When you tire of waiting for a seat at the table, you have to create a table of your own. Few women epitomise this better than Samantha Ruth Prabhu, as she continues on her most unusual journey. Her philosophy is a simple one—when it comes to change, someone has to take the first step.
After a crackling 11-year career in the southern film industry, she’s now embarked on the second phase of her journey. Professionally, we see Samantha overcoming her fears, breaking free of the girl nextdoor trope, which has latched on to her since her magical debut in Ye Maaya Chesave (2010), as well as the victim-turns-victor stereotype favoured by “heroine-oriented” films.
“I’ve always fought being typecast as the bubbly, cute girl next-door, non-threatening persona,” Samantha says. And we believe that her fight has finally paid off. “Every character that I get offered now seems to be different from previous one!” she adds. So from her passion project Shakunthalam to films with two young directors Ashwin Saravanan and Shantaruban Gnanasekaran, the unfamiliar emotional space is what dictates her choices now.
Samantha also channels her sense of sisterhood actively. “It means picking each other up, making us stronger together,” she says. So whether it was accepting a small role in Mahanati (2018), even though she knew the titular character wasn’t hers or acting with Nayanthara in the upcoming Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaadhal (directed by Nayanthara’s partner Vignesh Shivan), she is willing to go the distance for her art. “Who is going to take the first step?” Samantha asks. “I find it very amusing to see two-heroine films where the women never meet each other on the sets. In other people’s minds, two heroines in one film are always supposed to be in competition, tearing each other’s hair out, but Vignesh and Nayanthara kept their promise to me—My role is equal to Nayanthara’s and I’m in every scene with her. It was so liberating!”
Samantha, who recently completed the char dham yatra, also talks to us about her spiritual journey. ” It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. Something just changes in you forever. I feel God has given me just the right amount of strength to continue. I even started meditating during the lockdown,” she says.
The actress has a unique take on social media. “I don’t demand unconditional acceptance,” she says frankly. “I encourage people to have different opinions but we can still love and have compassion for each other. I would only request them to express their disappointment in a more civilised way,” she adds.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for this graduate of Chennai’s Stella Maris College but definitely an enriching one. She’s eager to absorb, just like a sponge, and wants to be better every day. Samantha’s changing and so are her performances. And as audiences, we’re in luck.
Content director & Editor: Kamna Malik; Photographer: Taras Taraporvala, Fashion editor: Zoha Castelino; Hair & makeup: Avni Rambhia; Cover design: Nidhi Nagvekar; Marketing head: Ekta Ashar; Production: Imran Khatri Productions; Assisted by: Komal Shetty, Priyuta Sodiwala (styling), Aliza Fatma (editorial); Actor’s PR agency: Think Talkies.