May 26, 2011 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
Andrea, are you a Tamilian? Anyone else in the family who's into singing? I hear you've got into a singing career very early in life, who's been your source of encouragement for being independent and enterprising?
Well, I was born and spent most of my early life in and around Chennai, so I guess that makes me Tamilian, though strictly speaking, I am Anglo-Indian. And yes, I've been singing ever since I can remember. There are no professional musicians in my immediate family but each of my mother's brothers do play an instrument so that must count for something!
As for me being independent, I've always been my own person, right from my childhood. I have made my own choices in life and my parents have never aggressively opposed any of my choices, even though they didn't quite agree with me. So whether I'm on the right or wrong track, I have only myself to blame!
A brief history of ur family
I was brought up in a nuclear family though I have tons of cousins on both sides and I'm very attached to my grandmother! My dad is a practicing lawyer at the High Court in Chennai and my mom has devoted herself to being a mom! I have a younger sister who currently lives and works at Leuven, Belgium as a research assistant.
Your childhood memories of being recognized as a singer and when did you decide to make singing and acting as your career?
I assume that being 'recognized' refers to the recognition of talent, and not of me as a personality! And like I said, when you've been singing right from the start, it doesn't seem like an unnatural thing. I never thought of it as a 'gift' or talent. It just felt like the most normal thing in the world to me. I suppose that's how it feels to any artist who has grown up with their art!
And I wasn't pro-active about being a singer or an actor until I had completed my 12th board exams. Until then, I had wanted to be a psychiatrist and I had the marks to prove it, I was quite a geek! Then I woke up one day and thought to myself - I have one life to live so I'd better start doing things that make me happy instead of setting out to acquire a stable profession that would please my parents and society.
So I took a huge gamble and I'm still waiting for it to pay off! I know I'm nowhere near where I want to be but I also know that I am slowly and steadily working towards it.
How many films have you done and in what span? Would you like to be known as a singer or an actress and how have you grown as an actor? How would you rate yourself as an actress and also as a singer?
I have only done 2 films thus far! It's a pathetic number for anyone who has been in the industry for 4 years. Then again, I'm not trying to build up a grand total. It's also because both films I did took a long time to make, the first took 9 months and the second took 2 and half years to release! But it's also because I'm constantly weighing the pros and cons of being a film actor.
The fact that I want to be an actor doesn't change, because I know for a fact that I am talented and hard-working. But it takes a lot more than that to be a competitive actor in this industry. I think the fact that I've never been desperate about getting work has helped me a lot. People can sniff out desperation and there's nothing worse than being at someone's mercy!
Also, I pay no heed to the 'shelf-life' syndrome. It's drilled into every actor's head that she has a shelf-life and she must make as much money and do as many films as she can while she is on the shelf. It's like grabbing what you can when the store has a special offer! But I think that's a horrible way to view work!
I do get paranoid sometimes about whether I'm doing the right thing by being cautious, but at the end of the day, I know that if I don't do things my way, I'll never be able to live with myself and that's the most important thing in the world to me.
Could you tell us how the idea of starting a company for propitiating art and artists trigger? What is it's status now?
I started out being a theatre actor and of course I've performed live at music shows. So live performance is very important to me, more as a singer than an actor. Sadly, live performance doesn't get it's due in this country, unless it's a film-related event. And that's why we started TSMGO, to promote live art. But we took a conscious decision to let it lie low for sometime until we gather enough resources and man power to get it going again on a grander scale.
When we first started, I went in person to the Police Commissioner's office to get permission for our show and have spent many nights at the printer's office waiting for tickets and posters to get ready. But I can't do that now! So until we can find a team that we can trust 100%, TSMGO remains in hibernation.
How is your career in Tamil movies shaping up? Would you like to do Telugu films as well? Is this the first time you've been to Hyderabad, your impressions of this city and telugu films
I don't know how my career is shaping up! I haven't done a film in a while for many, many reasons but I've been doing a lot of singing and that's made me very happy. And at first I was very hesitant to do films outside of my comfort zone, but I've come to realize that film itself is the language of communication, and as long as I'm working with a talented and professional team, I'm open to films in any language!
I will make their lives miserable though, because I will want to learn my lines and I will want to know the meaning of everything I'm saying and I will try my hardest to dub for myself because I think all these things are just as important as my physical presence onscreen!
As for Hyderabad, I think it's a rocking city! I've stayed at Hyderabad for long schedules, mostly at Film City, and of course whenever I got a day or even an evening off, I used to drive into the city. It's a very well-planned city, great infrastructure, lots of good restaurants and the only trump card Chennai has over Hyderabad is the beach!
How would u describe yourself, your philosophy in life
I'm a bundle of contradictions, I think everyone is, in some way! It's hard to be consistent to a way of life or a way of thinking, irrespective of what life throws at you. But some things never change about me and they never will. I am extremely honest, extremely impatient and short-tempered and probably the worst liar in the world. A fourth standard kid could lie better than me!
When I do something I'm consumed by it, and so I never take on something unless I know I will do it well. I never say anything unless I mean it 100% and the downside is that I expect other people to be the same way, but of course 99% of the world's population isn't, so I'm always being disappointed by people. Maybe that's why I tend to keep to myself and have very few friends, but I'm very loyal to them and would do anything, absolutely anything for them.
I am a strong believer in Fate and Destiny, I'm a huge romantic, nature-lover, chocoholic and foodie, and the one thing everyone who knows me agrees upon is that I'm a free spirit who lives life on her own terms!