Hailing from a psychology background, Regina Cassandra dedicated to try hands at acting at the mere age of 16. Today, at the age of 29, the actress is still going good, with a number of Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films to her credit and promising big budget projects in the future. The actress, who is gearing up to play Soorpanagai in one of her upcoming projects, is pretty optimistic during Covid times as well. In a candid conversation, she shares how the pandemic is going to affect the showbiz industry, her life changing experiences in the career spanning for over 10 years and how she is off-camera. Regina Cassandra, for whom 2020 would have been a game changer, shares her survival story By Poornima Bajwa Sharma
Among all the sectors, the entertainment industry has had its share of loses owing to the pandemic coronavirus that the entire world is grappling with currently. While the big production houses have faced a hit since the work on movies has been delayed, at individual levels too, the actors are bearing the brunt. One such actor, for whom 2020 could have been a game changer, is Regena Cassandra, who started working in films when she was 16, and has been in the showbiz for over a decade now. The lady had some big projects lined up for this year. However, the COVID spread took a toll, with the actress now being optimistic that the coming times will be better and the pandemic will teach the industry to work in a better way.
“It is going to be different, but it’s going to be nice. May be the budgets of films will change now, may be the outlook of actors now, but, I think it’s actually going to be really good for the entertainment industry in a way.”
Regina adds, “If you’re going to be in sanitized locations, you know what this is going to make production houses or even the production managers stay on their toes. Because, sometimes shoot dates get extended or something happens, but we don’t think that is going to be any more levy for people to say, oh, we’ll take two days before just for this testing, we’re going to have to make sure what we’re shooting that day.”
Regina is a known name in the Tamil and Telugu cinema and is soon to make a mark on a National OTT platform as well.
Regina’s long journey has been full of ups and downs, challenges, good and bad experiences and lots of memories. The actress shares how her initial days were, when she was completely unaware and naïve, when she entered the industry. A psychology student, Regina shares that initially she was elated with the fact that she was getting work. She shares how she got film offers without struggling much.
Later, she recalls, that things changed when people started questioning why she was not doing films with bigger stars. “A lot of people would tell me oh my God, you are going to do so well or you have everything, you look good, you dance well, you act well, this and that. I was like oh wow. And the movies kept coming in and then you know like my manager came in, I didn’t have to go search for anyone or anything. Okay, and then and then slowly things start changing. From there it went to, why aren’t you doing movies with the bigger stars like that,” she shares.
As people started infiltrating Regina’s mind and conquered her peace, constantly questioning about the kind of work she was doing, the actress slipped into depressing times and faced anxiety issues.
“I started questioning myself. All this while I knew what I was doing. I was thinking I knew about consequences, but when it hit me, I really didn’t expect. So it came in at a time and I thought I was okay. But it really wasn’t. So it started getting to me. And I think there was a time in 2015 and I thought I thought I thought, I don’t even know today. And because I studied psychology, I could see symptoms of depression. I could see it floating around. And finally, it didn’t worry me. I wasn’t scared of the fact that I probably was slipping into a spiral.”
She adds, “people started asking me why. And that was what was troubling, because I never had an answer to it. And even if it came out of concern, I didn’t know how to answer it. Because that’s literally a rhetorical question to me. Like, there’s no answer that I could give you that you can’t think of. Already. There’s no answer that you haven’t thought of that I can come and either say That’s right, or this is wrong. I’m literally in the same position as everyone else. And who needs to be asked the questions will never be asked. So never bothered me. It still doesn’t bother me about the size of the film, for me, whatever the film is, whether it did well or didn’t do well, people still come to me and tell me that I did a great job, that’s something for me to take home.”
She credits her friends and her strong mind for overcoming the difficult and depressing times. “I was lucky enough to have a few friends around me. And I’m not the kind of person who ever talks about many issues when I’m going through it. I like to go through it, get out of it and then have a conversation about it because I always felt like I could do it myself. And if I had other people’s thoughts infiltrate, then what I’m thinking would probably not you know, not like I always thought What am I thought to be like this because I knew that I would probably do the right thing like I will always do the right thing by myself. I think you need to love yourself enough to know that you will get yourself out of something, you know. It lasted for a few months, and then it just, it just disappeared,” Regina recalls.
Regina shares that her project with filmmaker Selvaraghavan, Nenjam Marapathillai in 2016, turned out to be really helpful to her to come out of depression and make her a happier person. “I became better. In 2016, I was shooting for Nenjam Marapathillai. It was a dark film. Okay, but it was a blessing in disguise for me. I was staying near the location… near the beach…I would go in the mornings, go kayaking, so I would go paddling with the surfer boys, I would go fishing. That was the best thing that could have happened,” the actress recalls.
She further shares how the film also changed the way she thought.
Regina says, “So when I was doing this film, I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to work anymore. I’m not going to be an actor per se. But, again, like you know, it was like a blessing in disguise. There was a Telugu film they wanted me so badly that they came all the way from Hyderabad and narrated the story. And the director only wanted me.”
“I really liked his work. I think he’s very sensible director and he writes really well and all that and it did seem like it was a very interesting one that I thought I should do. And then again, that thought happened and I was like, What made sense? Not really serious about not wanting to work anymore. It’s an indicator to myself. No, it wasn’t like, Oh my God, I’m confused. I don’t know what to do anymore, but it was more like, okay, like if you didn’t want to work because of the way we’re feeling. And I want this even if opportunity comes my way, then you know, they take it, but don’t leave it at nothing.”
Considering that Regina had no ‘Bollywood connections’, no big budget release or no ‘camps’, yet the actress has been in the business for over 10 years. She has made her own mark, been a content and a happy person, and is now geared up for some exciting future projects.
So when asked about her secret of survival in this industry with cut-throat competition and pressure, Regina shares, “It is because of people around me and my friends who worked with me.”
Regina hails from a strong-headed family, where her single mother raised her with full compassion and care. No wonder then, the actress is pretty strong mentally and copes with circumstances with ease.
She says, “It starts with an upbringing. My mother’s a very strong woman. She knew what she was doing and she always wants to do right by me. I was brought up by a single mother and she made sure she gave me the best education. She put me in one of the best schools back then (Lady Andal School) and later WCC (Women’s Christian College). She made sure I got what I deserved. And I think, it starts with that.”
“I think at a very young age, I was exposed to a lot of things. Since I was brought up by a single mother she would actually be around when you know the adults were there. From a very young age as something as small as three, four years old, five years old, she very clearly told me that if any man touches you in the wrong way, you know, she explained these things,” Regina further shares.
“I was a very, very, very, very rebellious kid. I was a task for my mom to handle. I was a like a proper tomboy. She set my foundation. I understood what it is to be a girl itself at a very young age, understood what it’s like to handle people around me, my surroundings, you know really well,” she adds.
As stated earlier, 2020 had some of the big movies for Regina, on the block. She will soon be seen playing a villain in M S Anandan’s film Chakra (Vishal Film Factory). “Ever since I started acting and everyone asked me what kind of roles you want you to do. I always said I want to be a versatile actor. Whether it’s playing a heroine, mentally challenged person in a non commercial firm, or whether it’s playing a villain or whether it’s anything I want to do, I want to be able to look apart. In fact in the Telugu film Awe, I shaved off my side part of head. That’s the kind of the role I want to do. So when it comes to being a villain in this film in Vishal’s film Chakra, I’m really grateful. I’m getting to see what I had envisioned to do years ago. It’s finally taking shape,” she shares.
Regina adds, “So I’m sure once it comes out, I’m going to get tonnes of films. Do I want to do it? I’ll do it only if I really, really like. It’s about how prominent my character is. It’s about if I can do justice to the role.”
Since Covid, all big budget movies have changed their path and are now getting released on the OTT platform. Regina too will soon be seen in a bug budget web series, about which she is really excited.
So when quipped, if she preferred the OTT platform or the big screen, she says, “Honestly, as long as my work is seen by more number of people, I think it’s better for an actor at the end of the day, right? I don’t know if it’s, if it’s right for me to say it, but I think OTT will definitely be the answer to piracy. I think, a lot less would be pirated anymore. I feel like it would make a change once left to be seen. I don’t know yet. It’s just my thought. And if that’s going to happen then Hurrah for the industry, right? Not just as an actor, that it’s not about preference at the end of the day for me, because when also there are actors who do also this whole box-office thing is this has been a part of our industry since the inception of films itself, right?”
She adds, “Both mediums are interesting, like, things that you’d want to see, like you’d want to see like work a box-office hit, you want to see the numbers, you know, and you also want to see that this has reached a wider audience and that only an OTT can do.”
Being a psychology student, Regina is sucker of thrillers. She shares, “I love watching thrillers. I love the human mind. I still have my best friends of my life from college. The gang of like 12 of us and there are two psychologists like one is a clinical psychologist, she works with schizophrenia patients. You know what it is so many of them are so diverse that the conversations we had, I think they’re way smarter than me.”
Regina is one of the celebs who has been putting the lock down period to good use. The actress has been making her presence felt constantly with ‘Midnight with Regina’ on Instagram. Talking about it, she shares, “I was thinking what to do, and I have a lot of talents. And not everyone has seen this talent that they have. We’ve musicians, stand up comedians, or actors or artists or whatever they are. If they really do a good job, and I thought maybe I could do something with my friends itself and showcase it to the world because I think we’re a great band. And I did not want to do it normal. My Instagram is buzzing with lives. I did not want to do it at between five and eight. So why not do something at 12 in the night, I don’t want to do it for everyone. I’m only doing it for the people who can’t sleep and have nothing better to do as well. And, and that’s how it started.”
For Regina, Chennai has her heart. Being born and brought up in the city, Regina feels she will always be a Chennai girl as she totally in love with the city’s vibe. “I love Chennai. I was born and brought up in Chennai. It’s very relaxing here. You know, like it’s quiet at the same time. Yet there are still things going on. And Chennai is one of those cities that has not lost its old charm,” she says.
Regina further says,” For example, every time I tell about Hyderabad about five years ago, it was so different. But in Chennai it is same thing. Now if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know. But for me, I think it’s a great thing because I love seeing this old world charm. Chennai is progressing but may be not too fast and that’s okay. And that’s how all Chennai people will progress at our own pace.”