Sneha: I don’t believe in doing a female-centric film for its sake

The actor, who was recently seen in Pattas after a 3-year break, talks about balancing work and personal life, her two-decade-old career, and more 
Sneha: I don’t believe in doing a female-centric film for its sake

Sneha has now completed 20 years in the film industry. She still retains that childlike zest for cinema though, as is evident from her voice when she begins to talk about her recent release, Pattas. The excitement could be because she’s returning to Tamil cinema after three years with Pattas, or perhaps on account of completing two decades in the volatile world of cinema. The actor, who’s expecting her second baby in a month, says her excitement is because of a mix of all these factors. "I am glad a good script like Pattas had come my way. I have never been satisfied with what I had done in my earlier films and I used to find scenes where I know I could have done better. Out of the 80 films I have done, Pattas is a film that made me wonder if I could pull off my character," says Sneha.

Excerpts from the conversation:

It's been a while since we saw you in a Tamil film.

Apart from my personal commitments, I have also been quite choosy about the scripts that come my way. If I am sacrificing my personal time with my son, Vihaan, then the film better be worth it. Aiyo yen da intha padam panrom-nu thona koodathu. Until you pointed out, I did not even know that it's been three years since Velaikkaran. I am just going with the flow.

You called Pattas a challenging film. Are you in a place where you’d only like to do such films?

I've done it all, including cursory films that had me running around trees. Those days are long gone though. To be frank, there’s a duet with Dhanush even in Pattas, but the film has so many other things too. People might call this a comeback film, but I don’t believe in that word. After my wedding, I have begun taking life easy. My responsibilities as a mother and a daughter-in-law keep me on my toes, but I guess I could say that of being an actor too, especially at this juncture of my life.

While on challenges, we learn that you trained in martial arts for Pattas.

Adimurai is an old martial arts form. It’s relatively unknown and is older than forms like Silambattam. The way you have to move your body for it made it challenging for both Dhanush and me. Unlike in usual action sequences, we couldn’t just throw punches at people. Right from the knee position to which direction our feet and hands are supposed to be facing, we had to learn everything from scratch. Master Selvaraj from Kanyakumari, who runs an adimurai school, taught us over two months.

You are working with Dhanush again, after almost 15 years.

And how he’s grown during this time — as an actor, director, producer, lyricist, and singer. He is smart and knows the pulse of the audience. During the days of Pudhupettai, he would be content following instructions of the director but now, he knows how to make minor tweaks to make a scene better. Be it in Asuran or Vada Chennai, I was stunned by how he enacts his character. A lot of people criticised him during his early stages, and he has proved them all wrong. I am proud to have worked with him.

As Pudhupettai was a dark, intense film, we didn’t get too much time to talk on the sets back then. We were younger and frankly, almost overwhelmed by the challenge of that film. Pattas was a lot of fun. Dhanush even made recommendations to scenes to make them more comfortable for me. After Pattas, I can say that I found a good friend in Dhanush.

It's not often that female actors are offered characters on par with the male leads, and this is particularly true of actors who are married. Do you suppose our industry has changed for the better?

For that reason, I am really blessed to be a part of Pattas. At this point in my career, it's a big thing for me. I think it's something we have picked up from Bollywood, where married women are doing great roles. Jyotika is doing great with the kind of films she's doing. But it’s definitely true that opportunities are less for female actors after marriage; that needs to be broken.

I still get approached for female-centric films but they are yet to excite me. I see a lot of films in Malayalam and Hindi and I wonder why we don't make such films. I don't want to do a female-centric script for its sake. While doing Pattas, I was seven months pregnant, and so I haven’t taken on any other projects yet. I am not going to take up any projects for the next eight months.

It's been two decades since you stepped into the film industry.

Twenty years nu sonna odane romba conscious-a irruku, vayasu aagiduchonnu (laughs). It's been a great journey. Last year, while shooting for Vinaya Vidheya Rama, I was speaking with younger artistes, and some of them were upset with how things were shaping up in their career. I told them that some of us changed costumes inside an Ambassador car with curtains around. Even finding a restroom was a challenge when shooting in villages. Till my 10th film, the idea of a caravan had not yet taken off in our industry.

As I did not have a film background, the journey was not easy. I was just a girl studying in Dubai who was made to do films. I used to cry when I read gossip about me. All the experience during these twenty years has made me a stronger person.

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