She doesn't like the expression "item number", but actress Hamsa Nandini, who has grooved to four popular dance songs in southern films in just a few months, says the reach that such numbers give to actors is phenomenal.
She is ready for more dance numbers in films as she is not a "mainstream heroine" and she is happy to do it for the audiences, who want to see more of her on screen.
Hamsa has featured in chartbusters such as "Mirchi" and "Bavagarlu" in the recent past.
"Firstly, I don't think they are item numbers because I don't expose in any of my songs. I don't have a problem doing these songs because I'm not a mainstream heroine yet, and moreover if audience wants to see more of me, I would happily oblige," Hamsa told IANS.
"So many producers call up every day asking me to dance in their films, but I have been very choosy. I have forgone so many opportunities because I seek a purpose even behind these songs," added the performer, who has worked in Telugu and Tamil films.
She admits these songs help in reaching out to the masses.
"It gives you phenomenal reach especially if you're paired opposite big stars. I believe it is a good platform to reach out to the masses. I'm happy doing a five-minute dance number that assures me a lot of attention rather than featuring in 10 scenes in a film with no scope for performance," said Hamsa, who started career as a model.
Currently, one of her item numbers with superstar Nagarjuna is awaiting release. Her dance sequence with Pawan Kalyan is seen in Telugu film "Attarintiki Daaredhi".
"Doing a song with Pawan Kalyan or Nagarjuna is truly a blessing. These are opportunities I would never want to miss. I'm extremely happy that with every song, audiences have only expected more from me. They have created an image of me and I want to live up to it," she added.
"There have been so many actresses who have featured in item numbers over the years, but very few gave repeat performances. I'm glad that audiences have not discarded me and are still expecting something more from me," said Hamsa, who has also featured in a dance number in Junior NTR-starrer's upcoming Telugu action-drama "Ramayya Vasthavayya".
Hamsa says item numbers are not all about glamour.
"It just appears glamorous on screen, but nobody knows how many days of rehearsals we do for the song. I remember for 'Mirchi', I had to dance barefoot in a chilli field under the hot sun. You can imagine how hot that would have been, but I still did it," she added.
She says she is careful before she gives a nod to the directors.
"I also give importance to directors because not all of them can make you look good on screen. Very few directors have an eye for making an actress look sexy yet not dirty in these songs. The reason I agreed to work in 'Ramayya Vasthavayya' is because of Harish Shankar (director)," she said.
"I have seen his work in the past and I was convinced that he will portray me on screen well. Secondly, it wasn't just a song; he offered me a small role too," she added.
Are you not interested in taking up roles?
"I have landed a plum role in the period flick 'Rudhramadevi'. I'm playing a challenging role and I'm giving my best because for the first time viewers will actually get see my performance. This film means a lot to me and it packs a surprise factor," said Hamsa.
"I have been offered a few roles, but as I pointed out already, I don't want to be seen in a few scenes without any purpose. If I get a performance-oriented role, then I'll be more than happy to take it up," she added.
"Rudhramadevi" is being directed by Gunasekhar. It also features Anushka Shetty, Rana Daggubati, Aditi Chengappa, Nathalia Kaur and Baba Sehegal.
(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)