Monica has come a long way from her Azhagi days. After captivating the audience’s imagination with her role as the teenage Nanditha Das in the film, the young actress has moved ahead in her career and is doing many films in all the south Indian languages.
What are your current projects?
Monika: I am doing a film in Kannada under Sivan’s direction and the hero is Rahul. It is a college subject revolving around three girls and I am one of them but the main lead. Talks are on for a Telugu film with a leading director. In Malayalam, I am doing a film with Sooraj which will go on floors in May 2009. In Tamil, discussions are going on for a film called Murugadoss but nothing is finalized.
You started as child star and graduated to heroine. How do you feel about this?
It was an enjoyable time for me as a child star. When compared to going to school daily, listening to teachers and studying, I liked acting in films as it involved visiting different places, watching films and television. Since I had done films in many languages (as a child star), I traveled to different states in the country and was happy. When it comes to acting, as a child artist, one does not have much scope to perform or emote. But now as a heroine it is not like that. There is a lot of competition now and one will have to work doubly hard to get noticed and achieve success.
Despite being in the industry from an early age, why is it that you are not able to shine well?
I started as teenage Nanditha Das in Azhagi and went on to get offers with twin heroine subjects. Now I am choosing scripts with single heroine subject. I have no complaints as I am moving slowly but steadily ahead. When I see some of the heroines who have started with me are nowhere to be seen these days, I feel better that I have chosen this path. I can select diverse roles and have a longer shelf life in the industry.
How was it working as Vadivelu’s heroine?
It was an entirely different experience doing Imsai Arasan. It was not the usual commercial film but a historical set up and the background was naturally historical from the sets to the costumes to the actors. It gave a feeling of being in a different world. Working with Vadivelu was awesome. He was always joking in the sets. Dialogue delivery in Imsai Arasan was different from the contemporary films. In the current day films, one can always make up if lines are forgotten. But it is not the same when you speak chaste Tamil. When I used to miss out a few words or forget my lines, Vadivelu was very helpful. I enjoyed working with him.
Which is your favorite role till date?
Dhanalakshmi from Azhagi, which of course was liked by everyone! I would like to do more of such roles.
About appearing glamorous in Silandhi?
When we try out something new, it is only natural that we get positive and negative responses. Similarly, my glamorous image in Silandhi received positive and negative feedbacks. While some people appreciated it, many of them felt I should not change my ‘girl next door’ image. In fact Silandhi was an eye opener in the sense that it gave me an opportunity to understand the pulse of the audience.
Have you ever thought why you did not appear glamorous in your earlier films?
No, I did not feel that way. I never had any plans to do glamorous roles. In Silandi, I appeared glamorous because the script demanded it. The film says that in today’s society, it is not only the men but some women also resort to appalling means of living. In short the film discusses about the deterioration of society in toto. As I felt this was a noble message and I had to appear different from my earlier films, I agreed to do it and not because I wanted to do glamorous roles. Secondly I cannot appear sexy because my face will not support this. I have a very homely face which will suit only homely characters. In the guise of trying out something new that does not suit me, I will only be harming myself and I don’t want to do that.
Among today’s heroes, who would you like to act?
With everyone! I cannot be just acting with one hero alone. I want to do one film each with all the heroes. That’s my wish.
Which is your dream role?
I want to try out different characters. I would like to do the role of a bubbly girl. Then I want to do a character with complete dark makeup like how Suhasini has done. Then a film like Azhagi, the character of which is unforgettable even today.
Have you got any kind of guidance from senior heroines?
I have worked with Ramya Krishnan in Maa Alludu directed by EVV Sathyanarayana. She was very helpful. She is more like a friend to me and would offer guidance on make-up, acting, camera angles etc. She never had any attitude or airs. She gave me many tips on how to improve as an actress.
About A Aa E Ee
If I have to speak about A Aa E Ee, I first will have to speak about Prabhu sir. I worked with him for 15 days. Initially I was apprehensive about him as he is such a senior artist, but he put every one of us at ease and treated everyone alike. He was very friendly, would discuss many things and was very informative too. It was such a good experience for me to have worked with such an experienced and talented actor.
Can you compare working in Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil films?
Each industry has its own trend and pattern. In Tamil, sometimes different variety of films will be a hit while some other time, they will flop. In Kerala comedy films will always be a hit and sentiment films comes next. Malayalam films are generally somber where expressions are more important. Telugu films are colorful and flamboyant. If I have to do a Telugu film, there will definitely be four dance numbers and I should be adept in dancing. Kollywood is a mixed bag. Though these things are different in each industry, working style is the same. According to me, if one is fluent in Tamil, then it is easier for them to pick up other languages. Though my mother tongue is Malayalam, I am more fluent in Tamil as I am a resident of Chennai. Kannada is a bit different as it is a mix of Hindi, Sanskrit etc. But acting style rests solely on the director and his expectations.
Have you gone overseas for cultural events?
No, I have not gone till date though I have been invited to. Personally overseas cultural events are very exciting as the audience there gets to have a glimpse of their favorite stars. In India, such opportunities are aplenty but such things are a rarity outside India. As film stars, our main job is to entertain people which will be realized in such cultural events.
When you are out, if your fans talk to you, will you respond?
Yes. When I go out and if someone talks to me I respond. But if the situation shows signs of going out of control, I leave the place. I sometimes take my scooty pep. But I cover myself with cap, huge goggles, scarf etc.
Do you carry out your daily chores or do you seek help?
Generally I don’t depend on others for any of my work. As long as my dad was there, he used to take care of everything and I was a free bird. After him, I have started taking care of my family. I have learnt to do things on my own which helps me take control of the situation. I prefer that and I like myself that way.
About acting in Television serials?
I have always been doing films from my childhood. After a break, I re-entered films through Azhagi after which films from Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam happened. So I never got an opportunity to act in television serials. Perhaps, I will try TV serials after I have acted in enough films or after I become old. As long as I get opportunities in films, I will not step into television.
Who is your favorite actor?
I like all the actors. Everyone has a different talent. But my favorite is Kamal sir.
Who are your favorite actresses among today’s artists?
Everyone, but on a special note, I like Nadiya and Jyothika.
Which is the film that you liked recently?
Yaavarum Nalam. I liked it very much. I saw it in Inox. Till date, I have not seen or heard audience clapping during the interval break but they did it for Yaavarum Nalam at Inox. This film has really captivated the attention of everyone. It is a completely different concept and content.
What are your hobbies?
Listening to music, internet chatting, long drives, swimming etc. I don’t exercise, instead I swim. I read books and then watch movies on DVD or download from net and watch them.
About your pranks?
I have done that a lot. To recall one incident in school, I can say this. I had a friend called Anusha but we were always at loggerheads with each other. Once I was sharpening my pencil with a blade and Anusha was asking me something. I am not able to recollect the details now. She asked me something which I did not have but she insisted that I had. On an inadvertent note, I raised the blade to say NO but unfortunately, the blade had scratched her cheek. She immediately raised such a big hue and cry and the entire school came to know of this. From then on, I was associated with blade.
Likewise, during rainy seasons, I used to purposely jump on to puddles and splash the dirty water on to the teachers walking in front and when they turn back, have an innocent look and apologize. Such incidents are plenty.