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Acclaimed yesteryear heroine Archana talks about Chor Bazaar and more

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Acclaimed yesteryear actress Archana was known for hits like 'Ladies Tailor' and 'Nireekshana'. She is making a comeback in Telugu with 'Chor Bazaar', which is hitting the cinemas on June 24. In this interview, Archana talks about her unconventional character in the Jeevan Reddy directorial, what she wishes to play on the big screen, and more.

I have been in Chennai after I stopped doing movies. I am a contented person who always stays satisfied. I don't even remember some of the movies that I did in some phase. My directors and gurus took me to new heights. I was part of the parallel cinema movement and not just commercial cinema. Indian cinema embraced me throughout my career. I didn't want to spoil my filmographic track record by doing any and every role. So, I took a break. Even so, I did continue to do occasional art films occasionally in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. I was away from Telugu completely.

A lot of offers came my way month after month from Telugu. I don't want to name them. I am grateful to the directors here for all those offers. I didn't do them because they were not novel. In most of the films, female actors don't have new sort of roles. An aged actor has to play a mother, wear beautiful sarees and do the job of a typical housewife, receiving guests, etc. Or, she should back her hero-son in the face of her husband's temper tantrums. Or, she should encourage her son to kill the villain. Or, she should play a demure sister-in-law. Don't women have any other role to play in life? Should they always play a sister, a mother, or a wife to someone? Don't women have their own wishes? Don't they have a mind of their own? Don't some women have the desire to learn dancing in their middle-age?

I watched Jeevan Reddy's 'George Reddy' and felt that the director himself is a violent person (laughs). I was scared thinking about what kind of a violent person he might be! That film was a very bold attempt since it was destined to court controversies. I also liked Jeevan's technical calibre on display. More than technology, he used his creative prowess in executing 'George Reddy'.

When 'Chor Bazaar' came my way, I learned about my character. The director told me that I am nobody's mother or sister in the film. It's a unique character whose thinking is distinctive. The director told me that my character would be in love with Amitabh Bachchan in the movie. The character remains unmarried because of her unrequited love. She is a classical dancer who can also sing. I found the idea catchy. She is her own individual who is not related to the hero or heroine.

There are women in Tamil Nadu who remained unmarried due to their desire to marry (Late) MGR. So, my character remaining unmarried in 'Chor Bazaar' for Big B's sake felt realistic.

I don't believe in second innings, third innings, etc. What made me do 'Chor Bazaar' is that the director conceived an unconventional character. I am going to be busy with various assignments for the next 2-3 years. I have no desire to work with this or that actor, this or that director. I have no desire to act till the last breath. Only great artists like SPB and Nirmalamma have such passion and commitment.

Even if my role is limited to just one or two scenes in a movie, it has to be impactful. In 'Chor Bazaar', there is an element of suspense around my character. I will be seen as a complete youngster for a couple of minutes in the movie! I was reluctant to do the part but I did it for the director's sake.

A lot of young Telugu filmmakers do offer me roles. But I have rarely asked them to meet me. These days, Telugu films are of better quality than Tamil films. If I do a film, it has to satisfy me, it has to give me fulfillment.

Women have the best sort of roles in Marathi movies. Actresses of my age are doing love stories there. They are even doing bold scenes in Marathi movies despite being above the age of 40 or 50.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, I felt really lonely when great people like SPB and lakhs others died.

I might do a web series. I have listened to the story. It will feature an ensemble cast.

Updated on June 21, 2022