Actress Samantha Akkineni made her debut with the 2010 Telugu film Ye Maya Chesave, winning a Filmfare award for her performance. Since then, she’s only gathered momentum, securing roles in successful movies such as Kaththi (2014) and Mersal (2017). Akkineni has five releases this year, the first of which, Rangasthalam, has recorded extraordinary box office collections. Here, she tells us that her only competition is herself and how director Sukumar pushed her to give the movie a 100%.
ON WORKING WITH HER RANGASTHALAM DIRECTOR
Sukumar had just unbelievable clarity. Like I feel like this is his core, this is his real core. I said, “Why haven’t you done films like this before in the past? What made you take so long to come to this. This is who you are.” Every single detail, there was heart and soul in it and there was a glint in his eyes when he explained everything. Here’s a man who is so deeply in love with our villages and their way of living and has so much respect for them that you just want to give it your 100%. That’s why, I think, just pleasing my director was pivotal, was the most important for me at that point of time and that’s why I gave it my everything.
ON HER IDEA OF A STRONG WOMAN
The way he has written this character, she’s such a strong girl. Our idea of a girl being independent is that she has a business, drives in a Mercedes Benz. But here is a girl who fends for her family, who works in the fields every day, who looks after her family. People who talk about villages only talk about them getting married early and like, the girls there have no life. That’s not true. The amount of strength that they possess and what they do every day from morning to night – there’s no girl in the city who can come close to that kind of strength and perseverance. It’s lovely that he has written such a character who is very strong and independent, yet from the village and who is still so innocent. It was so liberating to play somebody who is not trying to be perfect.
ON GETTING OVER HER INSECURITIES
I’m so happy to say I’m not the girl from 2016, it’s about time. It’s a journey for everyone so it’s harder for some and less harder for some. Cinema, my work, was my world. I couldn’t see beyond it. It engulfed me. The insecurities were obviously a lot. I had a lot of negative feelings about myself. Once you see that it’s just a job at the end of the day – there are people around you who tell you otherwise, but it’s still just a job – and that life has so much more, there’s family and friends. At the end of the day when you think of a really good moment, do you really think of a good day at work or do you think of a day when you laughed out loud with your friends? It took me a while to understand that this is just a job and it’s going to be okay.
ON FAN COMMENTS THAT IRK HER
I am competing with myself. In the last few years, maybe the last two years, I have been trying to better myself. I’ve only been striving to better me. Maybe before that, I was like, “How do I compete?”. But over the last two years, ever since I have become settled and comfortable in my own skin, it’s been more about how to better my last performance, how to make people stop saying, “Ohhh the Samantha in Ye Maya Chesave.” I want to punch anybody who says, “But that is your best performance.” I didn’t even know what I was doing then. I could barely say the Telugu dialogues. Gautham Menon wrote three pages and I didn’t know a word of Telugu and you’re telling me that’s my best performance? I will punch you in the face, walk away. That has been difficult on its own, the fact that people keep saying that my best performance was my first film. So imagine the stress and pressure I have of competing with myself.