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Spotlight > Sneha Prassana
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Laws of Attraction

Love manifests itself in different ways. There’s the high school kind where everything is endearingly sweet and impulsive. Then there’s the popular one, love at first sight, though the big debate of whether it is even a possibility is still alive. The third kind is one that is characterised by sheer lust, sparks flying instantly, ephemeral but real nevertheless. The final one, however, is our favourite kind - friends becoming life partners. It is everyone’s ideal romantic circumstance, one that is predictable yet straightforward. The personalities in focus here are two such people. Their story is one that has a fairytale finale, of months of discovering, squabbles spurred and sorted, empathy and more, all cemented together with love that is unconditional. It’s not like they had to carriage their affection in front of the camera, they were who they were – hopelessly in love with each other. Actors Sneha and Prasanna in conversation with Bina Sujit and Vijetha Rangabashyam about that four lettered word and how it brought them toge
A small-town boy with a big-screen dream
Born and brought up in Trichy, acing in academics was definitely not one of Prasanna’s strongest suits but he was sure of one thing, he always wanted to become an actor. “I played the lead role in a play during my 6th grade and for the first time I heard the audience applauding for me. It gave me a thrill and a burning desire to become an actor was born,” he says. Prasanna wanted to pursue a basic degree after school, something that would just about get him into the Film Institute. However, much like any Tam Brahm household, he was subject to the pressure of studying engineering. Days went by without traces of acting or films, until an announcement was made on Star Vijay that Madras Talkies was producing a film for which they were looking for five fresh faces and that interested parties should send their pictures across. “I was still in my second year at college, but I decided to make use of this opportunity. I sent my portfolio and…” “I would love to see those photographs,” interrupts Sneha. Bursting into a fit of laughter Prasanna says, “I really don’t have any with me. I had no money for getting professional shots done and I obviously couldn’t ask my parents. I had a few shots taken by a photographer known to a close friend on another friend’s terrace. We picked the best pictures and sent them. I received a call after a month from Star Vijay saying that I had to come to Chennai for the first round of audition. I still didn’t believe it, you know? I thought one of my friends was playing a prank on me until I got an official letter from them.”

Now, the bigger problem ahead was to convince his parents. “I took the letter and a few friends for moral support. Both my parents were extremely hesitant but with my friends backing me, I somehow managed to get their permission to go for the audition.” With several rounds of selection and photo shoots, the news was finally broken to him that he was going to be playing one of the lead roles in the film 5 Star. “Director Susi Ganesan called me in to tell me that I was chosen and that this was a fantastic platform for me to prove my acting skills. I remember walking out of Maniratnam Sir’s office in shock interspersed with excitement.

“After the release of 5 Star I got a couple of movie offers but I refused them as I had promised my parents that I would complete my degree. But as fate would have it, the new Principal at college did not appreciate that I had missed classes for the shoot and hence prevented me from appearing for my exams.” Prasanna couldn’t continue his engineering and returned to Chennai looking for acting opportunities. “My first film happened like a dream, but when I came back I realized what it was to be a newcomer looking for a break. It took a while for films like Azhagiya Theeye and Kanda Naal Mudhal to come by. I would say the former was a path breaking movie in terms of my career.”

A doe-eyed girl next door
Born in Bombay and brought up in Dubai, Sneha’s exposure to films was nil. “My father was totally against films. At home, Discovery, NGC and other such informative channels were the only ones we were allowed to watch.” However, the acting opportunity knocked at her door at a star night, when director Fazil spotted Sneha and asked her if she would like to act.

“We really thought that he was not all that serious but he kept calling back to ask if I was interested to do a Malayalam film which required the female lead to be a classical dancer and I was a trained classical dancer. After much convincing and with the help of my mother and sister, my dad agreed to me acting.” Another striking coincidence that both Sneha and Prasanna share is the fact that both their debuts in Tamil were directed by Susi Ganesan. “I’ve never been excited about anything in life. Even when I did my first shot, I was completely nonchalant. I would do what the director asked me to do and it didn’t even hit me when I won the State Award,” the actress confesses.

She perhaps didn’t dream of a career in acting but she certainly wanted to become someone everyone would look up to or so emphasises Prasanna. “That is true. I wanted to be popular. I thought I’d become a model but not once did I dream of becoming a film star. I was all of 16 when I did my first movie,” Sneha says. But popularity was not something new to this charming actress. “I was really popular in school. On hearing the name Suhasini Rajaram Naidu (my real name), a few heads would turn.”

Opposites didn’t attract
When it comes to personalities, both of them claim that they are poles apart. While she is brimming with energy, constantly making conversations with the makeup artist, stylist or anyone in the vicinity, Prasanna is calm and composed and doesn’t talk unless he is asked to be heard. Says Prasanna, “Having studied in a coeducation school all my life, talking to women was never an issue with me. But I remember when 5 Star released people floated a rumour about me and Kaniha that we were eloping to get married. I then decided that even casually talking to women in the industry leads to unnecessary gossip so I decided I should keep to myself.” The actor didn’t quite give any of his co stars a friendly vibe, so much so that some of them thought that he was unbelievably arrogant as a person.

Sneha chips in saying, “I am the exact opposite. I love to chat around with people and it hardly takes me time to get used to a particular crew. I believe in having fun while working and you can’t do that unless you get to know them, right?” The encounter point for both of them happened as Sneha had a favour to ask of our male protagonist. “My sister, Sangeetha is a huge Ilayaraja fan and I wanted to gift a collection of the maestro’s compositions to her. My PRO who also happened to be Prasanna’s manager mentioned to me that he (Prasanna) had an exhaustive collection of Ilayaraja songs and so I asked him to get him on the phone for me. The person that I am, I was being extremely friendly and courteous, even though I hadn’t met Prasanna before. But he was so curt on the phone. The minute I sensed his tone, I changed mine too and our conversation was far from cordial.” Prasanna was not entirely pleased with the idea of lending his collection to her and confesses that he had given a piece of his mind to his manager for having connected her on the phone. But there is a reason why he didn’t quite get along well with Sneha in the beginning. “When Azhagiya Theeye was about to release, I got a call from a producer. I read the script and I actually liked it. I signed the film and even got paid the advance. Days went by and I never heard back from them and later I came to know that they had started filming the movie with someone else. Further I was given the impression that Sneha, who was playing the female lead in the movie, had requested the director to go for another actor. So naturally I was quite miffed with her.” To this Sneha adds, “It’s not like I did it with a vindictive agenda. The film really had a powerful place for a female lead and I genuinely thought that a new face would be better for the male lead. Also the producers had other reasons for the change.” However, both of them admit that it had worked in his favour considering the film bombed at the box office. The couple that much later was going to fall in love couldn’t stand the sight of each other according to its own admission.

Befriending a Nemesis
A time finally arrived when both the actors had to sign a film together. “There were a couple of other scripts that came to me along with Achamundu Achamundu. I picked this one because I felt that the script was very powerful.” Prasanna also admits that he was getting out of a really bad relationship and since the entire film was going to be shot in the USA, he really made use of the opportunity to escape from the troubles of his life. Sneha adds, “We were asked to come for the pre-production shoot at 4. I was there at 4 sharp with my makeup ready and there was no sign of him. I was sitting in a really small room and was feeling extremely suffocated. He walked in at 6:30 in the evening and he made no apologies for it. I was boiling with anger.” The actors shot the stills together reluctantly before they could leave to the USA. “I was excited about the movie but I still was extremely wary of the fact that I had to act with her.” Spontaneously, Sneha admits that by this time she had come to terms with the fact that she had to deal with him on a daily basis. Prasanna continues, “I left before her. I was staying with this family whose kid was supposed to play our five year old daughter in the movie. I was asked to spend a lot of time with the kid before we could start shooting. So I used to literally drop and pick her up from the bus stop and take her shopping. I grew very fond of her. But I had to move back to the house where Sneha and a few of us were to stay during our schedule and I wasn’t too comfortable with it.” On Sneha’s arrival, she was also asked to get acquainted with the kid, which Prasanna wasn’t too happy about considering he felt that he had known the kid longer and felt possessive about the little one. So the bitterness between Sneha and Prasanna seemed to increase by the day. “The girl was trained for six whole months with the dialogues. Somehow though, she just froze in front of the camera. After many attempts, the director decided to replace the kid,” Sneha says. Having spent so much time with the kid and having established a close bond with her, both the stars couldn’t believe that the kid was going to be replaced. Within two days, the crew had found another girl to play the role of their daughter. Prasanna who had become very close to the family of the original kid, was advised by the director not to meet or speak with her anymore since they thought it would affect his relationship with the replacement (and it might reflect on screen). This is when our empathetic heroine came to his rescue. “I felt it was extremely uncalled for. The family had helped him so much in settling in and he was extremely attached to the kid. I told the director that they shouldn’t be doing this.” This was the first time Prasanna saw a hint of nicety in Sneha and considered the fact that she may not be a bad sort after all. “Slowly we became friends and helped each other with our scripts. Since we barely had watched each other’s movies, we decided to do so after the shoot,” he says.

The Complete Friend Zone
Both of them returned from the USA after the shoot and continued to be friends. Their idea of fun and pastime was to watch movies together. “Initially we used to be hesitant to go out and watch films. We didn’t know how the media would perceive it and we were really just friends. The only actor my mother trusted me with back then was Prasanna.” The rumour ordeal didn’t particularly act in their favour as expected. “But I really wanted to break the stereotype of how co stars being friends would only be romantic and nothing else.”

“Our families knew what we really were. Sneha’s mother used to treat me like her own son. So we really didn’t pay heed to what the media had to say beyond a point,” he adds. Sneha claims that she is a simple girl at heart. “I am still a normal girl who likes to shop in Pondy Bazaar. So I told Prasanna that we should be normal people and not stars.” The couple reiterated that they loved each other’s company and were very much only friends. “We became friends in 2008 and continued to be so till 2010, which is when we actually realized, maybe we could be good as life partners too,” confides Sneha.

Room for Surprises
The one thing Sneha was extremely good with was to shower the actor with unbelievable birthday surprises. “I had never really celebrated my birthdays nor have I had any sort of surprises planned for me. But after she came into my life, year after year she would throw me such wonderful surprises. She would go all the way to call my closest friends from Trichy and organizing the entire party for me. In fact, I took a promise from her saying that she shouldn’t surprise me anymore because it really becomes hard for me to match up.” But what did the pretty lady get in return? “After we fell in love, he picked up a beautiful sari for me for my birthday. Of course, he took my sister along to choose it but it was really pretty. I even wore it for an award function.”

Friends to Lovers
Both of them are unable to put their hand on a particular instance that led them to believe that they were in love. “It was a very gradual thing. We didn’t even realize that we were falling in love with each other. In fact, till this moment I haven’t even properly proposed to her.” “Yes, I keep asking him when he would officially ask me to marry him by going down on his knees like in the movies.” Both of them started becoming each other’s confidants by sharing secrets and giving each other opinions and inputs on scripts. However, an incident of brewing possessiveness is one of the reasons that led Prasanna to believe that she might just be more than a friend to him. Sneha elaborates, “We went to a star show in Malaysia, and the chatterbox that I am, I was talking to everybody. Prasanna pulled me aside and said, ‘Why do you have to talk to everybody?’” Prasanna never gave Sneha a reason to get possessive though, considering she practically never saw him with girls. “In the USA, she used to be my wingman. If she ever found anyone remotely nice looking, she would prompt me to give them a look. But this was when we were friends. Now, she does get possessive over me,” Prasanna quips.

However, to this couple, possessiveness is something very personal and is never carried to the sets while working. “I am fully aware of the fact that acting is like any other profession and you have to do what your role asks of you. But I also believe in a limit to what can be shown on screen because at the end of the day, I want to watch my film with my parents. So there is no room for onscreen possessiveness,” he says. Both of them also admit that more than sharing happy moments they have shared many sad moments together. “When he was going through an all-time low in his career, I would talk him through it. At the same time when I was going through problems myself with all the controversies and gossips, he used to lend me his shoulder to cry on.” The couple just started talking about their future together one day and the exclusivity of their relationship was understood without even being communicated. “We became really dependent on each other. I could never shop without her help. On receiving a script, I would immediately call her and ask her for suggestions.” More than speaking about their feelings to each other, the couple confided their feelings to their respective friends and siblings. “They knew all along but never asked us about it till we broke the news to them,” she says. Both Sneha and Prasanna haven’t had the smoothest of rides when it comes to relationships. “Both of us took a while to come out of our previous relationships. Whatever was flawed and not right in my previous relationship was perfect in this one,” Sneha adds.

Sneha, the Reign Holder
We asked the couple, who among them would make big decisions in their relationship. An eager Prasanna admitted that Sneha was the one who made all the big calls in their few months of being together. “I think with my heart and she thinks with her mind. She is more practical a person than I am.” But this is not just with respect to Prasanna. Though she is the last born to her parents, almost every single member of her family would agree to do something if Sneha advised them to do so. “I have learnt things the hard way and I now know that it helps to use your mind now and then,” says Sneha. Prasanna is someone who has always been backed by his instincts when it comes making both big and small decisions. “If my instinct didn’t let me sign a particular film, I wouldn’t do so and it has always worked in my favour. The only person I trust beyond my instinct is Sneha.” They say behind every successful man there is a woman and not without a reason. “He was unable to decide if he should start a business. I pushed him into it and said, you can both act and do business at the same time. He now has started a packaged-water business along with his friend and touchwood, it is doing really well.” But Prasanna helps Sneha when it has to do with banking and finance. “She has very little idea about banking. I help her with all the small decisions and she helps me with all the big decisions.”

Breaking it to the Family
Coming clean about the relationship wasn’t the easiest task, not for Prasanna at least. “My folks took it really well. Their only concern was if I would be safe in the relationship because I was hurt before. Otherwise they had no issues with him or his background.” Given his family background and upbringing, the story in Prasanna’s house was entirely different. “My mother was fine. My father was really against the idea. He said, I wanted you to be a rank holder in school and you weren’t. I asked you pursue engineering and you took up films instead. I thought you would leave the decision of marriage at least to us.” But Prasanna couldn’t really explain to his dad that none of his actions were intentional. “To be very honest, he is still not completely okay. But I have decided that she is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with and nothing can change that.” Sneha and her family were certainly not happy with the fact that his parents weren’t receptive to the idea of them getting married. “I was naturally upset but I don’t really blame them given their upbringing and culture. But my parents said that any house should feel lucky to have me as a daughter in law and I am in no way less worthy.” Prasanna always wanted a girl who could respect elders and be just another girl. “I also love her because when she is at home, she is not a star and she is very close to her family and respects elders a lot.”

Wedding Bells
The couple definitely wants to tie the knot early this year. “The engagement will be sometime in March and the wedding will be in May.” The wedding is going to be a typical South Indian, Brahmin style one with all the rituals and practices included. “I was okay with it and so were my parents. At the end of the day I should be happy and that’s all my parents care about.” The almost betrothed couple says that they haven’t decided how or what their lives are going to be like post wedding. Although, the couple is very much going to stay with his family here in Chennai. Any girl’s dream before she could renounce her single status is to have her fiancé give her a rock sized diamond ring and Sneha is no different. “He promised to buy me a 2 ct diamond ring for the engagement,” signs off Sneha while Prasanna nods in agreement.

We played a game of memory with the two to see how much they remember of each other over the days and this is how they fared


First Movie together
Prasanna’s Answer

Dasavatharam (correct answer)
Sneha’s Answer

Kanda Naal Mudhal
Sneha’s Favourite Colour Sky blue Pink
Prasanna’s Favourite Colour Keeps changing Black
Sneha’s favourite Actor Kamal Hassan Shahrukh Khan
Prasanna’s Favourite Actress Asin Asin
Desired Honeymoon Destination Paris Paris
If Prasanna were to give Sneha flowers Assorted Roses

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