'I'm still remembered as the girl from Roja'
As the heroine of Mani Ratnam's blockbuster Roja, Madhoobala stole everyone's hearts from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, with her refreshing portrayal of a naive southern girl who will move mountains for her husband.
A few projects later she left it all in favour of matrimonial bliss.
But it looks like the acting bug has not left her completely as she returns to her craft with the Tamil serial, Soundaravalli on Jaya TV.
Already her spirited portrayal on the show has won her many fans.
Read on as she takes us on a trip down memory lane and shares details about her latest projects. Excerpts:
What is your role in Soundaravalli?
I play Soundaravalli, a character from the devadasi community. The antagonist is played by Sudha Chandran. She has a lot of prejudices and tries to oppose Soundaravalli at every turn, but my character is a woman who has been strengthened by personal experiences, and is willing to fight her every step of the way.
Sudha Chandran is also a part of the regular cast. Her role is quite strong too, and I work hard to break her pre-conceived opinions.
'My family is my first commitment'
Your costume and ornaments make it look like the serial is set in the past. Is this really the case?
Not really. It's an entirely contemporary work. We shot it in Pollachi, actually. The costume appears so because of my role, no doubt.
What made you accept a project in Tamil television?
My family is my first commitment. I'm based in Mumbai, so I have to shuttle back and forth for shooting. Nevertheless, I accepted, because the character is so strong that it enticed me.
Director Prabhu Nepal was also very insistent that I do this role. We're looking at a detailed characterization of the role too and that was another point in its favour.
How different is it, shooting for movies and TV?
Very! Movies are shot faster while for TV, everything is more elaborate, although the shooting process itself didn't seem very different to me. Essentially, you are still in front of the camera, acting.
'I'd like to work in Tamil movies too'
It's been quite a while since you did a project here. What was the experience of shooting like?
When it was time for the first shot, my tongue literally wouldn't work! [Laughs] I had to work quite a bit to get back into the flow of Thamizh. But once I got back into the mode, it got easy. After a couple of takes, I got into groove.
Roja might have happened years ago, but people still identify you with that character, don't they?
That's quite true. At one point, I did a lot of different roles, wondering if that would change perceptions. But I'm still known best by Mani sir's work. I'm very grateful that I could work with him on a project that is still remembered. It was an unforgettable role. It's a blessing for me that people still remember it, and connect me to it.
What are your current projects? Are you working on more serials?
This is the only one, at present. I do have a couple of Hindi films in my kitty -- one is Hema Amma's (Malini) film, and the other is a Rajashri project. I'd like to work in Tamil movies too, if I get the right script. I'm certainly open to it.
Catch Soundaravalli at 8.30 on weekdays, on Jaya TV.
Image: A scene from Soundaravalli