Sharada goes down the memory lane!
As a kid, I watched Sharada's films most of which were sentimental and then suddenly, she was into ferocious characters. Then she became an M.P, an industrialist, and suddenly she was not in the news for many years. Then, she started her third innings in Telugu Cinema with Sankraanti (2005) but she has reduced her apperances there after. Here are the excerpts from the exclusive interview to TeluguCinema.Com.
Sri: You started as a child artiste... was it with Bhakta Potana or KanyaaSulkam? You are in the industry for so many years since then! What struggle did you undergo and what made you a strong person?
Sharada: It's Kanyaasulkam. I did a small role in the film. From Kanyaasulkam (1955) to Iddaru Mitrulu (1961), I did some plays in Madras and also some roles in other language films. There was not much struggle, but yes, there was a gap in the films. From 1961 to 1965, I did comedy roles in films like Aatma Bandhuvu (1962), Tobuttuvulu (1963), and Murali Krishna (1964) there were more. Then, we shifted to Kerala and I started getting good roles in Malayalam movies. When Swayamvaram was a hit in Malayalam and I got the National Award for my role, Gemini people wanted to remake it in Telugu and approached me. I did the same role in four different languages (laughs). The Telugu and Hindi versions were also huge hits.
Sri: That film 'Manushulu Maaraali' made you a weeping girl for so many years...
Sharada: Yeah, and then, I got next two Urvashi awards one again in Malayalam for Tulaabhaaram and one in Telugu for Nimajjanam. After these films in Telugu, I got more of serious roles than the other leading ladies of the times.
Sri: You're more into serious cinema at that time than the regular hero-/heroine-oriented films.
Sharada: As you know, our people brand an artiste. Before Urvashi happened, I was a comedy artist, and then I was a serious artist... they did not want to take any risk because there's a lot of money involved.
Sri: With Chandasaasanudu, you started your second innings in Telugu films, though you did some films now and then. Why did this gap happen?
Sharada: The gap occurred because I was doing films in other languages. Also, I did not get good offers in Telugu at that time.
Sri: How was your second innings? And how did they help you?
Sharada: My second innings in Telugu films were good. To tell you frankly, I was happier in my second innings than in my first innings, because I had scope for a lot more variety in second innings. I thoroughly enjoyed my films like Pratidhwani, Chandasaasanudu,Anasuyamma Gaari Alludu, Jagannaatakam etc. They had variety in them, like I said. I was not really happy in doing all those weeping roles in Telugu before, because I acted in so many good roles in Malayalam. When I was 22, I had done the role of a mother for four children in Malayalam. And, in Telugu, I did mostly similar characters always.
Sri: But, in Telugu too, you did good films like Kaalam Maarindi, Sharada, Swathi, Nyaayam Kaavaali, etc.
Sharada: Sharada, Kaalam Maarindi are in my first innings. Though they were very good films and I liked them a lot, they do have sentiment that's liked by the women fans. Swathi, Nyaayam Kaavaali type roles are good for the society, as it needs to be changed people should change; we need to fight for the justice. Of course, I got national award for Nimajjanam, which is also in Telugu. We get such films very rarely. These were done in my second innings.
Sri: Why is there a gap of seven to eight years in your third innings? What were you doing during this time?
Sharada: I was in politics, which was a mistake. I wanted to do a lot of things for people but they didn't allow me to do it there. It was very frustrating with the politicians. Now, I am back into the films. I felt like a newcomer in the first few days, but after that it became fine (laughs).
Sri: Being in films for so long ...45 years!... and having done so many good roles, what made you jump into business? Why did you start Lotus Chocolates?
Sharada: Lotus Chocolates was started initially to provide work for urban ladies. It was a success initially; I was never into its day-to-day business. I was only the founder. The factory also went to public issue. It was in losses and was sold to someone else, who sold to another party, and it is running good now... may be it will make some profits this year.
Sri: What happened in politics? Why did you lose the elections in the second term?
Sharada: That's because people in the party were against me in the second term! When I was elected as M.P. the first time, I wanted to do a lot of things, but other politicians always wanted something out of that. They just do it like any other business, which is not my intention! I want to do something for the society. I did all the work I could do in that short time I got the railway sanction in our area, and roads and schools in my constituency during that short time. But I was frustrated with the politicians. I spend most of my money as I took the challenges personally and completed them.
Sri: Apart from acting in good roles, what are you planning to do now for the society?
Sharada: I have a lot of plans. Firstly, I wanted to start a school for blind orphans. Secondly, I want to start an old age home for parents of NRIs. That will be a good one not only with all the facilities but also in every way. It will not be for free, of course, and with that money I want to run this school for the blind. Another dream of mine is to start a Vedic school.
Sri: What about films? Before you stepped into politics, you financed and produced some films? Do you have any plans to produce now?
Sharada: I am planning to produce a film in Malayalam now...
Sri: I think you produced some films in Telugu also.
Sharada: Yeah, I financed some films and also made one or two films in Tamil too.
Sri: Tamil? Which film?
Sri: Working in so many languages and with so many people and some times you act as mother to stars who are older than you are what makes you do that? You acted as the mother of Dharmendra also in a Hindi film who is a lot older than you are, not to mention NTR's dual role films like Sardaar Paapaaraayudu and Chandasaasanudu.
Sharada: (laughs) It's a part of the job. Sometimes even I feel embarrassed to put white paint on the hair. The Dharmendra film you are referring to is a remake of Pulibidda in Telugu. As I did the Telugu version, they asked me to do in the Hindi version.
Sri: You worked in Manushulu Maaraali Hindi version also, and that was your first film in Hindi, right?
Sharada: Samaaj Ko Badal Daalo was a big hit in Hindi also. Later, I did Mehendi Rang Laayegi, the Hindi version of Gorintaaku. And the film your are saying I don't remember the Hindi name. Yeah, in between, I did some Hindi films but I don't remember much and did not concentrate much in Hindi films at all (laughs).
Sri: You got three Urvashi awards, and a lot of state awards and other awards. You saw a lot of life in films. But how come you made mistakes like others in your marriage?
Sharada: (Pause) When I was first married I was only 22. Until then, I do not know anything. My father was very strict and protective towards me. So, I do not know much of the outside world. I fell in love with Chalam who was already married with three kids and was a widower at that time. People did warn me against him, but love was so blind that I married him. He showed his true colors after the third day of our marriage.
Sri: What I heard was that he even used to come to sets with hangover and that he also manhandled you in the sets of Premalu-Pellillu?
Sharada: He never manhandled me on the sets, but a couple of times he raised his hand at home. And we are divorced after three years. Anyway, that person is now dead.
Sri: Another rumor was that the marriage was a contract marriage...
Sharada: No, it was not a contract marriage. After I was divorced, I became very busy with the films later. After 1975, I married a Malayali who's well-educated and comes from a very well-off family. I was happy for some time. But, later I realized that he was also after my money and nothing else. So, we parted after some time. It is he who made me invest in the factory. Now, you know, I do not have any kids and I brought up the niece and nephew as my children. They are settled well now and I am happy with that.
- Interviewd by Sri Atluri