South is always in my blood and will act in South Indian movies as long as south calls me – Flora Saini.
Hi Flora. Would like to appreciate you for the latest pictures that are being circulated on the internet. You look as hot and beautiful as you used to look in the past. What is the secret of your beauty?
I think it has lot to do with my mental state and it is showing in my looks. There were times in past when I have fluctuated with weight. I’m kinda eased out and think much better now. Its all in the mind I guess. I’m happy, content and mature and probably that’s showing.
It has been quite sometime since you entered movies and sizzled on the screen as Lux Papa. How did you enter movies and can you Pl tell us about your debut?
That’s a long story. Oh god. My father was in army and after school we were in kolkata and were waiting for results. I gave shot in beauty contests there. I lost few initially and then won few. Later we shifted to Delhi and I participated in a beauty contest in Army Club and I was crowned as the Runners Up. That got me offers from Mumbai and that got to me into thinking. I thought that I should have formal training to succeed in film industry and hence I shifted to Mumbai to do a course with Namit Kishore. I was in the 2nd month of the course and then Hero Venkat, who was an alumnus of Namit Kishore came looking for a fresh face for the movie he is acting in Veerashankar’s direction. He saw me and informed Director Veerashankar who selected me as heroine of Prema Kosam. During the shoot we used to stay in Brahmanandam sir’s guesthouse opp EVV sir’s house and EVV sir used to see me going for shoot every day and then asked me to act in his movie. As I was being launched by Veerashankar sir, EVV sir told me that I will act in his next movie- Chaala Baagundhi.
Chaala Baagundhi brought you lot of fame. You have played a performance oriented role in your second film itself. How was it working in that movie? How did you handle that role?
I will give 100 percent credit to EVV sir for my performance in that film. He used to act every scene to us and ask us to do the way he does. He told me that I should behave like a small kid and I act the way he showed it to me. Chaala Bagundhi brought me a very good name and I should say it’s because of EVV sir that I felt that this role was the one I did with very little effort.
Your career took off after Narasimha Naidu and you have become popular. How was it working with Nandamuri Balakrishna?
Balayya Babu is a very nice human being and an excellent co-star. I have got to learn lot of things from him and the most important is his memory power. He has great memory power and he not only remembers his own dialogues but also dialogues from his father’s films very much. I was a new comer trying to remember my dialogues and I used to forget my dialogues looking at his performance. He helped me a lot to say my dialogues and improvised my acting. He has fantastic following and I was amazed at the fan following he had during the shoot. We went for 100 days function of this film and it was so memorable. We were on open air truck and I could see only heads for long distances and nothing else. I was amazed at the fan following he enjoyed. He is truly a great star.
You had also acted in Tamil and Kannada after this movie. Were you happy the way your career progressed?
Not really. I was not from filmy background and I didn’t have anyone to guide me. I just got my first film and it worked. I didn’t have proper guidance and I feel that the person who was handling my films should have been more responsible and guided me well. I realized that at some point of time when I saw myself getting supporting roles majorily. When I put my foot down, few people talked bad and it affected me. But I’m glad that I’m still getting work when my peers like Rambha, Raasi are no longer working. If you look at my recent films, Broker is nominated for national award and my role in AA intlo was received so well. What else do I need?
Your next destination was Hindi where you acted opposite Sonu Nigam in his debut film Love in Nepal. How was your experience on this film?
It was excellent. Sonu was a singing star and a big name but he was very down to earth and co-operative. I enjoyed working in this film.
It was a sort of dream debut but the film failed to take off. Do you think this move has harmed your prospects down south?
I don’t know. I think I was misguided not to do Hindi films as it takes longer time. I think I didn’t have good PR and that’s what has affected my prospects in south as well as in Bollywood. I should have had proper guidance and lack of it has definitely affected me.
To talk about your career, you have seen worse times in 2008 when you were detained in the Visa Scam. From a film star people labeled you as Fallen Star. Did this episode de motivate you? What was your mental state at that time? Were you worried about your career?
Don’t ask me. That was the horrid time I could never forget. Everyone I knew left me and no one was listening to me. Media was writing what they wanted and no one asked me as to what exactly has happened. People were writing that I had visited US many times while the fact was that I didn’t visit even once. There was this one reporter from TV9 who came to Chennai and asked me on what exactly happened . Except for him no one was bothered about the facts. I did a press meet in Hyderabad after I was cleared and I was amazed that no one wanted to listen to me. All they were interested was to see how I would react and if I would cry or not. My mom was very supportive all thru the bad times and told me to stay calm and assured me that I will come out as I haven’t done any wrong.
Three years since the sad episode and you have signed your new bollywood film. How do you feel about your comeback?
I feel good. In Telugu I think I completed one circle and now new roles need to come to me. My peers are no longer there and many young people are in. So I had to look for different market and hence Hindi. What I’m enjoying in Mumbai right now is struggle. I will definitely act in South Indian if I’m offered good roles.
What are your future plans? Have you signed any films down south?
I cannot leave south. I think south is in my blood. The punctuality, treatment is so better than Mumbai and as long as south keeps calling me, I’m there.
What is your philosophy in life? What drives so hard towards your goal?
We have just one life and we should live it to the fullest. That’s what I have realized during my bad times. And I have learnt not to trust anyone by face value the way I did. This man was a known person in Industry and hence I trusted him and didn’t check my visa documents and finally landed in trouble. I would advise all to check everything that you do and don’t place blind faith on anyone.
Film Industry is part of male dominated society and I’m sure there are many hurdles for women who aspire to act including casting couch. How did you face such hurdles?
Touch wood, I never faced anything like that. In Telugu, success came to me pretty early and hence I never faced any such situations. In fact I never gave any opportunity to anyone to come out with such proposals. Had I budged to the wishes of people, I could have got better and bigger roles but my respect was paramount and I believe that as long as you are strong no one would mess around with you.
All the best Flora and we wish you all the good luck for your future projects.
Thank you. Thanks a lot.
Brahma Mahesh (TheOnlyBrahma on twitter)