Samyuktha Menon this year debuted in Telugu with 'Bheemla Nayak' in the role of Rana Daggubati's wife. The 26-year-old actress will be seen in the August 5th release 'Bimbisara', starring Nandamuri Kalyanram in the lead.
In this interview, the beautiful actress talks about 'Bimbisara', how Tollywood films differ from Malayalam movies, her upcoming projects, and more.
Since I love acting, I like to speak my own lines in any language that I am doing. I have to own the dialogues. I am selfish about the characters I play. That's why I have learned Telugu. During the second lockdown in 2021, I took Telugu language classes. I have also got to work with established actors so far. In their presence, I can't go for repeated takes. I want to give the best take. When I am doing a Telugu film, everyone on set sees me as a Telugu girl.
It was in 2016 that I started doing acting assignments (with the Malayalam movie 'Popcorn'). After my first movie, everyone commented that I am a bad actor (laughs). At that time, I was preparing for an exam and I just acted in that movie casually. I had no idea about the script. I was 20 or 21.
There was a time when my only aim was to settle down in a job. It took me years to get offers from the Telugu film industry. A few offers were not exciting. The first exciting opportunity that my way was 'Bimbisara'. I was told it would be made in two parts. NTR Arts producing it excited me even more. Sai Dharam Tej's 15th film came later. And finally came my way 'Bheemla Nayak', although that's the first one to be released in theatres. Dhanush sir's 'SIR' movie, too, came to me the same day. I was thrilled to sign two movies on the same day. I never expected such a thing to happen in my life.
'Bimbisara' is a time-travel fantasy movie. My character is set in the present era, not in the past. It's a little modern character.
I have always loved period movies. I watch them on repeat. I watched 'Baahubali 2' early in the morning on Day 1. 'Bajirao Mastani' and other such movies fascinate me. 'Bimbisara' is a semi-period movie. 'Bimbisara 1' marks my entry into the franchise. I have a bigger role in 'Bimbisara 2'.
Director Vasishta is so peculiar. He is everywhere on set. He doesn't sit on the chair. He personally hands over the script papers to the actors. Usually, such things are gotten done by assistants.
Kalyanram reacts through his eyes. I like such actors. In Malayalam, we react a lot through our eyes. Eyes are powerful. He is looking like a bona fide King in 'Bimbisara'.
In Mollywood, we do a lot of movies in a year (because they are small in scale). I am glad that I am getting to do big movies simultaneously in both Telugu and Malayalam (for example, Prithviraj Sukumaran's 'Kaduva'). I have been working non-stop. It's not just acting that I am passionate about. I like cinema as a whole. I am only happy that I am getting to work every single day!
Malayalam movies have compact production where 100-115 individuals exist on set at a given time. The communication between actors and director is direct. In Malayalam, we shoot in real locations. That's why films there look authentic.
We can finish three scenes in a day. An actor does three call sheets in a day sometimes. Acting is a thinking process that needs improvization. When the schedules are tight, I feel exhausted. In Telugu, exhaustion is not happening. The sets are huge.
The Samyuktha you saw in 'Bheemla Nayak' was not the starting stage of my career. I had been working very hard in Malayalam. I have played a variety of roles in Mollywood. I am privileged to say that I am getting to play substantial roles in Telugu. There, movies are realistic. Here, movies are cinematic.
People here love you and respect you so, so much. The Telugu people are emotional and very expressive. The Malayalam audience merely clap even for big mass moments. The Telugu audience, on the other hand... I don't even know how to describe (laughs). When I bagged 'Bheemla Nayak', everyone here showered love on me even though they knew nothing about me. That's because it's a Pawan Kalyan movie.
Glamour can't be equated with skin show. I am wearing full clothing right now but I am glamorous in my own way. Objectification is not glamour.
Upcoming movies: I have signed up for a dream-come-true project in Mollywood. It's more than a Malayalam movie. In Telugu, I have completed shooting for 'SIR' ('Vaathi' in Tamil). As for SSMB28, I am not doing it. It's a sweet false rumour that I am doing it.