi 2, I thought I’ll take a break from horror comedies. When Petromax was offered, I wasn't really interested initially, but when I saw the original Telugu film, Anando Brahma, I could see the freshness of the script,” she says. “When you do remakes, there will be comparisons, and this is something we kept thinking about even while filming. I believe though that we have done justice to the original." Despite Tamil cinema being inundated with horror comedies, Tamannaah believes that this ‘freshness’ means that the film stands out from others in the category.
Petromax, directed by Rohin Venkatesan (Adhe Kangal), stars a long list of comedians including Munishkanth, Kaali Venkat, Sathyan, and Trichy Saravana Kumar. “This is why I think it’s not fair to call me the hero of the film. The story is also about four strong comedians and their style of comedy. The beauty of the film is that I play a character that is integral to proceedings. I might not be seen throughout the film, but mine is an important character nevertheless," shares Tamannaah. “Even in Sye Raa, the duration of my role is not a lot, but it is a powerful role. As actors, we need to do interesting roles; the film need not be just about my character."
Starring in a film like Petromax soon after the big-budget Sye Raa brings to the fore questions about Tamannaah's decision to headline a 'small film’. “I don’t observe any differences between a big film and a small film. It is ultimately about what's good, and what's not. Different films demand different budgets,” she says. “Even from a business perspective, it makes market sense to do films like this.” The actor will next be seen in the Vishal-starrer, Action. “I wanted to do a jolly film after Sye Raa, so I did Petromax. I’m doing Action, and then there’s the Telugu film with Gopichand in which I play a kabaddi coach. I'm happy my filmography shows much variety. My idea is to constantly serve up films not expected of me.”
2019 has indeed been fruitful for the actor, who began the year with the blockbuster success of her Telugu film, F2 - Fun and Frustration. "Following it with Seenu Ramasamy sir's Kanne Kalaimaane in Tamil, and then Sye Raa, and now Petromax… I like how my career is shaping up," says Tamannaah, who insists there is no ‘big plan’ to pick only heroine-oriented films. “It is not like I only want to do commercial films or heroine-oriented scripts. I take up each project on its merit. But yes, I do want to play certain kind of characters. Like, if ever there is a Sridevi biopic, I'd love to play her. I would also love to do an out-and-out dance film."
On the topic of Petromax, it was imperative to ask Tamannaah if she knew the reason behind the unconventional title. "When Rohin and me were discussing about prospective titles, Rohin suggested 'Petromax'. I had no clue what it meant, and enquired about the same. He then explained to me about Goundamani sir's comedy, and later, I looked it up. I was in splits. This is a quirky film and it deserved an equally quirky title."
Being in a position where her name in the film brings in a sizeable audience, Tamannaah believes it is also time to do away with the idea that a protagonist of a film necessarily needs to be the hero. “I don't want to be the Hero of the film. I am pretty, beautiful, and glamourous. I don't have to be strong and macho too. We need to change the notion that only the presence of a hero lends strength to a film. I am the heroine of Petromax. I don't need to exude heroism. If people say I am the heroine of a film, it should automatically mean I have a meaty, strong role to play. This generation's filmmakers, like Rohin, have that responsibility."