A normal upper middle class girl goes to school like everyone else, eats and plays with her friends like everyone else but holds a secret within – to become an actress. She watches films and tries to enact the scenes in front of the mirror but also innocently wonders how actors also seem to sing so beautifully. These were the musings of a 4-year old Tamannaah Bhatia who is counted as one of the topmost actresses in the South film industry today. Born and brought up in the glitz and glam of Mumbai, the bug of acting bit her young. So young in fact that when she made her debut in the Hindi movie ‘Chand sa roshan chehra’ she was just 13 years old.
The Actress Within
Seeing some of her characters onscreen, one cannot help but wonder how she was as a child. Her face lights up as she tries to think. “I was a very playful child and used to take part in all the extra-curricular activities in school. I was a good student as well. Ideally, I could have gone in any direction if not for movies.” In one of her summer vacations, she decided to do theater because she thought it would be fun to do something new. She took a theater workshop and was asked to join a motley theater group where she stayed for a year to get rid of her inhibitions. “For an actor, getting rid of inhibitions is very important as it helps them to bring out their inner talents to the surface. Most of my acting training happened in the theater group in a very non-contriving way and it all happened so quickly that there was no time to sit and reflect.”
‘Chand sa roshan chehra’ happened immediately after her little tryst with theater. “The producer of the film spotted me in school which incidentally had a lot of film crowd in it and his children also studied there. I started filming for it when I was 13 but the film came out when I took my board exams at the age of 15.” She kept getting offers one after the other not just in films but also in commercials for some popular brands. As much as she was captivated with the glamour of the cine industry, she finished school and then Telugu blockbuster Happy Days happened. The rest as they say is history.
Choosing the Right Path
While most of the kids her age were either studying or had career aspirations in the fields of engineering or medicine, Tamannaah already had a full-fledged career in the acting industry and at one point was juggling 4 to 5 films at the same time. “Now that I think about it, I also had clichéd aspirations of becoming a doctor if not an actress but now when I see my brother as a doctor, I thank my stars that my career did not take that path because I saw the struggles he went through to get where he is today and my career was almost given to me on a silver plate. It was just up to me to take it.”
The upbringing she had as a child was very broad-minded and allowed her to experiment with her career choices with a firm support from the family. Though her mother was a little undecided on her career choice, she had the full support of her father who left the naval background to follow his own dream in jewellery designing. “My family is very close-knit and my brother and I are very family oriented and do not respond well to separation for long periods of time. As kids, we were pretty normal and there was no film influence on us. I am glad that we came in an era which was not so internet obsessed and life was beyond Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It was quite a fun childhood.”
A Decade in the Industry
It has been 10 years since Tamannaah first made her debut in the industry and she still feels like it is a dream. “I find it very funny but at the same time privileged that I have been here for so long. In an industry where Fridays decide your fate, it is quite an achievement to hold your ground.” Actors usually come with their own share of rumors and controversies but this petite actress has managed to stay away from all of it till now. Ask her the reason for this and pat comes the response. “I owe a lot of my grounding to my parents. One thing which was very clearly taught to us while we grew up was to just mind our own work and not get into any situations which might potentially land us in trouble. I carry that around with me even now. Once a film is wrapped and packed, I follow suit and head away so there is no space for unnecessary news.”