Sudhaa Chandran revisits Mayuri: ‘I was crying, director said if I am not happy shooting they’ll send me back’

Versatile actor Sudhaa Chandran says she had least interest in shooting her debut film Mayuri because that would keep her away from her college friends and Mumbai for several days. “I thought why do I have to go to Hyderabad to shoot a movie? I remember it was the most heart-breaking experience for me flying out of Mumbai.”

Mayuri (1985) was inspired by Chandran’s own story of perseverance and strong will where she followed her passion, dance, despite a life-altering mishap where she lost one leg.

This was 37 years back. Sudhaa Chandran eventually went on to become a name in the field of acting, having played memorable characters Ramola Sikand in Kaahin Kissii Roz and Yamini in Naagin.

On the occasion of Kaahin Kissii Roz completing 35 years sometime back, Chandran got candid about how she landed her first project Mayuri where she faced the camera with some of the veterans of Telugu cinema.

On landing Mayuri

I was 16-17 and just entered college. There were no auditions at that time. Directors and producers took the ultimate call. I really don’t know why actors of 35 years experience have to go through auditions today, which is stupid.

Ramoji Rao heard of me when I started dancing with an artificial limb. He always made very different films, so he wanted to make one on my life story. They initially called me not with the intention of casting me, but to hear my first-hand narration and experience. They wanted to use a popular Telugu heroine for the film. Director Srinivasa Rao felt it should be made with me instead. That was a shocker for me! I always thought the industry was not a safe place for the women, which was a wrong thinking. I discussed it with my family. My father wanted me to do it as it was not just entertainment but an inspirational movie. Even my friends forced me to do it as they wanted to see my posters all over Andhra and Mumbai.

mayuri film sudha chandran Mayuri was dubbed in Malayalam and Tamil as Mayoori and remade in Hindi as Naache Mayuri (1986) starring Sudhaa Chandran only. (Photo: Express Archives)

On her first day on set

I’m a Tamilian and Telugu was a new language. Ramoji Rao, the owner of the Ramoji Film City, was the producer. When I landed in Hyderabad, I didn’t know what acting and filmmaking was. All I wanted to know from the director was if they’d finish it in 15 days as I was missing my friends in Mumbai. I was even crying. So, if you see my first scene shot in Mayuri, you’ll find that glitter in my eyes because I was very upset. The director told me if I’m not happy working for two days, they’ll send me back. That’s how I started shooting.

On the first day, my mother woke me up at four in the morning. The makeup man did simple makeup. The hair dressed told me I need to wear a wig. I thought I looked very pretty even with that little makeup. They said I can wear any salwaar kameez and just come. We were shooting at the Banjara Hills. It was a bungalow that belonged to Ramoji Rao sir. My first interaction was with three icons – Mr. PL Narayana, Y Vijaya and Nirmalamma. I was fortunate enough to share screen space with three veterans at one time.

On shooting her first scene 

In the scene, I come down and say I’m going to college. I pick up my bag. My stepmother in the movie is very superstitious. My brother sneezes or something and she says now I can’t go to college. They kept an easy scene because they wanted me to understand what acting was about. But I was never nervous about anything. I was from the stage so I never had any fear.

sudha chandran mayuri film Sudhaa Chandran with Nirmalamma in a still from Mayuri. (Photo: Express Archives)

On her best memory from Mayuri

The journey has been so beautiful, from being gawky to becoming a professional. This is something I want to relive it again.

On her rapport with the cast and crew after the film released

When I came back to do a Telugu serial after 35 years, look at my fate, I started shooting at Ramoji Film City. Whenever I come to Hyderabad, I make it a point to meet Ramoji Rao sir. And it’s always a big thank you because today whatever I’ve achieved, the foundation was laid by him. I seek his blessings and thank him for all that he gave me.

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On her love for cinema

I was a hardcore Hindi film buff. My weekends were only for films. I used to go with my dad and mom and watch every film in town. The only English films that I’ve probably seen are Gandhi, Saturday Night Fever and maybe The Towering Inferno. I was a great fan of Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini. I’ve seen even his flop films 15 times. I was such a fan, I wondered why they didn’t get married (laughs). For me they were the ultimate romantic pair. When I met Hema ji, I told her this. She gave a cute smile.

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