Venkatesh has a multifaceted personality
Breaking stereotypes, Shraddha shares her conscious choice of performance-oriented roles and the importance of continuous reinvention
Shraddha Srinath’s filmography is impressive. The actress has an interesting line-up of movies, including Venkatesh’s 'Saindhav'. Deccan Chronicle caught up with the actress, who was shooting for a film in Hyderabad. Here are excerpts from an exclusive interaction with Shraddha.
Your debut blockbuster was in Kannada and then you moved to Tollywood and Bollywood. Why did the shift happen?
I got interesting work and it's almost like survival in the sense that if you keep waiting for work only in one language, you might end up with a lesser end of the bargain in terms of quality and I could see myself working in Telugu, Tamil. It’s very natural and it's a given that as an actress, you could debut in any language, the boundaries are very blurred that way. You are bound to move around, come back. It's not like you're going anywhere. It’s not that I've left Kannada entirely like I'm still very keen on doing projects here. But, this shift is very natural, so many actors do it. And it also expands your horizons and gets you some interesting work.
You have chosen different kinds of roles—be it 'Vikram Vedha', 'Jersey', 'Nerkonda paarvai', or 'Irugapatru'. Was it a conscious choice to avoid being typecast?
Yes, it was. I did try my hand in stereotypical masala stuff wherein heroines are not expected to do much except look pretty, it did not really work for me personally. I felt like my potential was lost somewhere. Even though that kind of movie surely gives you a far bigger exposure, your movie is probably seen by more people, you're recognised more, you get more followers, more money and all of that. But I realised that my potential was not being explored completely. So yeah, the conscious choice has always been to find performance oriented roles, and to find roles where I look different every time. That also is something I've started doing off late quite consciously, like if someone saw me in a saree with a child in a movie like ‘Jersey’, it's natural for filmmakers, producers or even the audience to think that this is Sarah from Jersey and this is how she looks. So to break that, one has to reinvent. And the best way to do that is to find other roles with different shades or, look completely different, because once you get stereotyped it has a very slippery downhill slope. You're only playing those roles when you have so much more to offer. And if you don't watch this downhill slope at the right time, it won't work.
What parameters do you consider before giving your nod to a movie?
I need to have a lot of faith in the filmmaker. It's very easy for filmmakers to cast me because they've seen my previous work. Whereas, there are some filmmakers who are absolutely new with no experience in helming a proper project. And there are some who are extremely smart and know how to present a project. When I find that impressive I say okay, like I can give my nod to the film as opposed to an absolute new filmmaker who doesn't give me that kind of vibe that I can do this. I need to be able to have all my faith in the filmmaker and the team that he has. So basically I put a lot of emphasis on the kind of people I'm collaborating with. I think people you work with bring out the best in you. I give equal importance to the script and how important my role is. In the past, I have been offered projects where everything was amazing— the director, producer, everything was solid—a very safe bet, but then my character had no growth, it was like there was no value addition by the character and I said no to such projects. A lot depends on how well written the characters are. It's great if you can get to work with bigger heroes. That's amazing and all these are like additional bonuses. But primarily, it's the director, his vision, his crew and the character written for me.
Talking about big heroes, you have worked with some of the biggest stars and your next is with Venkatesh. How was it working with him?
Oh, it was totally unexpected. When you imagine stars, you would expect some kind of diva airs, but truly he is the gentlest soul I have spoken to. He is so humble, so shy. He's also someone who doesn't like to speak much, which I respect. But when spoken to and if you can just hit the right chord, he's like a treasure trove of knowledge. He's so much into spirituality and meditation and with the kind of experience he has and the kind of life he's lived… we can all learn a lot of things. So it was really amazing. Honestly, I can pinpoint a few conversations that I've had with him which for me, were eye opening in terms of spirituality. And perhaps I was at that point going through a bit of a crisis and I needed it and he came in at the right time and told me that.
So, those are the subjects Venkatesh likes to discuss?
Yes. With me he did. We also talked a lot about food because he's such a foodie. But he's not like all spirituality and peace. When Shailesh, my director, tells me about his conversations with him, he is like a little child, in the sense that boy banter which I've never seen. But Venkatesh has a multifaceted personality. I probably know him as a deep and calm person, but maybe he has a fun side too.
From your debut movie to now, you have come a long way. Tell us about your challenges and how you tackled them along your journey
Challenges come with not being armed with preparation. When you are someone who belongs to a regular family with no film connections, there is a lot of learning through mistakes. Like, bad makeup, I am never going to repeat this in the next room, or this costume I should have insisted on. So, every film you do, I still learn. In fact, I make a list of the things that should not have been done to avoid the disappointment. Let’s say, I watch myself in a certain film and I didn't like the way I looked, and I knew I was feeling that this costume won't look good on me. But I stop myself from speaking out thinking people know their job. Everyone should speak out when they feel something's off because there's nothing better than your gut feeling. Because eventually, when you watch it on the screen, you feel disappointed. You can't underestimate the gravity of a film being shown on a big screen and thousands of people watching it. And it's all magnified for them to watch clearly. So, you're getting better with each film. You're learning and improving.
So are there any roles that you really want to play or maybe you watched a movie and really liked to play a character like that?
I always wanted to play a part where I'm looking like, say, a Ponniyin Selvan character, basically like a period drama. It could be like 'Baahubali'. That robes and fine Jewellery, one of those dramas. I'm very confident about myself and I know that if I do a film like that, I will look so good in that kind of styling. The performance required in such films is also very different. It’s just a whole different kind of grammar of performance. Also, I would love to do a well written intelligent comedy, which we don't see very often. I also think that I have very good comic timing. I mean, I know for a fact, because I started acting on stage and I did a lot of comedy starting out. So I know I have good comic timing. If someone could explore that, it would be lovely.
What are your upcoming projects?
There's Saindhav, which is the most immediate release. There's another in Telugu, which is yet to be announced. In Tamil, there's one with Vishnu Vishal, a web series that I have signed, but not announced. So there's a little bit of action happening .
The H Factor—What makes you happy?
It's spending time with my family members. They are the only constants in my life. Everything may come and go, but these people remain. These are people who have seen both my worst and best phases. All the same money is so temporary. When I come back home, I feel very grounded. I just feel like I'm a daughter in a middle class household where there is so much love that makes me happier.