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March 13, 2000


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'I crave for attention'

Rambha To be a glamorous heroine and to maintain the image for seven long years is a difficult proposition in the current Indian film scenario, what with so much competition around. But Rambha has managed to do precisely that. And she has no intention of relinquishing her position now.

Giving up her studies in the eighth standard, when she was barely 15, Rambha was only too eager to face the arclights. Name and fame are all that mattered to her. She embarked on a journey from her hometown Vijayawada to stardom with her maiden venture, Sargam, a Malayalam movie which released way back on November 28, 1992.

Though her first film didn't do too well, she didn't give up.She was soon spotted by director E V V Satyanarayana who cast her opposite Rajendra Prasad in her first Telugu film, Aa Okkati Adakku. The first thing the director did was change her name from Vijayalakshmi to Rambha.

The film was a roaring success. Since then, she has acted opposite all top heroes of Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam cinema. She has also acted with several top stars of the Hindi film industry, including Salman Khan and Govinda. Her latest film Krodh, in which she is paired opposite Sunil Shetty, releases this week.

With 60 films under her belt, Rambha now feels more secure. She has achieved her cherished goal of being a celebrity, of being recognised and mobbed on the streets. After a long gap, she returns to Telugu cinema with S V Krishna Reddy's Kodandaramudu opposite Chakravarthy.

Forthright and frank in her views, Rambha doesn't want to hide anything. "I want to be frank, I don't want to give diplomatic replies," she tells S Ravi Kennedy. Excerpts from the conversation.

You have consistently been doing only glamourous roles. Any reason for that?

Actually, it is very difficult to be a glamorous heroine. Glamour sustains only for some time. This is my seventh year, and I'm happy that I am still continuing and maintaining my glamorous image. May be, I should say I am lucky.

You said it is difficult to maintain the glamourous image -- how is it so?

Yeah, it is very difficult, and I am happy that one of the most difficult things is happening to me. See for every girl, there is a certain age where she looks beautiful -- when she is a teenager. After that she looks mature.

I think that I still look like a teenager. One should also be able to carry off what one wears. Whether you wear a saree or a modern dress, it should look good on you. Some women look good only in sarees, dresses don't suit them. But I can carry myself off in all kinds of clothes.

But for how long?

As long as I look glamourous. I think I will stay for another four years.

Don't you feel the need for a change?

Rambha In Kodandaramudu, my role requires more talent than glamour. This is my first film with S V Krishna Reddy. For the first time, I am playing a different role. It's not a negative role. There is a lot of scope for acting. There is glamour in the film, but it's of a different kind, and I like it.

Do you mean to say you are in a transition?

Actors or actresses don't need to prove themselves throughout the film. You can prove yourself in one scene. I did the Telugu film, Hitler, an out-and-out Chiranjeevi film, where I had just about 12 or 15 scenes. But those scenes stood out. There was a comic element to my character and people liked it. That's why I say that one or two scenes are enough to show your talent.

How does it feel to know that people come to see just Rambha in a film?

I like it very much. When I entered the filed, I used to dream that people should come to see me. Every artiste has this dream, though he or she may not admit it. When I go out, I want people to recognise me. I've been like that since I was a child, I crave for attention. As a kid, whenever I wore a new outfit, I wanted everyone's attention. I used to wait until people said, 'Wah! What a dress you are wearing!' Now I am kind of used to it. But still I want people to recognise me and they do now -- they come for my autographs wherever I go.

Is it necessary to expose to survive in this profession?

See, there are different kinds of audiences. Some see heroines as their girlfriends, some imagine them to be their neighbours and some come to see us wearing just minis and midis. Nowadays, all college-going girls also wear such clothes. The important thing is to be able to carry off a particular dress. You should know how to walk in them. You should not look vulgar. You should look cute and attractive. Besides, you should be aware of the camera angles. Luckily, I have worked with good cameramen who advise me on the angles, and I stick to them.

How do you feel to be labelled as a sex bomb?

(Blushes and takes a long pause) I do like the label, but I want people to see me as a cute, attractive and glamourous heroine. Yes I did wear swimsuits in my films, but that's a job I had to do.

Do you have any dream roles in mind?

I don't have any dream roles. Whatever I am doing are my dream roles.

Do you still go and watch your movies in disguise?

I used to go to movies wearing a burkha. And I still do that. Lot of people say that they have lost their privacy, but I don't feel restricted at all.

Nowadays you don't seem to be doing too many Telugu films...

When I lived in Madras, nobody recognised me since I was doing only Telugu films at that time. Tamilians don't watch Telugu films. I wanted name and fame and wanted to be recognised even in Madras. So I did a Tamil movie. Hindi films also happened, simultaneously. After that, if I hadn't done more films in those languages, people would have said that 'she had come to do just a couple of films and now she's gone.'

Rambha and Sunil Shetty in Krodh Now I get noticed even in Bombay. Right now I am doing three Hindi films -- two with Govinda and one with Sunil Shetty. As for Telugu films, I do them whenever I get a good role and a film.

How difficult is acting?

With each film I feel like a newcomer. I keep telling myself, 'Let's start, let's try and do better.' It's the same, but every time it appears to be new to me. Acting is like a job to me and I do work hard to keep it up.

What part of this job do you enjoy most?

I like the acting part. You know the emotional scenes. I also like doing comedy. See, only an actor or actress can go through all the emotions. A normal person, due to circumstances, will be forced to deal with certain situations and circumstances. But only an actor will go through all such situations in the stipulated time in different scenes. Whenever we have to cry, we do that. We laugh when we have to. Normally others may not get a chance to do so.

As a newcomer you had to expose a lot -- how did you deal with that?

In the beginning, you can't say no to directors. If you say no, then they too will definitely say no to you. But since I felt comfortable in sarees and modern dresses, I could carry it off well.

What is your favourite attire?

Jeans and short tops. At home, I am either in jeans or salwar kameez. Sometimes, I wear sarees for family functions.

You have gone on record saying your favourite actor is Chiranjeevi, right?

I don't want to be diplomatic here. Though I work with all the heroes -- and they are all nice and cooperative -- I still maintain that I am a fan of Chiranjeevi's. Since childhood, you have one image, and I used to admire Chiranjeevi a lot. When I got a chance to act opposite him, I couldn't believe it.

Unfortunately, I was not well during the shooting of the film (Alludaa Majaaka). Once he came to know of it, he was extremely cooperative and advised me to take rest. Very nice of him. I like his dancing and I had to do a lot of homework to match his steps.

Didn't he offer you a role opposite him in his latest Hollywood flick?

No. You don't expect me to go after roles now. He knows me, if he thinks I am suitable for a particular role, then he will call me.

Which are your favourite films?

All my films are my favourites. But I liked myself in Bombay Priyudu. Though it had not done well, I look very beautiful in it. Then there are Hitler and Bavagaru Bagunnara (both Chiranjeevi starrers).

Where do you place yourself in the numbers game?

Everyone should try hard to be number one. Yeah, I'd say I am number one...

You mean in the South or in India?

May be, in the whole country (laughs).

You are not being modest. How can you say India when there are so many others trying to be number one?

You know when I go to Switzerland, so many people come to watch me. So, I am known internationally (laughs again)! I am proud of the fact that I am known all over the world.

Who is your dream man?

I don't dream about him at all. See, when he comes in person and turns out not like what I have dreamt of, then I'll be very disappointed. If something has to happen, then it will happen. So why keep thinking about him?

And hasn't it happened yet?

I'll be frank with you. You know when I am working with most of my heroes, I look into their eyes and think, 'should my dream man's eyes be like this, should his face look like this?' Then I tell myself, 'no no, let him come, then we'll see.' Everybody dreams with some face in mind, but I do it with a blank face.

What's your greatest asset?

When I meet people, even if they are my enemies, I smile at them. My innocent face and my smile are my assets.

Any regrets for not continuing with your studies?

Bavagaru Bagunnara No, I don't like studies at all (laughs). As a kid, I used come up with new ideas every day to avoid going to school. Had I continued with studies, I wouldn't have gained so much confidence. Maybe I would have ended up with a job and wouldn't have made a name and fame for myself. Now, within a few years, I have got all this (snaps her fingers).

Do you have any bad habits?

I hate getting up early in the morning. Even now, my mom has to wake me up. If someone doesn't wake me up, then I can sleep all day. But once I am up, I do all the normal household chores. I even wash my clothes and my bathroom, feed my dog.

Any plans of losing weight?

(Laughing loudly) For the last seven years, people have been telling me to reduce weight. But I didn't. I don't diet and have no plans to do that. But when I am at home, I do go out for a walk, that's all!

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