Last Updated: 05.58 AM, Sep 14, 2022
Amala Akkineni was one of the most sought-after actresses in Tamil and Telugu cinema of the 90s. After taking a break from the industry, she made her comeback in 2012 in the Telugu and Hindi film industries. But with Shree Karthick’s latest sci-fi drama Oke Oka Jeevitham / Kanam, a Telugu-Tamil bilingual, she has returned to Kollywood after nearly three decades. In this 1-O-1 with Lahari Velichetti, Akkineni talks about her favorite movies, her take on the word ‘comeback’, her family’s reactions to Oke Oka Jeevitham, and a lot more.
What is a movie that is always close to your heart?
Gandhi (1982) was a film that deeply moved me. I am a fan of Sholay (1975) and Star Wars. I had a lot of fangirl moments like that but as a film, I was deeply moved by Gandhi. I had a host of emotions in me, and I didn’t quite know how to handle them but at least they were very inspiring. I think Gandhiji’s life was just so inspiring. And what a film it was!
What was the toughest decision you ever had to take?
The toughest decision was to walk away and to know when to walk away.
I read about this incident where in a shoot you were given awful costumes and you went to the makeup room and broke down. What was your state of mind?
I was young. Besides, when you are in your first big job in a new place or with new people, you will not be sure what you can say. I learned later on in life that women don’t necessarily holler or scream or punch the wall like men. Instead, they often express their anger and indignation through tears. So, when we weep, it is not that we are helpless, we weep because we are very angry.
About the incident, it was good for me that there were wonderful men around me, especially Nagarjuna. He took the clothes and dumped them in the dustbin. He said this is what you do and asked me to wear what I want. That’s a quote for any young woman going out for their career. If there is something you don’t want to do, don’t do it. Just say, “No, I’m not going to do this”.
What is your all-time favourite scene of Nagarjuna’s?
I loved Annamayya (1997), Sri Ramadasu (2006), and Shiva (1990). I also loved him in Geethanjali (1989), what a sensitive film that was. But for many reasons than one, if I want to watch a film over and over, it would be Manam (2014). The first reason is that it has my entire family. And Nag made the film, so I know how much hard work and effort he put into making this film. I know he wasn’t just the actor, he was the producer, he was looking after his sick father, he was looking into direction, etc. There was so much going on in his life, and what a beautiful film he made. That’s a film that represents everything my family is able to do and believes in.
When it is a no-shoot day and all of you guys are at home, what would you be doing?
There’s a lot to do at home. I read, do some housekeeping, do some laundry, or look into the menu for the day. I check if everybody can have a meal together. I spend some time with my mom playing scrabble. I play with my dogs or take a swim.
Do you remember where Nagarjuna proposed to you?
I do. We were in California and we were staying at a friend’s house. That’s when he proposed.
Is there something you gave up over the years and why?
I gave up eating meat. I turned vegetarian when I was 11 years old. Because between the age of 9 and 11, I understood the larger issue. I was eating animals that I believed I had so much concern and care for. So, I thought that if I truly care about them, I can’t eat their flesh. I turned vegetarian and I think that is the best decision I ever made.
We know Nagarjuna cooks when he is stressed, what does Amala do when she’s stressed?
I clean. Or I hit the gym — the endorphins help.
How do you see the word comeback? I ask this because I see you around all the time.
I agree. You have to go somewhere to come back. But I suppose in Tamil cinema they have used that word simply because I haven’t done a film since Karpoora Mullai (1991). So there is a 30-years gap. But with Kanam, I feel like I’ve come back home.
Nagarjuna once said that you both rarely have arguments, but how is that possible because two people might have a difference of opinion, right?
So, there is no law that you will love someone only if they are of the same opinion. We are all multidimensional, we have so many interests and preferences, and we are all unique human beings. I think mature love is about accepting that there is a complete difference. Like look at me, I’m half Irish and half Bengali. I’m a free thinker. How can we have the same opinion on everything? How can I be with a man who says my opinion is wrong? The relationship won’t last a day, forget about a lifetime. I think it’s about being mature to understand that everybody is different.
After watching Oke Oka Jeevitham, Nagarjuna and Akil were moved to tears. What did they say after watching the film?
That was such a special moment. I’m enjoying reliving it. So Akil came and gave me such a warm tight hug and whispered in my ear, “Amma I’m so proud of you”. Nag did the same, he gave me a hug and told me it was a beautiful film and that he is proud of me. I could feel his heart and I knew he was missing his mom. He had such a wonderful relationship with Annapurna amma. He was just missing his mother. So, I gave him a tight hug back. And the third person who hugged me was my own mother. She kept hugging me and said that she was very proud of me.