Personifying the new-age actress, Sai Pallavi is as natural as they come. An actor who seems to celebrate imperfections, it’s no wonder the small-town yet adorable characters she takes in films have established a great connection with the audience in the last few years.
Her Tollywood debut Fidaa (2017) was a runaway success. Her subsequent Telugu films, Middle Class Abbayi (2017), Kanam (2018) and Padi Padi Leche Manasu (2018), made her the poster girl of Tollywood. Now, her character Mouni from the recently released Sekhar-Kammula directorial Love Story has become everyone’s dream date of sorts and the actress is clearly on her way to superstardom.
Speaking to audiences through her roles
Especially when there is uncertainty about watching cinema in the theatres or staying home, thanks to the pandemic inertia, Love Story proved that movie lovers are game to step into theatres to watch a film with good content. “I am glad the audience is enjoying the film in the theatres after a long time, and I first want to thank the Telugu audience for coming out in big numbers and supporting the film,” says the actress.
“They’ve set an example across the country. It gives a lot of confidence not only to us but also to films currently in the making.” For Sai Pallavi, Love Story couldn’t have come at a better time and the super success means a lot to her.
“I feel this is a very important film as it talks about two social issues. The way people have been tweeting about the film says a lot about how they see it too,” she says, heaping praises on the film’s director for his handling of sensitive issues.
Sai Pallavi and Naga Chaitanya from Love Story
As for what the success of the movie means to her, the actress first points out that it reinforces her confidence and belief as an actor. “As also with the choices I’ve been making in seeking challenging characters and roles,” adds Sai Pallavi. Mouni, to her, is a very important character in how it’s been portrayed.
“I feel the character echoes with many women out there, which is why it resonated so well. I’m happy I’m Mouni.”
Perfecting her craft
Sai Pallavi is one of the biggest names in the south-Indian film industry today. So how does she handle superstardom? “I am thankful for the way people have made me feel here right from Fidaa,” answers the actress. “But more than stardom, I am gratified for the love that’s been coming to me from the audience. The way they’ve embraced me is overwhelming. I feel blessed,” she says.
“This makes me more responsible, and I’d try to keep entertaining the audience.”
But one prime reason the audience embraces her is for her fluency in Telugu, especially her perfection of the Telangana slang in both Fidaa and now Love Story. By no means is it a walk in the park for someone who is from a non-Telugu speaking state.
“I still need to work on and improve my language skills,” she replies modestly while adding that she’d done a lot of homework, workshops and rehearsals to get her lines right in Love Story. “But when speaking Telugu outside [film sets], I still make mistakes. I am trying to get it right when speaking impromptu, and hopefully I will, soon.”
She may belong to a non-Telugu state, but Sai Pallavi has no qualms in admitting that Hyderabad, a city she’s been frequenting, has become her second home.
“Indeed. The Telugu audiences have been so welcoming, entertaining them through films is indeed a great opportunity for me,” she says.
Then pointing out how Love Story showcases several historic and iconic locations like Purana Pul Bridge, Taramati Baradari, Koti Residency, British Residency, etc., which has a strong cultural connect, she tells us that she’d also like to explore the cultural landscape of the city.
Finding her grace
People speak of Sai Pallavi’s acting skills as much as they rave about her dance moves. Be it her moves in Rowdy baby, the hit number in her 2015-Malayalam–Tamil film Premam, or those in Love Story, she’s been publicly applauded even by industry megastars like Chiranjeevi, Mahesh Babu and Nagarjuna.
“I never had any formal training in dance, but I always loved to groove and participated in several cultural events and reality shows. But it’s very heartening to receive compliments from such big stars.” says the actress, nevertheless reminding us that she suffered cramps and ligament pulls during her rehearsals.
Hers has been an interesting journey. Sai Pallavi, who comes from a traditional and conservative family, rooted in strong middle-class values, graduated in medicine from Georgia a few years ago. Now having cemented her place in the south-Indian film industry, will medicine take a backseat?
For starters, she tells us, she never planned anything in life. “But I’ll stick to the medical profession because I can at least take care of the people around me. I also want to learn more about body and health. However, I do love taking on challenging roles,” she elaborates.
Sai Pallavi has enjoyed the dizzying heights of success even as she has gracefully endured the lows. “I don’t care about success or failure. The integrity with which we approach any character or film is the same. So the effort is 100%. Sometimes, the results won’t be in our favour but the idea is to keep learning and move on,” says the effervescent actress.