“School days were the most fun days of my life.”
Right from an early age, Trisha was destined to travel the world. Her father lived and worked in America (in the hotel Industry) for 13 years. Recounting her experiences she says, “Though I was born and brought up in Chennai, I used to visit my father who was working in New York during my holidays. I had the best of both worlds and I was extremely pampered and had too much of love from everyone in the family.”
Trisha claims she has always been a prankster during her school days at Sacred Heart Convent, Church Park, Chennai. “Age has caught up with me; I have mellowed over the years. But I used to be a big bully in school. I was a complete brat but I used to get away with it since I was a very good student. I loved studying. School days were the most fun days of my life. I had a wonderful gang of friends and I would love to revisit those years of my school life.”
“Ballet helped me to develop grace”
With erratic schedules and various hobbies to accommodate, she dabbled in carnatic singing, veena and even Bharatanatyam! However, these didn’t last long and it was ballet which finally caught her interest. She practised this for 7 to 8 years. “I enjoyed it and it helped me get over my fear of performing on stage. It helped me to be flexible and develop grace.”
“I wanted to become a Criminal Psychologist”
She did a Bachelor of Business Administration in college as she liked math, a lot. She also enjoyed Psychology and she says, “I wanted to become a Criminal Psychologist. But right from school, I wanted to be famous. Films were a complete no-no, coming from a Tamil Brahmin family. After I participated and won the Miss Chennai title I took up modeling as a hobby. I was quite excited with the extra pocket money. My mother, said, “I will support you as long as you stick to ads, so long as you don’t get into films.” She said this because ads don’t eat into your time like films.”
“I joined Ethiraj College as I heard they were lenient with regards to modelling. However, I couldn’t attend classes regularly since I got really busy with modelling and hence didn’t have a chance to enjoy my college life.”
“Miss India pageant was like finishing school for me”
Trisha recalls her spectacular journey pausing to recollect everything that has contributed to her moulding. “It first started with a portfolio, I then moved onto ads. After that, Miss Chennai happened and then Miss India. It was one step at a time into movies.
“I always knew I was not cut out to be a ramp model. I remember that I entered the Miss India contest because my friends and family suggested so; but I am glad I took the step. It was where my grooming happened. It was like finishing school for me. There are things I follow till this day from that period of intense training. Things like diet, diction and poise. Also you learn to adjust to different circumstances as it is not easy being with some 30 other girls for over 45 days,” she acknowledges with that characteristic twinkle in her eye (Trisha incidentally won one of the sub-titles at the pageant – Miss Beautiful Smile).
“Everybody thinks films are a big bad world”
Her love for films couldn’t be contained for long. She goes on to elaborate. “I started receiving offers for films ever since I started becoming popular in ads. But everything fell in place when Priyadarshan sir wanted to cast me in his film. He was known to be good with newcomers so I gladly accepted the offer to debut in his film, Lesa Lesa. Everybody thinks the film industry is a big, bad world. The truth is it functions according to your principles. If you keep your self respect intact, no big, bad wolf can prey on you. I didn’t know if films were going to work for me, but I knew it was what I always wanted to do. Till this day, each time I step onto a new film set, it feels new.”
“My detractors said I was too skinny”
With her share of ups and downs, Trisha has been fortunate to have reached the top of the ladder in such a short span of time but equal credit goes to her staying power and hard work. She goes back to her starting days and takes us through it all. “The industry was happy to have a Tamil actress and they were very welcoming in their media coverage and write-ups. Most of the leading actresses, like Simran and Jyothika, were from Mumbai and it was heart warming that the media promoted me equally as well.”
But she solemnly adds, “There was a section of people which said that I would never make it. They said that models couldn’t act and that I was too skinny. A lot of people told me to put on weight but I said that I can’t change myself. Fortunately, it worked. It did take a while though. Eventually, I did prove them wrong,” she adds confidently.
“I had the best of Tamil and Telugu movies”
She is a study in perseverance and patience. It was a long wait before her work could be seen on screen but she was not the one to give up. “Three of my films were delayed. The third film I shot for was my first release. But this is usually the case with many actors, and I dealt with it positively.”
An eternal optimist, she is indebted to her well wishers who convinced her that everything had a purpose and it would all work out. “In spite of the wait, I never really had to suffer or struggle to make it. In Tamil, Saamy was my turning point. It was my biggest hit. After that Ghilli happened. Then I shifted to Telugu for a while and began doing a lot of films there. I had the best of both worlds as I never stagnated in either language.”
“I have great respect for M S Raju”
Her successful inning in the Telugu industry leaves her warm with memories of being pampered on the sets. She travels back in time to her first film there. “I have great respect for M S Raj. He launched me in Telugu at a time when none of my big films were released in Tamil. We undertook Varsham which turned out really well. Those days, not too many actresses were doing different languages at the same time. If I lasted in Telugu, It’s only because of the roles he gave me. He was great to work with. I did three films with him where the scripts were tailor made for the female character. For someone to have that much faith in you, when you haven’t made it yet, was really great,” she says with utmost modesty.
A large part of her fondness for the film industry is based on her years in the Telugu industry as she says, “I won most of my awards there including the prestigious Nandi Award.”
“I was approached for films specifically written with me in mind”
Trisha feels her fantastic stint in Telugu films helped her strengthen her position in Tamil movies. “After I proved my mettle in Telugu movies, I was approached for films specifically written with me in mind. That was indeed a humbling experience and prompted me to give my best in all my films.” Abhiyum Naanum is one such film she remembers fondly.
“I’ve never really been too ambitious about Bollywood.”
She claims that she ‘never had that fire in the belly to make it in Bollywood.’ However, she is open to quality cinema and will do a good role if it comes her way. “It would have to be something very big for me to move and go there for a few months, as my primary fan base is here, in the South.”
“Bollywood works very differently and even the PR there works very differently. You have to be based there if you want to have 3 to 4 releases a year and have that kind of visibility, but I’ve never really been too ambitious about Bollywood,” she avers frankly.
Even while talking about her role in Khatta Meetha, she says, “When I was approached for it, I never took it as my launch in Bollywood. Then I realized that everyone was viewing it as a launch pad.”
She is forgiving about how her role went unnoticed and honestly opines, “The character I played (that of a mature government official) in the film worked against me. It’s something I could have done as an established person in Bollywood, but it didn’t work as my first film there. There were so many expectations. That’s not how people would have wanted to see me.”
“However, my most memorable roles have been in regional movies, Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana and Vinaathandi Varuvaaya, which has given me the stature i enjoy here today.
“Even now, I have to brace myself when I know it’s a song shoot”
Speaking of memorable roles, how does Trisha prepare herself for each of her characters? On training and prepping herself for a shoot, she admits that her biggest hurdle is shaking a leg. “I did train in dancing. I got a personal trainer for dance. Though I am used to dancing, film dancing is a huge obstacle for me. Even now, I have to brace myself when I know it’s a song shoot. I do get a little tense when I’m notified that a song picturisation is going to take place. Film dancing is not just about moving your body; it is about lip sync, expressions, eye contact and perfect timing. It’s also very unrealistic and I’m still learning how to cope with it all.”
“Rest and Relaxation is compulsory for me to recharge my batteries”
An actor’s life is always busy but Trisha ensures she doesn’t get burned out. “I always make sure to take time off, especially on weekends. It keeps me grounded and gets me back to reality. I make sure I work only for 3 weeks in a month. I like spending time with my people, my family. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary, but it’s my breathing space. Also as a rule, I don’t work in May and December every year when I head off on a vacation with my friends. These breaks are essential for me to recharge my batteries.”
“My mother and I jointly decide which venture I should work on”
Moms make the world go round and this is even more so in Trisha’s case. It is well known that her mother is her confidante and career manager. “My mother and I jointly decide which venture I should work on, especially the major projects. Even if I did hear a script without her, I would still want my mother’s opinion. I don’t discuss it with anyone else, not friends, not family, only my mother. I can’t do without her. Even if she’s busy, I always wait for her to finish her work and then get her opinion,” asserts the actor.
“My marriage is a rumour”
Trisha has a mind of her own, and doesn’t get swayed by rumours or media frenzies.
“I’ve always thought that I’m a misfit in the industry even though what I do is so normal. I always feel that one should live their life fully. If you lose yourself, what are you here for? I still have fun with my friends; I don’t need to stop that. A lot of things have been exaggerated. A lot of rubbish has been written. There are instances when my friends have also been dragged into controversies. Though I fume about it privately I have learnt to just ignore any allegations because it doesn’t last too long. I’m very indifferent to what people I’m not close to say. I’ve been here for 10 years, which is a very long span for an actress. It all goes according to your last film. If your previous film is a hit, the barbs fizzle out.”
But what does the actress have to say about the reports in various sections of the media claiming that she is all set to marry a business tycoon? “My marriage is a rumour. It is completely baseless. I am not getting married anytime soon. Why would I hide it if I was? If I was really in love, I wouldn’t care what people say.”
“I would want to be known first as a star, then as an actor”
For an actress to have courted controversies with the regularity that she does, and still keep going strong, she surely is doing something right. She admits, “Professionalism is the key. There are people who have come up and then dropped off the radar in a nanosecond just like that and for the silliest of reasons like troubling people or coming late. As an actor, you are dealing with at least 5-10 people everyday. If you let success go to your head and abuse your star power, you will lose everything.”
She is a darling of the masses and loves a big hit. “Commercial success is commercial success,” she smiles. “A lot of people have asked me, ‘Which do you prefer? Pot boilers or art house creations?’ I always maintain that I would want to be known first as a star, then as an actor.”
“I have always wanted to do something in the restaurant business”
When speaking about competition she says, “A fresh face is always a fresh face. People would always want to see someone new, something new. But if you’ve carved a niche for yourself, you will always get the work you’re meant to get.”
Ask the lovely lady about her plans post filmdom and she replies excitedly yet level headedly, “I have always wanted to do something in the restaurant business but it needs a lot of time. It is something I would want to branch out into eventually. I love food and the idea of starting a restaurant thrills me.”
“I feel cooking is therapeutic”
Her slender frame belies her love for everything gastronomic. “I eat anything, I am a complete foodie! In fact, chocolates pep me up when I’m feeling low,” she says. Is she only a voracious eater or does she don the chef’s hat too? “I can make noodles (not the instant variety); I also make good daal and sabzi (so I can survive). I’ve started learning to bake. I feel cooking is therapeutic.”
And how does she manage to keep the calories from piling up? “Power yoga, which I am doing religiously for the past 2 years, is the only thing that works for me,” she confesses.
“I don’t believe in following fashion trends”
Trisha’s outfits have always made scintillating fashion statements. How does she get it spot on every time? “I don’t believe in following trends; I find trends stifling. Even when skinny jeans and red lipstick were in, I didn’t wear them because they didn’t work for me. I prefer to follow my own sense of style. Comfort is the key. If I feel good about it, I wear it. I’m most comfortable in jeans and T shirts. I love dresses. Of late, I have started wearing sarees a lot,” she says.
“When I’m working I need my solitude”
At work, Trisha is a thorough professional. “On the sets, I’m a bit reserved. When I’m working I need my solitude,” she admits.
But in real life, the chirpy and bubbly Trisha is the life of any party. She has a list of best buds inside and outside the industry with whom she loves to yap nineteen to the dozen. What is the happy go lucky lady’s mantra for contentment? She says with sweet simplicity, “Never take life too seriously. Try and react to happiness and grief the same way.”
Men at the helm
Trisha admits without qualms that she is a director’s actor pointing out that everybody’s working style is very different.
Gautham Menon: He just lets you be. He rarely corrects you. He hardly does rehearsals; he believes that in your first shot you get it right!
Selvaraghavan: He is a perfectionist. He sometimes does 60-70 takes for a shot. He believes that every movement of the eye should be precise and that every second you have to look like the character.
Mani Rathnam: When working with Mani Rathnam, we shot with live sound. Hence, he was very particular about diction. You cannot act in his films, it has to be realistic.
Prabhu Deva: He likes being dramatic, which worked for the film I did with him, and it’s his style.