Hansika: I want to act till my last breath

Ahead of the release of her landmark 50th film, Maha, Hansika reveals that she has now become more serious about her work and choices
Hansika: I want to act till my last breath

Maha is a special film in Hansika’s filmography for two reasons. It’s her 50th film as an actor and first as the titular character. Originally announced in 2018, the film’s release has been delayed for so long that the actor has signed up ten more films during this period; Hansika addresses this in a lighter vein. “Maha got delayed, but I believe it has its own destiny.” Teasing the essence of her character and the film’s script, Hansika says, “It’s the story of a mother’s struggle, and the lengths she goes to for the sake of her child. Essaying such a bold character is a first for me; I have never played an aggressive character before and wanted to see myself in such a role. In fact, the transition of my character—who starts off as a docile mother and is later pushed into becoming a bold woman—is central to Maha. I think it has come out very well.”

However, that this film marks her 50th, Hansika believes, means little to her. “A lot of people are exaggerating the fact that I have completed 50 films, but I don’t see this as a big deal. I was lucky to begin early, and Tamil cinema welcomed me with open arms. I have been acting for close to 20 years now, but I have to go further. I still feel like I have just embarked on this journey and aim to hit a century. Fifty is a small number, there’s more to come. I want to act till my last breath.”

The number of women-centric films in Tamil has witnessed a significant uptick post the popularisation of streaming platforms, beginning with Keerthy Suresh’s Penguin in 2020 to Nayanthara’s O2 last month. What separates Maha from the women-centric dramas that have come out in recent times? “Hansika!” the actor instantly responds, before putting forward a couple of questions to back her stand. “Have you seen Hansika in an aggressive character? Have you seen a film where Hansika is not dancing around? You haven’t. It is a unique film and the reason I did this film is because it challenged me,” she shares, before elaborating on why she felt the film demanded extra effort on her part. “I generally listen to scripts imagining how I would perform the role. However, when I first listened to the narration of Maha, I wondered how I would push myself to do it. I had to prepare myself for the role and a part of this process even included asking my mother questions to understand how it affects her when something happens to their child,” she says, adding on a personal note that her mother has remained her “backbone” throughout her career and life.

Early on, Hansika was boxed in the quintessential-female-lead-in-the-commercial-entertainer category, a space she has operated in for the majority of her career. Things are now changing, she says, as she gears up for the next phase of her career. Her upcoming slate of titles also indicates an inclination towards experimentation. There’s a single-character, single-shot film called 105 Minutes, which she calls “one of the most difficult films” she has ever shot, considering the tremendous amount of preparation and rehearsals—over 20 days. A comedy series titled MY3, that sees her essay a dual role, which she believes is “the dream of any actor”, and a film with director Igore, featuring action sequences, another first for her. “I usually don’t take scripts home, but this script is so bhaari (heavy) that it keeps playing in my mind, and I need time to calm myself down. It’s not just about the action sequences, but mentally too, it’s a difficult film.” She doesn’t believe she has a ‘comfort zone’ anymore. “I only think about my characters now; sometimes, I feel for them even after coming back home. Also, for women-centric films, you have to get out of your comfort zone,” she signs off.

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