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I'm a pan-Indian actress with pan-Indian taste: Chef actress Padmapriya

The actress is proud to have worked in films in different languages like Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Hindi.


Actress Padmapriya Janakiraman considers herself a "pan-Indian actress" as she has worked in Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Hindi films.

Padmapriya, who made her Hindi film debut with Striker in 2010, returned to Hindi cinema after seven years with Raja Krishna Menon's Chef, which was released last week.

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She doesn't call it a comeback, but says she wishes to be more regular in the industry now.

"I have not tried enough to be in Bollywood [as the Hindi film industry is often known]," Padmapriya told the IANS news agency. "[Actor] Siddharth knew me, so that's how my first film [Striker] happened. I don't think I ever went around looking for work here. I was busy working in films from other sides. I came into the industry by chance.

"But I hope to do more Hindi films now. I have always been a pan-Indian actress with pan-Indian taste. I want to leave a deep impact of my acting in people's mind. I want to be the Guru Dutt of the world," she proclaimed.

Padmapriya, who has carved a niche for herself in the Southern film industry, said acting happened to her by chance.

"With me, cinema happened by accident," she said. "It was not a choice I made. By accident, my first film [Seenu Vasanthi Lakshmi (2004)] became a big hit. Then I was forced to do my second film. I was in an alternate career. I said I don't want to do films, I don't believe in cinema."

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"Thereafter, the third and fourth films happened. As I was being offered such amazing scripts, I couldn't say no. Then I had to leave my job and started acting full-time. Having said that, I feel it's a great time for actors. I do see lots of good films being made in Hindi."

So, how did she get her first break?

"I used to do modelling part-time," Padmapriya said. "That's how I was offered my first film. I took a two-year break from films to pursue my post-graduation in public administration. Today too, I work in the development sector. I won't call myself an accidental actor. I started dancing when I was 3. I started doing theatre when I was 14. I did it just for fun as I love being on stage. Later, films happened by accident."

The actress feels she is suitable for all types of roles thanks to her army background.

Saif Ali Khan and Padmapriya in Chef

"I don't have any particular identity that I hold on to," she said. "My father is an army officer. So I have had the chance to travel to a lot of places. I am a South Indian. But when I go to a place, I just blend with their culture. That's why I look like a Punjabi, Marathi, or I can play a Bengali character. It is easy for me to adapt."

Padmapriya said she enjoyed working with actor Saif Ali Khan and director Raja Krishna Menon in Chef, which is an Indian remake of a 2014 Hollywood film of the same name by Jon Favreau.

"They both are very sorted," she said, referring to her co-star and director. "I love the way Raja visualizes his female characters. That's something I have not witnessed down South.

"I have seen Saif evolve as an actor since the time I was in the audience. I was literally a kid. When I signed up for this project, I didn't know for a long time that Saif was going to star in it. It was a double bonanza to work with people whom I really like," she said.