THE ART OF BEING AWESOME
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From being a Grade A student, she went on to win the Miss Madras (1999) title and dazzled the nation with her killer smile at the subsequent Miss India beauty pageant. Had she won the crown and moved on into the Miss Universe league, we are pretty sure Bollywood would have swooped down and grabbed her. That Miss Beautiful Smile was all we needed to warmly welcome her into South Indian Cinema.
Forever Trisha will be haunted by that maiden television interview of hers where she pointedly states ‘cinema is just not my cup of tea’! The naive girl that she was, she spoke her mind with no inhibitions. Who knew that cup of tea would come back to bite her a few years later when she made her big sccreen debut! It was a popular night time talk show hosted by writer-comedian Yuhi Sethu. She was fresh out of her Miss Beautiful Smile title. And he asked her quite directly if she planned on getting into cinema. She did not hesitate to say no! The clip that is still doing the rounds online, showcases a young, impressionable Trisha, unaware of the blazing celluloid future ahead!
In many ways Trisha is still the same. She may try very hard to keep her thoughts to herself, but her sincere nature always gets the better of her. Even when she says, “No comments” her unbiased honest opinion is staring at you through her eyes. Like when she is faced with the “What’s going on between you and Rana?” question for the millionth time, she may say very curtly “Nothing” but the flicker of irritation in her eyes from being thoroughly fed-up with having to answer every third person about her off-screen friendships, is for all to see. That honesty, is what we thoroughly admire in her. It’s hard to be in an industry that’s all about putting on a good show and yet manage to maintain your true personality. What keeps her sane? “My friends. When I am seething over something they shut me off by laughing at me or not paying attention. But when I need them the most, they are always there. They keep me grounded and they keep me sheltered,” she reveals.
And shelter is something she has been in need of often. The actress has been the eye of many a storm, invariably landing there inadvertently. When you have star power such as hers, you need to watch what you say and do. People often forget that behind those melting smiles, is a young woman bubbling with energy and yearning for fun. She loves her close buddies. Loves hanging out with them. Loves enjoying a good party. So let her go a bit crazy and have a good time. Don’t we all wish we could just let our hair down and frisk out the stress? Why should Trisha be any different? Not that the prying media eye ever got to her! She’s always lived life on her own terms.
It takes a lot of inner strength and guts of titanium to make a decision that you know everyone is going to talk about for years to come. Yet she managed to do it and was careful not to give away too much.
When Trisha got engaged to a business big wig, it was a match that seemed perfect in many ways. But the biggest question that loomed in front of us all was that will she quit cinema like many of her predecessors. Many top actresses, over the years, have stepped down from their heroine stilettos the minute they were wed. Trisha did not seem like the kind to hang up her boots on account of marriage. But even before we could get our answer for that query, we had another question to ask: Why did she call off the wedding? The engagement had been a grand event - she invited only near and dear. So what went wrong? We will never know. But we definitely are in awe of her courage to say no the minute she knew she didn’t want to do it, rather than to suffer in silence.
Over the last few years, Trisha has been on a ‘take it easy’ mode. She seems absolutely at peace with herself and her career. she is in no rush to make movies with all the top heroes, but that’s probably because she has worked with all of them! She is not chasing after movies with big directors and definitely not getting all worked up over the number of new heroines debuting in cinema every month. They are not her competition - not even in her league. “I have never felt insecure. It may sound arrogant, but that’s the truth. I have always been confident that work will come, and it has. I don’t look at other actresses and feel jealous. I can’t do every movie out there. There will always be other actresses. But that just does not make me feel any less worthy,” she says in all confidence. And the way she is gliding through cinema, is proof enough that she is not perturbed by her contemporaries. She’ll do a movie now, then take a holiday, then look at a few scripts and take another holiday even! She is in a comfortable place now and she is enjoying that space.
The media is often guilty of labelling stars as No.1 or No.2. There is no actual means to measure who is on top and who is not, yet these tags exist. Trisha ruled the roost for the longest and even now, in spite of many successful heroines, signing on Trisha for a movie is considered a big achievement. Her name on the credits adds value to the production. “The tag per se is not real. But there is a hierarchy of sorts. There is the top level, then the next and the next, but there are no strict dividing lines. Whoever gives a blockbuster is immediately called No. 1. So more than that tag, what matters more is sustaining yourself at the top. That stability is what ultimately makes the difference,” she says. Spoken like a wise woman.
Off the screen Trisha is not just a grounded pal to her long-time friends; she is also an absolute supporter of several worthy causes. The actress has voiced her ideas in favour of PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) several missions. Recently PETA has come to be seen as an organisation that values animals over people and culture, and that is a whole other topic for discussion. Trisha is a self-confessed ‘dog lady’. She loves canines probably more than she can ever love another human! If you are a dog-lover, you will probably understand and empathise with her feelings! Trisha was a big support in PETA’s endeavour to encourage the adoption of Indian dogs. For many dog owners, the breed of their pet is a source of pride. What many people don’t know is the inhuman nature of breeding these ‘good breed’ dogs. Trisha played an important part in promoting PETA’s ‘I love Indian Dogs’ campaign by speaking in favour of it and doing a photo-shoot for the same. A recent picture that she posted on Instagram with her ‘babies’ reinstates her love for these four-legged bundles of fluff and drool!
Of course when you support an organisation that is often at loggerheads with society, you are bound to get into trouble yourself! Early in 2017 when Tamil Nadu took centre stage for the Jallikattu issue, Trisha made the mistake of supporting PETA’s concern for the animals that were used in the sport. The actress did not directly oppose the game but raised a question regarding the safety of the animals. She was immediately subject to criticism and abusive language for being anti-cultural. Of course, her friends within the industry came to her support and the issue was subsequently dropped. This is one more classic example of Trisha being herself in spite of the omnipresent media eye!
Late last year Trisha was made UNICEF celebrity advocate. She is the first South Indian actor to be conferred with this honour. As a part of UNICEF, she now fosters education for all and speaks against child marriage and child abuse. Job Zachariah, Chief of UNICEF office—Tamil Nadu and Kerala, stated that he was sure that Trisha joining the cause would help them be heard by more people. The growing rate of crimes against women and children is appalling. In spite of several laws and campaigns, there is next to no change. Trisha believes that educating and empowering the girl child is the first step towards reduction in the rate of social evils. Eradication of child marriage will definitely reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. These are all pertinent issues in spite of it being the twenty first century. As a UNICEF advocate Trisha hopes to create an awareness of child rights and to support all Government endeavours to provide better health-care and nutrition for children and adolescents.
She may be a pretty face in an industry that thrives on looking good. But she surely knows how to be true to herself, how to hold her head high through bad times and what social causes to stand up for. We stand in awe of her awesomeness!
MAYBE BECAUSE I AM FROM A SPORTS BACKGROUND, I DON’T GIVE UP EASILY. I AM A FIGHTER.
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