Mumbai: Shraddha Srinath’s journey in showbiz has been nothing short of a dream till now. Despite coming from a non-film background and leaving her corporate job, the actress has definitely made a mark in just two years. From bagging awards for ‘U Turn’, to working with acclaimed directors like Mani Ratnam and big films like ‘Vikram Vedha’, Shraddha has come a long way.
In an exclusive interview with Deccan Chronicle, Shraddha speaks about her fairytale journey, Telugu debut, and most importantly, her upcoming Tamil release ‘Richie’ opposite Nivin Pauly. Excerpts:
Tell us something about ‘Richie’? How you came on board the film and what prompted you to say yes to the script?
‘Richie’ was my first Tamil audition and first Tamil film. I was auditioned when none of my films had released. It was a pretty bad audition; it was apparent that I don’t speak Tamil, and that I wasn't comfortable with the language. During the audition, I gave 10-20 takes, but each time I was like, ‘What is it about this that I cannot crack?’ I kept going and tried to nail it. The director Gautham Ramachandran said he will get back to me. For two months, there was no news from him.
After finding out that he was still in search for a heroine, two months later, he said 'I’m going to audition you again.' He gave me the scenes in advance as opposed to the previous time when I was given scenes on the spot. So this time, I was really prepared. I was like, ‘You don’t often get second chances.’ This time I sort of knew that it was a really good audition, and I was confident that I’ll probably get it. Soon after, I was called and he said that I am a part of the project. Because this was my first film, it was not like I heard the script, 'I want to do it' or 'I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it.' I was new and Gautham selected me rather than I selecting the script. But then, I already knew that the script was fantastic, and then there was a new team and there was Nivin Pauly, who’s so huge. To be cast opposite him in your very first film is a really big deal.
You play a journalist in the film. How did you prepare or research for the role?
I feel if I’m playing an athlete, I know I have to prepare. I need to get that body language right, I need to walk like an athlete, look like an athlete. If I’m playing a musician, I need to know how to play an instrument. For me, these are the characters that I know I need to prepare for it, like physically. Not saying that playing a journalist does not require any preparation. For me, playing this character was more about playing Megha rather than playing the journalist. There could be zillion references to play a journalist, but there are zero references as to how you can play Megha, she’s unique.
She was born to parents who had a bad marriage, that affected her childhood. She is quiet; she’s very passionate about her work. She is someone who would fight at her job with her boss, doesn’t matter who she is fighting with, if she decided to do something, she will make sure that it’s done. Nothing else comes in her way. The film is all about Megha and how she decides to write a story and why she writes the story. She takes a little trip to Manapad, town close to coastal Tamil Nadu, as she is researching, interviewing people. She faces a battle every time because the story is only getting more and more convoluted and complicated and gets her more curious, which makes her resolve to get to the bottom of the story. No one really understands why she is so hell-bent on writing the story, as for the editor, it’s a very small bit and doesn’t need so much effort. She meets interesting characters and a lot is happening. The whole narrative is through her point of view and her voiceovers.
In the trailer, we don’t see you sharing screen space with Nivin. Do you have scenes with him, and how was the experience of working with him?
I have very few scenes with Nivin, contrary to popular belief that being the heroine, you need to have many scenes with the hero, you need to have a song-and-dance routine, you need to have a romantic angle. Well, that’s not there in the film. Conventionally, I’m not even saying that I’m the heroine of the film. Because I have limited scenes with him, I don’t remember spending a lot of time with him on set.
Few times we did spend time with each other, we were still new, and when that happens, interactions are limited unless you hit it off immediately. But then we would meet at award functions, during promotions recently, where you spend so much time together; I feel I’ve spent more time with him recently than during the shooting of the film. He is really incredible, very sensible and a smart guy, passionate about his craft. The whole country loves him, not just the South. And he is so humble.
It’s just been three years for you in the industry and you’ve already featured in nine films. You’ve worked with acclaimed directors like Mani Ratnam and in big films like ‘Vikram Vedha’? How would you describe your journey?
Actually it’s been just two years as 2015 was my debut. I know it wasn’t like a meteoric rise, it was not overnight success. Nobody watched my movie, fell in love and said ‘I’m her biggest fan.’ People took time to warm up to me. But I’ve been just very honest with my choices. I’ve done things I believe in; I’ve taken chances also, more often than not, they did work. For films like ‘Vikram Vedha’, I feel truly blessed to be given than chance to be a part of the film.
It feels nice, sometimes it feels scary also; you wonder what’s next. And then you have expectations, you feel after this one, a bigger film will come; more interesting characters will come. Sometimes the big films do come, and sometimes they don’t. The industry is kind of unstable. One second you’re here, one second, you’re not. So you’ve got to be really practical being a part of this industry. But I definitely feel proud, for someone who has absolutely zero connections with the film industry. I personally believe that I’m a very unconventional heroine. And for me to be cast in some very nice films and whatever little name I have made for myself, I feel proud of myself.
You won awards for ‘U Turn. So what is more important to you, awards and critical acclaim or box office success?
For ‘U Turn’, it was all three, critical acclaim was there, box office and there were awards. For me, what’s most important is critical acclaim and box office success. I believe that a good film will be watched by a lot of people and make money. It’s just about the packaging and marketing that goes into selling the film to the right people. I think critical acclaim and box office go hand in hand.
You’ve worked in most of the South languages, except Telugu. Any plans to do a Tollywood film?
Yes, I am, in fact, acting in two Telugu films right now and it should be releasing in 2018. One is very urban, not like the Telugu films that I have seen. We always associate Telugu films with mass, glamour and big budget, but this is a very simple love story of a man who is indecisive in love. It's very smartly written, very urban humour; it has got some pop culture references, very interesting, made mainly for the youth, they are the ones who’ll appreciate it the most. The other one is slightly more commercial in the sense, it has got that drama, it has comedy, songs, so my Telugu debut will happen this year.
Can you reveal who you are cast opposite or you want to keep it under wraps?
Not at all. One film is with an actor called Sidharth, he’s a newcomer. The director of this film is Ravikanth Perepu, who made ‘Kshanam’ last year. He is excellent, a young filmmaker, so it was a good experience working with a young team. The other film is with Aadi, who is the son of Mr Sai Kumar, also an actor.
How about Bollywood? How would you react if Bollywood offers come?
If work comes to me, I definitely have plans. I’m not going to go around and chase projects. But I’m really happy with the work I’m getting here. Of course, Bollywood is on another level, larger scale, more people watch the films, more money involved. But I’m really comfortable here, and am making the best out of the work here. If it’s a good film, if there are good names involved, I’d be more than happy to be a part of it.
Why should audiences go and watch ‘Richie’? What’s the USP of the film?
I feel it’s not a run-of-the-mill film. It has an interesting storytelling. It’s not a film for lazy people, I’ll be honest. If you go in, you can’t leave your brains outside. You’ll constantly be posed with questions. You will wonder, 'what is that? Why is she talking like this? Wasn’t he supposed to be there?' Questions like these. It’s a very never-seen-before style of storytelling, style of filmmaking, it’s going to be a very nice experience, a nice visual treat....