June 26, 2011 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
Prabha says, "Putting on the dark make-up, pulling my hair behind and knotting it tight and also dancing for Sivaji Ganesan gari's popular song with the band wasn't easy. To make matters difficult the director who is a perfectionist wanted me to dub, I had to use this particular Tamil slang, keep my face in one manner and scream the choicest epithets condescending to the level of the low class simultaneously. Mana vathavaranam asale kaadhu plus I had to keep pace with Ambika. Maatimaatiki caravan loki velli addham lo choosukunedhanni." At the end of the day, she is happy, her family is wondering if it was her and the Tamil audiences are referring to her as that 'dark girl' in the film.
Where was Prabha all these years? The actress kept doing small mother roles in Chala Bagundi, Kick, Nagavalli but with a gap of at least two years between each film. Bala saw her work in the Tamil movie Nadodigal and resolved to have her for his film. Both Prabha and Ambika got plenty of screen space and provided wholesome entertainment not every character artiste especially a woman could get in movies these days. Prabha has been living in Chennai for the past 35 years, has a flat here in Hyderabad and comes only when there is a film shoot. Otherwise it's her movies in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and her family that takes up her time.
She says in her heyday she lost out on some good movies because of the lack of dates. "I was supposed to do Sumalatha's role in Khaidi. If I had taken it up I would have got atleast ten more films and lost out on films with Kamal and Rajinikanth too."
She had done 18 films with Chandra Mohan and around 16 with Murali Mohan and became a big time actress at one point of time. She had an interesting repertoire..folk, social, mythological, comedy. "People connect with me easily when you talk of Chitram Bhalare Vichitram song in Daana Veera Sura Karna", she avers.
One cannot always work with top stars like ANR, NTR, all the heroines would get is four dances and four dialogues so simultaneously she worked with small time heroes like Narsimha Raju to keep her career afloat. As soon as heroines enter wedlock, offers recede and that was the time the actress from Tenali took up Kuchupudi.
"Dance is my passion, I learnt it as a child but only took it up full time in 88 when I found the right guru. My arangetram and marriage both happened in the same year. My most memorable time was in USA. I gave 40 performances and travelled from one end to the other with a live orchestra. I have no complaints with life, I have only two friends Jaya Prada and Jayasudha who are my contemporaries."