Varalaxmi Sarathkumar: The concept of Yashoda is both realistic and unique
The actor, who has hit a purple patch in Telugu cinema, talks about her packed shooting schedules, her physical transformation for Yashoda, her confidence, and more
Actor Varalaxmi Sarathkumar is perhaps one of the busiest actors in the Telugu film industry right now. "The love and the acceptance I have been getting from the Telugu audience has been tremendous. After Krack, Telugu filmmakers are offering me versatile roles and tapping my potential to the fullest. Some are even writing scripts keeping me in mind. I have been shooting almost every day," says Varalaxmi as she sits down for an interaction ahead of the release of her upcoming sci-fi thriller Yashoda.
While the focus of Yashoda is on Samantha, Varalaxmi shares that her character in the film is "crazy" and also made her go for the physical transformation that has been a talking point on social media. “When directors Harish and Hari narrated the script, the first question I asked them was, ‘How did you even think of such a script and a character like this?’ Yashoda is themed around the surrogacy racket. I am playing the head of a surrogacy facility and it’s a crazy role. It is a heavily layered role that cannot just be called positive or negative. You will see me in two different avatars — one in the present and the other as a college student for which I have lost 15 kilos. In fact, the weight loss idea was completely my call as I felt that the transformation would make complete sense for the part.”
With the topic of surrogacy currently in national-level discussions, Varalaxmi does point out that Yashoda is not a film that judges surrogacy. “Surrogacy is legal in many countries. It’s a process for those who can’t have children on their own, and there is no need to judge if it is right or wrong. Also, the concept in Yashoda is both realistic and unique,” she avers.
Yashoda is headlined by Samantha, and Varalaxmi clarifies that there was no worry about the former overshadowing her. “Firstly, I have been friends with Samantha for over a decade now. I always felt comfortable working with her and we both had a great time on the set. Our shoots were really chilled out as we used to crack jokes, and talk about films," says Varalaxmi, adding that as long as her character is substantial, nothing else matters. "I am not an insecure actor. I am comfortable working with anyone as long as I get a substantial role. When you are confident about yourself and do your job perfectly, everything will fall into place.”
When pointed out that her recent career has swerved very much into the grey zone, Varalaxmi laughs heartily and says she is trying to redefine her image with every film. “The whole concept of getting into a character, white, black, or grey doesn’t matter as long as it has substance. Look at Prakash Raj sir...he did many negative roles and yet he is a phenomenal actor. I look up to actors like him. In fact, I have also played the lead in many (Tamil) films, including Sabari, which is heading for release soon. I am a director’s actor and I am just doing my job. The directors are coming up with novel concepts and new characterisations. So I don’t have any inhibitions in taking up a role that suits me”
Varalaxmi is particularly excited about the role she plays in the Balakrishna-starrer Veera Simha Reddy, which is currently under production. In the film, she plays Duniya Vijay's wife and the role has... you guessed it right... shades of grey. “The film is a mass entertainer, and I play a very interesting character called Bhanumathi. Like Jayamma (from Krack), Bhanumathi too will be remembered for a long time," says the Pakka Commercial actor.
Apart from Veera Simha Reddy, Varalaxmi has a bunch of releases lined up, including the pan-India project Hanu Man, billed as the first superhero film in Telugu. “I am playing Teja Sajja’s sister in the film. For the first time, I tried my hand at comedy and also did some amazing fights. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time. This was my chance, and I seized it as soon as I heard the script.”
With back-to-back hits to her name, Varalaxmi asserts the importance of remaining grounded and being pragmatic about success in cinema. She shares that an actor's longevity is heavily reliant on the selection of her roles. “I would love to portray diverse roles. At the same time, I won't let myself get typecast. The Telugu film industry has given me a second chance as an actor. I want to entertain as much as I can,” she explains.
Up next, Varalaxmi is collaborating with Geetha Arts on a new film. "The film went on floors recently. It is directed by a newcomer named Teja, and stars Srikanth as the other lead. I am also doing a Tamil film called Kondral Paavam. Sundeep Kishan-starrer Michael too is ready for release," signs off an optimistic Varalaxmi.
Produced by Sivalenka Krishna Prasad, Yashoda is poised for a worldwide release in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi on November 11.