I was only acting in commercial films when Adoor Gopalakrishnan asked me to act in Swayamvaram. In fact, being a commercial actress, I was scared to commit myself to an art film. He said he would come to Chennai and narrate the story to me.
It was at the Prasad studios that we met for a story narration. I was floored by the way he explained the story to me. As he narrated it, I could see the film in front of me. The moment he finished the story, without even thinking twice, I said yes. I was so moved by the story that I immediately told him, ‘I don’t know whether I will get an award for this film but I am sure that you and the film will get awards.’
I also told him that I had no experience in acting in art films.
I still remember how the film was shot. As the director, he was so thorough about what he wanted from all the artistes that there was absolutely no strain on us. We only had to do what he said. He made us forget our identities, and by the end of the film, we felt like the characters in the film. When we shot for Swayamvaram,not once did I think I was Sarada. I was always Sita, the character.
I would say what we did for Swayamvaram was not acting; it was realism.
There is never any chaos on Adoor sir’s sets. He is so soft spoken that the person standing next to you cannot hear what he tells you. There was never any distinction between anybody on his sets; all were treated equal.
When the National Awards were announced, we were happy when Swayamvaram won four major awards. It was not a small achievement at all.