Keralites remember Rohini as a pert, pretty little heroine who was part of the bevy of leading ladies of the 1980’s. Then came a hasty marriage, after which she dropped off the radar of our consciousness; later faint echoes of discord and tragedy floated down from Chennai. Now, almost 25 years later, Rohini has re-surfaced, clad in a multi-hued robe of talent –of a lyricist, script writer, dubbing artist, actor, producer, documentary maker etc.
Drawn from filmy stock, Rohini didn’t have much of a say in her career choice, since it was taken for granted that she would follow in her ‘family footsteps’. She heard the ‘lights, camera, action’ command- that was to become a constant refrain in her life- for the first time as a wide-eyed 5 year old in Yashoda Krishna, a Telugu film. In her teens, Rohini appeared as a junior artist and did a few bit roles before vaulting on to the heroine’s rung. Meaty roles in movies such as Oru Painkili Katha, Arante Mulla Kochu Mulla, Oru Kudakhizhil, Ivide Thudagannu etc followed in crowded succession where her petite frame and teeny bopper image were exactly what the audience wanted at that time. She co-starred with Rehman in Parannu,Parannu, Parannu, Evide Eee Theerathu,Koodanayum Kattu, Ee Lokam Evide Kure Manushyar and so on, to become one of the hottest romantic pairs of the eighties.
Her professional chart that had been going steady from 1984, shows a break in 1996 marking her marriage to classy villain and character actor, Raghuvaran. Since her husband didn’t want her to work, she laid aside her career plans and gave herself wholly over to household cares and maternal joys. But the alliance was short-lived and unraveled into a divorce 7-8 years later.
Rohini took up the broken threads of her life and tried to knit it into a whole again. As though her personal anguish and tragedy acted as a catalyst, the talent that had been lying dormant for some time came to the fore in full force. It voiced itself first in dubbing. Naturally gifted with flawless diction, clear pronunciation and perfect tonal control, ‘voice acting’ gave a new dimension to her creativity. Rohini found the art of modulating her voice to suit the expression, character and personality of another person challenging. Like a true artiste she rose to the trial satisfying even tough taskmasters such as Mani Ratnam. She almost cracked her throat screaming 25 times to get the right pitch for the climatic scene of Raavan. Rohini became the first choice of top notch directors, Mani Ratnam, Gautam Menon, Shankar etc giving aural depth to characters essayed by Jyothika in Vettayadu Vilayadu, Manisha Koirala in Bombay , Aishwarya Rai in Iruvar and Raavan to name a few. Dubbing was the first step in her second coming.
Acting beckoned again and it was back to the silver screen once more, this time in well scripted mother roles. Renjith cast her in the Mohanlal starer Rock n Roll; she put in an appearance in Thalappavu; was seen in the Prithviraj film Calender. Deeply interested in Tamil theatre, she has given over a dozen performances on stage; has penned the lyrics of film songs that turned out to be hits; written the script of TV serials; has taken a 50 minute documentary on child labour.
Rohini’s next port of call is direction. She had been harbouring directorial ambitions for the past one decade. Now at long last, the screenplay is ready. The casting is complete. And it is her turn to call ‘lights, camera, action’. As Rohini takes up the megaphone, one more stripe of colour will be added to her coat of many hues, a coat which seems to be getting brighter by the day.