Sanchana Natarajan: Playing the female lead is my next destination

In this conversation, Sanchana Natarajan opens up about Paingili from Jigarthanda Double X, her roles so far in cinema, her road map and more 
Sanchana Natarajan: Playing the female lead is my next destination

Though Sanchana Natarajan has done a couple of interesting roles in films like Nota, Game Over and Sarpatta Parambarai, she was best remembered by the masses for her limited screen presence in Karthik Subbaraj-Dhanush's Jagame Thandhiram. The actor has once again made heads turn with her impactful portrayal of the tribal girl Paingili, interestingly in yet another Karthik Subbaraj directorial Jigarthanda Double X.

Though she shot close to 35 days without a break for the film, a sizable amount of her footage failed to make it to the film. "Let alone my scenes, we also shot scenes with the tribal villagers narrating their stories. But there’s only so much that can make it to the film," she says.

The one scene that particularly felt disjointed for many audiences is the pre-climax portion where SJ Suryah's Ray Das and her Paingili tie the knot all of a sudden. "We had scenes suggesting that our love was blossoming over time," she explains, "In fact, there’s a scene in between the 'Oyyaram' song where Allius comes to Paingili and convinces her that Ray Das is the right match for her."

Did the chopping off of the scenes disappoint her? "Whatever is there on paper does not necessarily translate onto the screen. It's a gamble that no actor can escape from. The portions of a veteran like Khushbu were removed from Vaarisu to make way for a shorter runtime. This is a common practice in cinema."

However, Sanchana goes on to share how she ensures that her role makes it to the final cut, even though briefly at times. "When I choose a script, I check whether the character is integral to the story. Though the percentage of my screen time is not in my control, I know that my character cannot be entirely cut out," she reveals.

Paingili marked Sanchana's first outing as a tribal girl and it came with its own set of challenges.  "I have not shot in a hilly region before, and am terrible at putting up with the cold weather. It was physically demanding, as the character was also unique. Paingili is not a very dramatic or expressive woman. She is silent and reserved, so it took me some time to get into the skin of the character," shares Sanchana, adding that she, including other actors, underwent training to master the dialect and body language of the tribals. "We shot in a place called Thandikudi, which is two hours away from Kodaikanal. At the workshop, we spent time with the tribe of the region to better understand their community and lifestyle."

Although she entered the industry nine years ago with Nerungi Vaa Muthamidathe, Sanchana has been quite unhurried with the volume of her films. From playing the lead in Kaiyum Kalavum to being part of dance numbers like 'Rakita Rakita' from Jagame Thandhiram, she has never shied from experimenting with her roles. "The biggest drive for me to pick a character irrespective of the screen time is the team I work with. Even if my presence in Jagame Thandhiram was limited to a song, getting the opportunity to work with Dhanush sir, Santhosh Narayanan sir and Karthik Subbaraj sir is huge. The fact that they chose me for the part, means that I am in the right direction, making the right moves. Regardless of the size, opportunity is an opportunity."

Coming up, Sanchana has one Malayalam and two Tamil films in the lineup. "I have Tiki Taka in Malayalam, with Asif Ali in the lead. I play a cop in the film. In Tamil, I have Bejoy Nambiar’s Por and another film titled Bottle Radha alongside Guru Somasundaram, produced by Pa Ranjith sir and directed by Dhinakaran Sivalingam. It is currently doing rounds in the festival circuits."

Like any other actor, Sanchana too has a dream. "It changes from time to time. At the moment playing the female lead in films is my next destination," she signs off. 

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