May 9, 2008. It was the semi-finals of reality show Ungalil Yaar Adutha Prabhudeva. Birthday girl and Class XI student Sai Pallavi walked onto the sets with a big smile. Almost a decade later, she was being driven to shoot a song for her latest release Maari 2. "Who would imagine that a decade after the show, I would actually get to dance to a number choreographed by Prabhu Deva Sir himself?" says Pallavi.
Maari 2 also gave her the chance to work with Dhanush, whom she's admired since school. She also got to work in a song sung by Ilaiyaraaja ('Anandhi' is her favourite along with Premam's 'Malare') that too composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja.
Today, Pallavi is known for her utterly natural screen presence, no-makeup look and casual style. Credit for that, she says, goes to Premam director Alphonse Puthren. "When I was studying medicine in Georgia, I only saw people with flawless skin and great hair around me. I never thought people would accept me and my biggest fear was that Alphonse would be ridiculed for his choice. But, like they say, some things in life help you evolve. For me, it was Premam.
For someone as soft spoken as Pallavi, the character of Araathu Anandhi was a game changer. Though she played Bhanu, the 'hybrid pilla' who loves to speak in Sekhar Kammula's Fidaa, she was not sure if she could pull off Anandhi. "She's unlike anything we've seen on screen before. She was all about love and madness. How will someone who's loud behave when in love or when she gets emotional? Will she make exaggerated faces? These were my questions."
As with every film, with Maari 2 and Padi Padi Leche Manasu, her Telugu film which released on the same day, Pallavi learnt something new — to drive an auto and ride a tram respectively. Among the successes sits Karu which had the audience divided on whether to love or dislike the film. "That taught me how to choose. That said, I do believe, good or bad, what has to happen will happen."
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