If you go back to doing what you did 20 years ago, based on the image that audiences have of you, you are going to fail, reckons Sandalwood’s Queen Bee, who is celebrating her birthday today.
Last Updated: 08.15 AM, Dec 05, 2022
Kannada actress Ramya was at the top of her game when she took an indefinite break from cinema to pursue something else she was passionate about – politics. After a brief stint as a Member of Parliament from Mandya and then as the social media head of a national party, Ramya was away from the arc-lights for nearly a decade. Throughout the years, her loyal fan following has been waiting on word about when she would return to cinema and enthral them as she has before. As the actress celebrates her 40th birthday, we speak to her about her comeback to films.
The good news that they were waiting for finally happened earlier this year, when Ramya announced the launch of her home banner, Apple Box Studios. Her initial plan was to get back to acting with a home production, the first of which was to be directed by Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana maker Raj B Shetty. But then she excused herself from the lead role, choosing instead to only produce the film, Swathi Mutthina Male Haniye, and figuring out what else to take up as her comeback vehicle.
Although, her fans were disappointed at this turn of events, Ramya soon enough announced her comeback film. The actress will be a part of director Rohit Padaki’s film for KRG Studios, Uttarakaanda, which has Daali Dhananjaya in the lead. The team announced her casting with a special video featuring her voice-over and had a subsequent official muhurtha too, even though the film will go on floors sometime early next year, after Dhananjaya completes his current commitment on Hoysala for the same banner. Speaking about the teaser, which had her speaking in the North Karnataka dialect, Ramya says, “In my first Kannada film, I played a girl from Hubballi and had to speak in this same dialect that I am now using in Uttarakaanda, which is my comeback movie. Director Rohit is from Dharwad and speaks the dialect that you hear in the teaser they released to announce that I will be a part of the film. He helped me with the pronunciations, but maintained that he wanted a cold, emotionless, dead-pan tone to how I say those lines. A lot of people appreciated my attempt, but there were some who thought I could have done it better. I agree that there is scope for improvement, and hopefully, by the time I start shooting for the film on location in North Karnataka, my grasp of that dialect will get even better.”
Film offers, says Ramya, didn’t dry up even when she was still actively involved in politics. “KGF: Chapter 1 and 2 were films that came to me; first for Srinidhi’s role and later for Raveena Tandon’s character. Rathnan Prapancha, Dhananjaya’s first film with KRG Studios and Rohit, had come to me, as did Pawan Kumar’s Dwitva, which was to star Puneeth Rajkumar, but then didn’t happen. I had said no to all these films and many more because of my single-minded focus on handling the social media pages of the party. I quit the party in 2019 and, contrary to a lot of rumours doing the rounds, there is no bad blood between me and the leadership, especially Rahul Gandhiji, which, I think, became clear when I joined him on one leg of the Bharath Jodo Yatra. I had quit for personal reasons, to focus on my health, both mental and physical. Once I quit, I wanted a break from everything and spent a year in Mumbai, followed by a few months in Goa. Amid this, the pandemic had also struck, and life was on stand-still for everyone. I returned to Bengaluru only in December 2021, at which point I had met Karthik Gowda and Yogi G Raj of KRG Studios, considering that they had approached me repeatedly with roles. They again broached the idea of a comeback, although it was not actively playing on my mind, but I told them that if there is a good script, we could talk about it. That is when I began listening to scripts again, but for a while, the ones I got were not the kind that I was kicked about. If I am making a comeback, it had to be different from what I had done earlier. Times have changed and so have I,” she reasons.
Among the many narrations she had, it was a basic line by Raj that caught Ramya’s attention. “We decided to collaborate with me producing the film and Raj directing. Although we initially thought that I would act too, once the final script was ready, the role felt better suited for a newer, fresher face. I read the script multiple times before taking that call, because I was giving up on a really good role. But then I felt that it is the film that is important. I can’t be selfish as an actor and insist that I do it. I listed my reasons for not wanting to do it, based on elements in the script, and once Raj heard me out, he also agreed that a relative newcomer would be better and that’s when he suggested Siri Ravikumar. By the time all these developments happened, Rohit had finalized his script of Uttarakaanda and the team asked me if I would be interested in this subject. I read the script and was literally blown away because this is something that I have never done before in my career. It would be an interesting role to play and I took it up,” says Ramya.
Uttarakaanda is a tale of the gangs of North Karnataka, so will her role be akin to that of Shruthi’s from Rathnan Prapancha? “No, no, Shruthi played a don. My character is not like that, it’s more khatarnak,” grins Ramya, adding, “I think I took up the role as my comeback because it is not something people would expect of me. See, when you make a comeback, it can be a little tricky. If you go back to doing what you did 20 years ago, based on the image that audiences have of you, you are going to fail because you can’t keep up to that expectation today. I wanted to do something that will give audiences a different image of me, not as Ramya, but what Ramya the actress can do. It’s time now for me to do roles that challenge me as an artiste and allow audiences to see a different me.”
But not meeting audience expectation based on an image they have of an artiste can also be tricky, right? “I agree and, therefore, the scripts that I choose have to guarantee that it is not a risk and generate a good expectation of me onscreen,” says Ramya, adding, “I can’t reveal too much about the script of Uttarakaanda, but when you watch the film you will realize why I took this decision.”