By Suhel Johar

Tete A Tete

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The latest to join Bollywood's star son brigade is Suchindra Bali, son of yesteryear actress-danseuse and former MP Vyjantimala. Thirty years after the actress quit Bollywood, her son Suchindra Bali is all set for his Bollywood debut with 'Aanch', which is scheduled for release in July. However, 'Aanch' is not Suchindra's first film; he has already starred in Tamil films after a brief stint in modeling. Though he is Vyjantimala's son but chooses not to wear that title. Suchindra was born in Mumbai, did his schooling in Chennai, moved to Delhi for college and then went to the US. After spending some time there, he returned to Delhi where he started modeling. "My mom was very clear that education was of prime importance and that I should complete it and I agreed with her."

Several acting sessions and dance classes later, he is now ready to move on to Bollywood. First thing on his agenda is, naturally, to set up base in the heart of the action - Mumbai. He has just moved in to a brand new highrise Raheja Classique in Andheri. Besides setting up home, he is also doing those customary rounds of producers and directors. Amidst boxes of sweets, frames and d├ęcor items still to be hung, clothes and rows of shoes, Suchindra is busy posing for a photo shoot. His blood red T-shirt is offset by mother Vyjayantimala's bright South sari and her bindi going down her forehead - all the way from the centre of her eyebrows to her hair parting. Mother Bali has flown in from Chennai to be with her son for a few days. Vyjayantimala, the first heroine from the South to make it big in Hindi films, is best remembered for her dances in films like 'Ganga Jamuna', 'Sargam', 'Madhumati', 'Amrapali' and 'Jewel Thief'.

Excerpts of an exclusive interview with Suchindra Bali:

How much did your mother influence you to get into films?

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Acting as a career just happened to me. There was no childhood ambition nor did my mom push me to it. In fact, I studied to be a lawyer. Now, I look forward to the day I have to play on the screen. One day my photograph appeared in a Tamil daily and was seen by a producer who came to sign me . Initially, I thought that he had come to meet my mother but he had come to meet me. After a brief discussion, I agreed to get into films.

Did you ever think of becoming a doctor like your father?

No. But there were aspirations while in college.

Will you stop doing films in the South since you have come to Bollywood?

I do not plan to abandon the industry that gave me my first opportunity. Even now I am working in an untitled Tamil film and I will continue to do Tamil films. I have already acted in two Tamil films 'Kannodu Kanbadellam' and 'Mugavari'. I am now acting in a film called Varsha being made in Tamil and Malayalam.

Did you get help from your mother in your career?

She is my guru and inspiration. She guides me and gives me valuable suggestions. She does not come for my shoots, but I discuss the shots with her everyday. The only time she accompanied me for a shoot was when I was facing the camera for the very first time. My mother has been my biggest support. She has been my best friend too.

How did you bag your first Hindi project?

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When producers - B L Sagoo and Poonam Jhawar- approached me with 'Aanch' I accepted the offer. I liked the story and the script. It moves from the rural to the urban setting. A major chunk of the film has been shot in Banares. With Nana Patekar and Paresh Rawal in the film, there was much to learn from them.

What's your role in your Hindi debut 'Aanch'?

I play the son of a village landlord. He is a guy who is studying in the city but whose roots are in the village. It is about how he gets caught in the feud between two village landlords and how he manages to get out of it.

Are you happy with the way your role has shaped up in the film?

My role has shaped out well. Now, I am looking forward to the audience's reaction. My mantra is to excel in whatever I do and that's what I will do in Bollywood.

Who is your favorite actress?

My mother, of course. I have liked her in many of her films. She's my favorite actress apart from Madhuri Dixit. But I think there is no one in Bollywood who can even come close to my mother where dancing is concerned.

How many of her films you watched?

I have watched mom's all films and keep on watching them. Initially, I would look at the screen and then look around at her. Then again look at her and at the screen. There was this feeling - is it really she? Is she the same person? I was fascinated watching my mom dancing.

Do you think you have a Tamil accent while speaking Hindi?

My father is a north Indian and my mother, a south Indian. Though I have done my schooling in Chennai, I went to a college in New Delhi. Do I sound like a south Indian while speaking Hindi? She asks with immaculate pronunciation and no Tamil accent.

What are the other Hindi films you have on hand?

There are some other offers but I have not signed on them. I want to do both Hindi and south side films. My trek has just begun.


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