The season of comebacks
Top female actors who once ruled Telugu cinema are poised to return with some promising films
It seems to be the season of comebacks for female actors. Many of them, who were active in the 90s and 2000s, are all set to return to Telugu cinema. Among them are popular names likes Ileana D’Cruz, Bhagyashree, Supriya and Laya.
Bhagyashree, of course, made her debut in Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) opposite Salman Khan, with the success of this film making her an overnight sensation. She tentatively tested waters in Telugu cinema, and was last seen in the Balakrishna-starrer, Rana. Now, she’s returning with a part in the Telugu remake of Two States. She terms her return to be ‘dramatic. “It has been a pleasure to do a Telugu film again. Firstly, I’ve really enjoyed watching the Hindi version (of Two States) and I feel that people of all age groups will be able to relate to the story. I took on the film, as I was happy about the scope for performance, and also because I get to act with Shivani, the daughter of my first Telugu film Omkaram’s hero, Rajasekhar,” says the actor, who plays Shivani’s mother in the film. She hopes that her second innings in Telugu cinema will inspire women of her ages that they can be productive. “Lots of middle-aged women stop living their life and became lethargic about being fit. I hope that with roles like this, I can be a source of inspiration for such women. I want middle-aged women to identify themselves with my character and realise the importance of looking good and confident. They should understand that we still have a long way to go.”
Next in line for a return is Supriya, who made a sparkling debut opposite Pawan Kalyan in Akkada Ammayi Ikkada Abbayi (1996). And now 22 years later, she has a part to play in Adivi Sesh’s spy-thriller Goodachari that is set for release this week. The film’s director, Sashi Kiran Tikka, reveals that it wasn’t easy at all to convince Supriya to make a return with this film. “It was Sesh’s idea to get her on board for one of his films. We had a hard time casting her as she had no plans to act. She had previously refused to play ACP Jaya Bharadwaj’s role (played by Anasuya Bharadwaj) in Kshanam. After several meetings, we ultimately convinced her to do a test shoot and after seeing that video, she agreed. There was no workshop and I simply asked her to be at her real self… Like how she would handle operations at Annapurna Studios (laughs),” says Sashi Kiran. “She has a full-length role and amazed us with her performance.”
The biggest comeback, meanwhile, occurs in Ravi Teja’s upcoming Amar Akbar Anthony by Srinu Vaitla. It marks the return of Ileana, who was last seen in Devudu Chesina Manushulu (2012). Trade analyst K Deepak believes this to be a great time for Ileana to attempt a resurgence in Telugu cinema. “She has swept audiences with her performances in the past. She has dominated our industry and can pull off any kind of role. Her increased stature today helps a project garner more attention,” says Deepak.
The same film also marks the comeback of actor Laya, who last featured in Brahmalokam To Yamalokam Via Bhulokam (2010). “Considering major portions of the film were planned to be be shot in the US, the makers felt it made sense to bring in Laya, who was living there with her family. She’s been given a very unique role, a character that we are sure will surprise audiences,” confides a source from Amar Akbar Antony’s unit.
2018 looks set to bring back many familiar faces, actors we had assumed had moved on from our cinema. Their desire to return surely indicates the growth the industry has undertaken during their sabbatical. Deepak agrees, but also points to a shortage of strong heroines. “With Ileana back in the reckoning, that gap could get addressed,” he says.