A Tête-à-Tête With Shriya Saran
At the crack of dawn, we find ourselves within the unusually-vacant confines of High Street Phoenix — a place otherwise buzzing with people and their animated chatter — as we prep for a shoot that takes us on a walk through the area till well into the afternoon. The photographer sets his frames at the first location, as the outfits are laid out in the three-door vanity van. And, just as the sun begins to cast its gentle light on terra firma, Shriya Saran emerges from her car, all set to pose and preen for us.
A self-confessed dance enthusiast, her journey to the screen began with pirouetting in front of the camera. Following an audition for the music video Thirakti Kyun Hawa — in which she starred — after a recommendation from her dance teacher in college, Shriya’s career has bloomed under an ascendant star. Having held her own while sharing screen space with Rajinikanth in the Tamil blockbuster Sivaji — The Boss (2007), her career highs include Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children (2012), Pokkiri Raja (2010) in Malayalam and Kanthaswamy (2009) in Tamil, amongst dozens of other movies in various languages. For one of her recent Bollywood outings, Drishyam (2015) — a well-received box-office success — she got accolades for doing full justice to her role opposite Ajay Devgn.
Walking from one eatery to another, exploring the many cuisines made available under the High Street Phoenix roof, the shoot follows a delectable route. In between shots and changes, we indulge in a tête-à-tête with the actor and discover that be it fashion, philanthropy or acting, she displays an undeniable spark when she is talking about anything that she’s truly passionate about. Excerpts from the conversation….
“How women are portrayed in films is a reflection of how we perceive them in the real world. Reel reflects real. In India, women are CEOs, they are members of Parliament. They are doctors and teachers, and are essentially seen in every walk of life. So, in my opinion, women, as portrayed in films, reflect this reality.”
“As an actor, you always want a bigger audience; you desire to reach out to more people. I would want my films to be released on Mars! You want the story to be heard by as many people as possible. So, naturally, I am open to doing movies in different languages.”
“As long as a story resonates with a language, it works. We are a large country, with our currency bearing 17 official languages, but I believe we are one. Mani Ratnam proved that with Roja (1992), and the Baahubali films too are brilliant examples. My film Drishyam was also made in many languages and did well. I’d like to tap into Hollywood too, for the exposure to a larger audience. The South has given me everything I have! I’m looking forward to three films coming this year in three languages — Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.”
“An actor is a slave of the stories offered to him or her. But, I’m now trying to do small films with soulful parts, in different languages, in which I can portray different characters.”
“When it comes to style, Rajinikanth once told me to follow my vibe. I admire Maharani Gayatri Devi for her saris. My all-time favourites being pattu and real gold saris. Each sari takes about two months to weave. The work is intricate and the end result is absolutely magical!”
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