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Thursday, October 30, 2008
Memorable break: Shilpa Bala
Dubai-based girl Shilpa Bala makes her debut as a heroine in a double role in ORKKUKA VALLAPPOZHUM, writes KK Moidu
A 11th grade student of Indian High School, Dubai, Shilpa Bala is indeed lucky to portray a double role in her debut screen appearance in Orkkuka Vallappozhum (Remember once in a while). One of these roles is that of a 16-year-old girl, Parvathi aka Paru, against a 1947 backdrop. "It was a real challenge," recalls the newcomer, who is back in Dubai after completing shooting for the film.Born and raised in Dubai, her roots are in Kanjangad (Kasargode district) in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Although the family does not boast any links with film personalities, her father Balagopal, a bank employee, is an ardent fan of Ottamthullal, a traditional folk art form. Her mother Indulekha is a trained dancer and works in a private firm in Dubai. Shilpa has a younger sister, Shwetha, studying in class 10 in Indian High School, Dubai.Says an exuberant Shilpa: "I am very happy that the film's director and my co-artistes were satisfied with my performance and now I am awaiting the verdict from the audience, the final judges." Sharing screen space with a legendary actor like Thilakan was a matter of luck for the beginner and it has given her fresh insights into acting techniques. "Although I am a debutante, the guidance of the director, the co-operation of other artistes and the experience gained on the small screen, helped me to deliver a good performance," says Shilpa.Sohanlal, the director of the film said: "Shilpa is an artiste with 100 per cent commitment and dedication. She dons a double role in the film, the two roles are entirely different and she did it fantastically. One of her character is too expressive and the other role demands underplay. Shilpa is talented and beautiful to become an artiste like Manju Varier. The industry is in need of new faces and I wish her a bright future."The fact that the director too is a debutant has not doused her enthusiasm one bit. It is pointed out to her that the film lacks the usual elements of commercial cinema or a saleable leading man. To this her argument is, "if the audience accepts my roles in Orkkuka Vallappozhum, I can perform any kind of role in future without difficulty. Had I made my debut in a superhit commercial entertainer without much importance for the heroine, I won't be able to shine in meaningful roles in the future." Shilpa's other role in the film is that of Devayani, a teenage girl in contemporary society who is the antithesis of Paru. Devayani is also different from other modern girls. When compared to Paru, portraying the role of Devayani was far easier, says the young actress. A good singer, Shilpa lent her voice to both characters.Orkkuka Vallappozhum is an old man's journey to the innocence of his past. Thilakan plays a 75-year-old Sethumadhavan, who after reaching an old bungalow in the high ranges one wintry night, recalls the sweet moments from his childhood and adolescence. The death of his wife has created a void in his life and along with it the endearing memories of Paru, his childhood companion of the same age as him, sends him on this journey down memory lane. But the bungalow's keeper, Kashi, tells him about the tragic end of his one-time sweetheart, hearing which the distraught old man rushes to the deep pit into which Paru had fallen and died.Renjith Menon of Goal fame plays the teenage Sethumadhavan and Jagadheesh portrays Kashi. The film is produced by Vinu YS under the banner of God's Own Moviz. M Jayachandran has scored the music. The film's three lovely songs have been penned by P Bhaskaran and Girish Puthencheri. The music director himself sings one of the songs. The other playback singers are P Jayachandran, Rajalakshmi and Anand, the anchor of Amrita TV's dancing competition Let's Dance. Orkkuka Vallappozhum is written and directed by Sohanlal of the mini-screen fame. The film is due to hit the screens in Kerala in November, introducing one more graceful heroine. The very first impression one gets after watching Shilpa is that she has the right blend of beauty and talent, something the audience looks for in a heroine. The gorgeous looks are accompanied by an impressive smile and the attractive eyes have a tinge of innocence in them. Without doubt Malayalam cinema has its new girl-next-door.The debutante has won much appreciation for her dancing and has participated in various youth festivals. She won a Kalathilakam at the Arabia Youth Festival 2005. She is a student of dance master Sasi Kottakkal and began training at the age of four. In addition to winning a scholarship at the school level for dancing, she has also won prizes for other art forms like mono act, light music, classical music and dramatics both at school and outside.Says Shilpa: "Dance has always been my passion and to learn more than what I have is the goal I look forward to achieve in every field I venture into." Since fifth grade she has anchored several shows on Malayalam TV channels like Asianet, Kairali and Jeevan TV etc during DSF. "The role of an anchor has helped in building up my confidence and has given me a different view about the world and people I come across. It has given me a lot of experience and the confidence to carry out stage programmes all by myself with ease," says Shilpa. She is also a bursary winner for oratory (public speaking), which is a training given by professionals to students, who have won prizes outside school in the elocution category.Shilpa is also an RJ at the school radio station, which airs 15 minutes on working days at school. She is the cultural secretary of the school and has been the captain both at the junior as well as senior school. Although she is facing the arc lights for the first time, Shilpa has appeared in the advertisements of Anashwara Jewellery, Solar Furniture, UAE Exchange Centre, Pardha House and Churidhar House etc.Smilingly Shilpa gives all the credit to her parents, relatives and friends. She says: "the encouragement and support given by them at all times gave me success and I think nothing would be complete without a thank you to God for his blessings." Expatriate girls making a debut in films is nothing new and leading South Indian heroine Sneha, was also raised in Dubai. She made her debut in the Malayalam film Ingane Oru Nilapkashi. Although her debut film Ingane Oru Nilapkashi opposite Kunjacko Boban bombed at the box office, she is a much sought-after actress in the industry. Sneha has already acted as the leading lady in over 50 films in all south Indian languages including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. However, Shilpa Bala, a fan of Tamil films, is only interested in meaningful roles though language is not a problem. Shilpa's favourite actor is Mohanlal and among actresses it is Shobhana and Urvashi. After completing the 12th grade, Shilpa wants to specialise in fashion designing for graduation. Her other interest is psychology. A dearth of screen leading ladies has been one of the biggest problems faced by the Malayalam film industry. Along with the migration of heroines to neighbouring states for better remuneration, early retirement by established actresses has aggravated this problem. The latest heroine to hint at retirement is Kavya Madhavan. Her retirement after marriage will definitely create a void. Although Shilpa hails from the same district as Kavya, she lacks the native accent, which endeared Kavya to the audience. But as far as talent is concerned, Shilpa is second to none and the audience will get a taste of this in November and most probably receive her into their hearts.