The 10 Years of Tamannaah

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‘Chand Sa Roshan Chehra’ was released in March 2005 (no DVD release yet), sunk without a trace and had only managed to get some visibility for itself prior to the release for two reasons. One, the lead actor Samir Aftab was compared to (hold your breath!) Salman Khan in terms of looks and appearance and the actor tried his best to capitalize on this comparison by making statements in which he said he is a huge Salman Khan fan and he is an inspiration to him. The second factor was the mellifluous song “Aage Aage Chahat Chali“, composed by Jatin Lalit and rendered by Udit Narayan, that went on to become very popular. Even the film was full of clichés, it was enjoyable in parts. While Samir gave a decent performance, it was the heroine’s performance which was the highlight. The lead actress, who looked like someone in her early teens, was credited as Tamanna. There is a scene in the film in which a full grown man like Samir Aftab kisses a then 14 year old Tamannaah.

Interestingly, it was a scene in which he was shown to be kissing her forcibly. That was a man when a Hindi film hero had the right to stalk, harass and put the heroine through any trouble and still be called an ‘aashiq’ (lover). However, that was her first film post which she maintained a strict ‘no kissing’ policy. She has also categorically stated that she would never wear a bikini in any of her films. When she was asked to don one in ‘Humshakals’ (2014), she politely refused and instead wore a crop top with a pair of shorts. The other two heroines, Bipasha Basu and Esha Gupta, did not have any such reservations though.

Tamannaah Bhatia’s (she changed the spelling of her first name for numerological reasons) first brush with popularity happened the same year with the music video ‘Lafzon Mein Keh Na Sakun’ for Indian Idol winner Abhijeet Sawant’s debut album ‘Aapka Abhijeet’ (2005). The first season of Indian Idol, the Indian version of American Idol, turned out to be very popular and made its winner Abhijeet Sawant an overnight star. The aforementioned song from the album became very popular and its music video, which featured the pretty actress along with the singer, was promoted well on air. Although Tamannaah was good in her debut film, she looked a lot ease in this video. The dismal performance of ‘Chand Sa Roshan Chehra’ forced her to look for success elsewhere. At the age of 15, she was a part of the Fair & Lovely campaign which helped her get noticed by the South Indian film industry. It did not take long for her to bag her first film down South. Her first Telugu film Sri (2005) was followed by her first Tamil film Kedi (2006). Unfortunately, both the films bombed at the box at the box office. It was director Sekhar Kammula’s film ‘Happy Days’ (2007) which marked the beginning of happy days for her in the Telugu film industry. It was the first of many hits Tamannaah delivered in the Telugu and Tamil film industry. The South Film industry does not really churn out many women-centric roles and does not offer too many challenging roles to the actresses. The actresses do not get as many opportunities as the actors and keeping this factor in mind, Tamannaah has done very well for herself. She has been a part of several commercial potboilers that have done well at the box office and have given her a decent scope to show her prowess as an actor. Some of her memorable performances have been in films like ‘Ananda Thandavam’ (2009), ‘Kanden Kadhalai’ (2009), ‘Paiyaa’ (2010) and ‘100% Love’ (2011).

Tamannah, in many of her interviews, has stated that she grown up watching Hindi films and idolizing Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit. She claims to have seen ‘Jab We Met’ (2007) several times in the theatre. Interestingly, she reprised Kareena’s character in its Telugu remake ‘Kanden Kadhalai’ (2009). It remains a mystery as to why Tamannaah, who had all the trappings of a Hindi film heroine, stayed away from the Hindi film industry for a long time. Was there a dearth of good offers or did she want to focus on her career down South? This question can be best answered by the actress herself.

Tamannaah made a comeback to Hindi films in 2013, eight years after she made her debut. She reprised Sridevi’s role in director Sajid Khan’s remake of the 1983 blockbuster ‘Himmatwala’. Sajid Khan had gone on record to say that it took him a while to zero in on a heroine for the film. He wanted someone who could match Sridevi’s personality and do justice to the character that the veteran actress played in the original. Though Tamannah had idolized Sridevi all her life, she had not seen the original film when the film was offered to her. Himmatwala was touted to be a blockbuster but the film, which most found to be a lazy rip off, crashed at the box office. Tamannaah did not let the failure of the film bog her down and went on to sign two Hindi films ‘Humshakals’ (2014) and ‘Entertainment’ (2014) apart from giving the nod to some high profile projects down South. ‘Humshakals’ was another blow to her. The film did not do well and amassed a lot of negativity for itself. Tamannaah’s next Hindi film was Tips’ ‘Entertainment’ co-starring Akshay Kumar. The film was an average success brought some assuagement to her dwindling Bollywood career.

Tamannaah has not signed any Hindi film post the release of ‘Entertainment’ but she has some interesting projects in hand down South. One of her films which is soon going to hit the S S Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘Bahubaali’, in which she plays a warrior prince. The film has also been dubbed in Hindi so that it reaches out to people who do not follow Telugu. The Hindi version is being presented by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. There are very few South films whose dubbed versions have worked at the box office. However, with Karan Johar at the helm of affairs one can expect a good promotional strategy that would help the film work on a national level. And for all you know, Tamannaah could catch the attention of the maverick filmmaker who might cast her in one of his upcoming films. Tamannaah’s career is soaring high in the South. It is high time she makes a splash in the Hindi film industry too.

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