After playing key roles in MAD, Vyvastha and Anni Manchi Sakunamule this year, Bindu Chandramouli will be next seen in Bubblegum
Foraying into cinema with a flurry of new-age films like Bandook, Pelli Choopulu, Pesarattu in 2015, Bindu Chandramouli has steadily made a mark as a bankable performer in Telugu cinema with time. Besides prior experience in theatre, she has carved her niche in the OTT space and had nearly a dozen releases this year. The actress hopes to end 2023 in style with Bubblegum on December 29.
“The best part in my journey so far, I’ve not set myself a goalpost to go past. I am here to learn, be relevant, trying to quench my thirst as an actor with every opportunity. I’ve always been a people’s person, I enjoy conversations and even at work, I’m full of questions and put a lot of thought into my craft. Some find it indulgent, but it’s only my effort to do justice to the role,” she remarks.
Many keep wondering why Bindu plays a mom on screen regularly and she also keeps getting the ‘you’re too young to do mother roles’ comment. “As an actor, I’ve nothing against playing a mother and I can only choose from what I get. The main issue is how the directors fail to look at us beyond a housewife or a mother, despite me breaking the mould in a Vyavastha, Ahimsa or a Swathimuthyam.”
She plays Saraswathi, a mother to a 20s something son, in Bubblegum and says director Ravikanth Perepu offered her abundant scope to lend her spin to the role. “It was refreshing when a director informed me a scene and asked how would I react to a scenario in reality and blended it with the script. Even with the dialogues, we were given the space to improvise and the focus was on impact.”
Bindu was often surprised, sometimes dissatisfied by her performance in the scenes. “Ravikanth wanted me to be in the moment and not overthink. I kept wondering if I went over the top in any of the scenes, but he would calm me up and ensure the right ambience on sets. He was very secure and open-minded and I would give him a major share of the credit if people like my work in Bubblegum.”
There are two sides to Saraswathi in Bubblegum - she’s a different person with her son and her husband. “Playing her reminded me of my own experiences as a mother. With her son, Saraswathi plays more of a ‘teacher’ role, goading and advising him, discussing right and wrong. When her husband is around, they have free-wheeling conversations, verbal banters. There was good variety.”
The actress feels she performed better in the presence of Jayram Eeshwar, a first-timer, cast as her on-screen husband. “We shared a similar camaraderie on and off screen. People had to remind us we were off-camera when the shot wasn’t on. He was roped in for his unique Telangana slang, I picked up many influences from him. Acting is ultimately reacting to a situation and it worked well for us.”
Bubblegum also has her sharing screenspace with debutants Roshan Kanakala, Maanasa Choudhary. How different are the conversations she has between youngsters and seasoned artistes? “There’s not much difference, honestly. Newcomers discuss work mostly and I must say that they come to sets prepared, thorough with their lines and I’m often surprised by their confidence.”
If Maanasa had a student-like approach to cinema, strictly adhering to her director’s guidelines, performing with sincerity, Roshan surprised Bindu with his attention to detail. “Many times, when I had doubts with a scene and Ravikanth was occupied, Roshan helped me attain more clarity. He was at ease in the emotional scenes and he’s here to stay.”
While Bindu has not watched the entire film yet, the best part about Bubblegum is the unapologetic characterisation, much like Krishna and his Leela, she says. “The story is quite impactful, relevant. Though the film is aimed for the youth, all the characters are well-defined, regardless of their screen time, and viewers will identify with them.”
She says the writing in Telugu cinema has vastly improved in the recent years with the emergence of several new-age storytellers. “Though the scope for character artistes in mainstream cinema continues to be limited, younger filmmakers are offering us roles with stronger identities and their approach to storytelling is more organic. We’re not merely reduced to props anymore.”
Yet she has a grouse that female character artists don’t get the variety of their male counterparts. “In the 80s and 90s, we had many supporting actresses who may not have huge roles, but made an impact within the limited time and contributed to a film’s appeal. The variety in roles was greater. It’s disheartening how women in many films are only sisters, mothers or sister-in-laws these days.”
“Some actors/directors say that setting up a scene with male actors is easier because of their camaraderie and there’s no worry about being politically correct with them. Men keep telling me that they too have their limitations in terms of roles, but the bar is even lower for actress. The change has to begin gradually at least.”