My parents told me it’s a shady industry: Melanie Kannakoda

After doing the international film, “Love Lies and Seeta”, how did you manage to bag a lead in a Telugu film? I was in Hyderabad for the promotions of my debut when the makers of “My Two Cents” approached me with an offer to play the lead in it. They told me they were impressed with my performance in my debut and wanted me to be a part of their new project. I read the script and was instantly excited. I am not sure how much I can divulge now, but I can tell you that it’s a crime comedy.
A lot of Telugu directors are looking at roping in girls from outside India for their films… I was told a local girl was supposed to be doing this film, but since the character is that of an NRI, they thought I fit the bill better. I will be seen speaking in English and the Telugu portions will be dubbed because I can’t speak the language. But to answer your question, I think it is perhaps because new faces add freshness and colour to a film. It could be a strategy to create buzz and generate curiosity.
Many actresses of Indian origin like you, who lived outside the country, are coming back to India to make a mark here. What’s driving this trend? I think it’s all about opportunities. The Indian film industry offers a lot to newcomers and people are obviously looking at seizing them. Moreover, the competition is fierce outside, and it is extremely difficult to become an established name. Besides, I did know about the Tollywood industry… You see, it’s famous!
Your debut Telugu film stars Varun Sandesh and Sudeep Kishan… have you gotten a chance to know them? Not really. I just met them when we had a cast and crew meeting recently. I am sure they are all fantastic people. You see, all this is very new to me. This is a different industry altogether. I am just taking my first steps.
Do you feel out of place here? To be honest, yes. I never thought I would be an actress, working in a Telugu film. However, everyone made me feel comfortable here. It helped that the cinematographer of “Love Lies and Seeta” is working in this film too. The others are also fantastic. I might not know Telugu, but I felt at home with everyone talking to me in English.
How did you start acting, if that wasn’t your plan? While I always dreamt of becoming an actress, I wasn’t sure if I could ever become one because I come from a very conservative background. I have Indian origins and my parents have brought me up in a certain way. But eventually, I gave up my corporate job to pursue my dreams. This decision was tough on my parents. They were worried about how I will survive in the film industry. They told me — ‘The industry is shady and we don’t want our girl to be a part of it.’ I did understand their concerns, but gradually, they stood by my side and have been very supportive. Now, they feel extremely proud when they see my pictures in magazines or watch me on the big screen.
Do you have eyes set on Bollywood too? I haven’t really planned anything. I am not dying to work in Bollywood or for that matter, even Tollywood. That’s because I am not looking at movies just for money. I am only looking at good work. I have a few Hollywood projects too. So, a Bollywood film has to be really good to take me away from my Hollywood career.
A lot of actors take the South film route to Bollywood, were you advised the same too? Well, yes. Many people told me that actors here do this. They act in South films, get noticed and make their way to Bollywood. This sounds interesting, but I am going to wait and see how things turn out.
Are you aware that in T-town, it’s all about the heroes? Yes, I heard this too. I am told actresses don’t really get to do much and heroes take away all the limelight. But “My Two Cents” is going to be different. I have a crucial role to play in the film. And well, if after this, I do end up getting roles that have nothing much in the plot, I would obviously watch my steps. Like I said, I am only desperate for good work and nothing else.