Children are so caught up in their own ambitions that they fail to realise that their parents too once had big dreams.
In that sense, Malayalam's rustic beauty Anu Sitara is blessed. She might not have purposefully done anything to make things happen but she clearly was instrumental in her retired father Abdul Salam realising a big dream of his. Salam, an amateur theatre actor who had 70 mm dreams, finally donned the grease paint and stood before the camera. The star father made his acting debut with a cameo in the Dileep-starrer 'Shubharathri'.
'Subharathri', therefore, is doubly special for Anu Sitara. One, it is her much anticipated first movie opposite Dileep. And two, her father gets a new career after his retirement. The classical beauty opens up about her journey to Onmanorama.
Friend's surprise, and Dileep's call
I landed in 'Shubharathri' quite unexpectedly. It was Seetha, a friend of mine, who said she has a surprise for me. I thought it would be something small. She visited my dance class and waited all the time outside while I was practicing. When I finally finished my practice, she told me that I have been cast as heroine in Vyasan KP's next flick. I asked her who Vyasan KP was. To my pleasant surprise, she said Vyasan KP was actor Dileep's childhood friend and he was all set to direct a movie with Dileep in the lead. I couldn't believe that a big dream of mine was coming true. I was super-excited to act opposite Dileep in a movie. Even my neighbors and friends kept asking me, “Anu, why don't you act opposite Dileep in a movie?”
Later, Dileep gave me a phone call to confirm the news. “Anu, we have to make our movie a grand success,” he told me. I was speaking to him for the first time and yet it felt as through we were familiar with each other for several years. The warmth I felt in his words calmed me. I was already nervous thinking I am going to act opposite a superstar.
Once again, a housewife
I play the role of Krishnan's wife in this movie. The name of my character is Sreeja. Krishnan is played by Dileep. Sreeja is an ordinary housewife who has limited her world to her husband and children. We see women like Sreeja almost everyday in our life.
One question that I face almost everyday in my career is why I don't choose experimental characters that demand a makeover. See, each of my characters are different from one another. Malini of 'Ramante Eden Thottam' is entirely different from Anitha of 'Captain.' Now, Sreeja has a personality of her own. All of them might be flaunting sarees, all of them might have long hair but their personalities are different. I believe in behavioral makeovers. Physical makeovers are rather an easy way of transforming yourself. On the other hand, acting makeover needs a level of hard work, passion and flair. Even if you take a group of people hailing from a same village, they might be wearing similar costumes but their characters and way of conduct are indeed different. It is not mandatory to change your appearance to transform into a new character.
My next release after 'Shubharathri' is 'Mamankam,' a historical drama. My character in that movie is entirely different from Sreeja. I flaunt archaic costumes and speak written-language in 'Mamankam.'
Dancing her way to silver screen
It was my father Abdul Salam who sowed in me the passion for cinema. He himself is a great movie-buff. He used to watch every movie. He was also an actor in local theater groups. I used to accompany him to the theaters and drama sets and get inspired from their acting techniques. As I grew up, I aspired to become a dancer. I learned classical dance from a very young age. I pursued higher studies at Kerala Kalamandalam. My mother Renuka also supported me whole-heartedly. She accompanied me to Kalolsavam venues and patiently waited and cheered as I performed. I have a younger sister called Anu Sonara.
My father had never asked me to become an actor despite praising the actors in front of me. I have always been asked to become a civil servant or a teacher. It was after my plus-two that my mommy's friend Renjini auntie forwarded my photograph to a movie-crew. They called me for auditions. I wasn't asked to perform anything – they just asked me to stand in front of the camera. I was staring curiously at my own image in the view-finder when the director announced that I was selected. Thus I debuted in Mollywood through 'Pottas Bomb' in 2013.
It is quite natural that parents support their children in achieving their dreams but how many in-laws offer that level of support to a woman? I am fortunate in that aspect. My husband Vishnu is the pillar of strength behind me. His parents Prasannan and Komalam also encourage me to chase success in my career.
Father surprises daughter
I already said that my father is a movie-buff. I and my sister fondly call him Maanu. Though I have been into movies for six years now, my family hadn't visited a shooting location. It was on the sets of 'Shubharathri' that my father, mother, sister and my grandmother made a brief visit to meet the actors and watch the shooting process. I introduced them to director Vyasan KP and actor Dileep. I saw them all having a long conversation from a distance.
A couple of days later, Maanu called me to ask when his scenes are being shot. I went silent, confused. After a pause he told me that he had requested Vyasan KP for a role in this movie to which he agreed! I was surprised like never before.
Though Maanu had asked me several times to put a request for him with filmmakers, I have been shy. I felt I would be troubling my directors by asking so. But now, I am a proud daughter who facilitated her father to achieve his long-time dream. 'Shubharathri' movie is special to me as it marks my father's film debut also.