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Kushboo to play Periyar

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Chennai (UNI): Unfazed by the opposition from a section of political parties, Actor Kushboo is all set to don the role of Maniyammai, the reverred wife of Rationalist Leader Periyar E V Ramasamy, in a film about the late Dravidian stalwart. The choice of Kushboo has drawn criticism from Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) as it comes at a time when the controversy surrounding her remarks on pre-marital sex had just died down. But Kushboo, despite strong protests from PMK, Tamil Protection Movement and various women's organisations, is undeterred and eager to don the role of the reverred women in Tamil history in her nearly two decade- old film career. The issue had its echo in the Tamil Nadu Assembly too, but the ruling DMK said it was not against Kushboo portraying the role.

''One should look at the acting skills and not the actor,'' was the cryptic reply from Information and Publicity Minister Parithi Ilamvazhuthi, to a poser by Mr T Velmurugan (PMK), who questioned her choice for the film, for which the Tamil Nadu government had sanctioned Rs 95 lakh. Kushboo would don the role of Periyar's second wife Maniyammai in the second half of the film. The role of the first wife, Nagammai, is being played by Malayalam actor Jyotirmayi. Popular actor Sathyaraj is playing the lead role as Periyar in this socio-political classic being directed by Gnana Rajasekar who gave the award-winning film on Revolutionary Tamil Poet Subramania Bharathi. Filming of first part of the film is over and the shooting of the second half will commence in October.

Mr Rajasekar chose Kushboo for the role after going through the computer graphics of various film stars to match the face of Maniyammai.

Describing the opposition to her portraying the role as unfortunate, Kushboo said she is really excited to play the role and is doing a lot of homework. This is the first-ever attempt to capture Periyar (1879-1973), the stalwart of the Dravidian movement, on the celluloid. ''I am really very excited about it and I am looking forward to it. It will be a landmark film in my career as for the first time, I will be projecting a real life character on screen'', Kushboo told UNI.

''Hitherto I had been doing only glamorous roles based on fictitious characters. This will really be a landmark film in my career'', she added.

Kushboo was not unduly worried about the opposition to her donning the role and said ''I don't want to waste my energy by reacting to such statements. I wanted to go ahead with the film and concentrate on it. Let them keep talking whatever they want'', she said.

If one goes by her words, this is for the first time that the cherubic-faced actor would be doing homework for a film. ''I would look at the historic factors and also look into the way she (Maniyammai) talks and walks and study her mannerisms to give authenticity to the role'', she said.

It may be recalled that Kushboo was at the centre of controversy for her remarks that there was nothing wrong in women having pre-marital sex, so long as they did not contract any disease and protected themselves from pregnancy.

This comment during the course of an interview to a magazine, created a furore as the PMK, DPI's Tamil Protection Movement and women's organisations were up in arms, leading to agitations in front of her house and in various parts of Tamil Nadu. There were also demands from a cross section of film industry that she should be expelled from the South Indian Film Artistes Association (SIFAA).

However, in an emotional speech in a private Tamil Satellite Channel Kushboo said she was tendering an apology if she had hurt the sentiments of the Tamil women. The SIFAA too sought to put an end to the controversy by accepting the apology.

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