Shriya Saran has been blinking on and off on the Telugu silver screen. Starting her film career with the movie ‘Ishtam’ some 20 years ago to now, she says she couldn’t be more thankful to audiences in this part of the region.
“I remember the shooting for the song ‘Nuvvante Ishtamani Neekuda Thelusu kada’ — from there to the stage where I am now, it couldn’t have been possible without the love and the support of Telugu people. It’s still a humble feeling, as I come from a simple family. My dad was an engineer in BHEL and mother a chemistry teacher… I have had a very beautiful upbringing. I’ve failed many times, films haven’t done well; but I’ve also succeeded many times. Because of a good story and a good director, I am here. I feel I am still that girl next door, and I can work 20 more years,” shares Shriya.
She is playing a speech-impaired character in the upcoming film ‘Gamanam’, which is being helmed by filmmaker Sujana Rao. The actor says success isn’t about achieving a goal, it’s about being part of a good cinema. A glance at her filmy journey shows more memorable hits than a few misses. “There was a time when I felt anxious. When I did ‘Manam’, I went back to revisit my filmography, and the films that I did with stars like Chiranjeevi sir, and the list was endless. There was a point when I thought ‘why am I getting anxious?’. I realised that I’ve to give up my anxiety. You don’t have to worry about how it is going to happen,” she says about her career.
About ‘Gamanam’, Shriya shares “the film has a message that meant something to me”. “It has emotions that mean something to me. It is a journey that really moved me, brought me to tears. I felt an intense desire to be part of this film when Sujana narrated the story to me,” she adds.
Love for cinema
Recalling an incident from the sets of ‘Manam’, Shriya says, “I still remember the day when legendary actor late Akkineni Nageswara Rao garu fell ill. He was really unwell, Nagarjuna sir was panicking and uncomfortable seeing him go through so much pain. The words he said really touched me, ‘If I were to die, I would rather die doing this’. That’s how I define my love for cinema.”
Female crew is good
Shriya had a happy time working with the lady director and other women on the sets. The actor recalls how the landscape of Telugu cinema has been changing from the time she happened to shoot with just a single woman technician on the sets.
“Now, most of the camera department comprises women, costume department has women. Even if you had a menstrual health problem, it was hard to share with a director. Today, the number of women on the sets has made female actors more secure. I am from the ‘Doordarshan generation’. I feel this is a revolutionary time to be part of cinema. Whatever we do now is going to be a path-breaking. I feel it’s a woman-oriented film when you have more women behind the camera than in front. Actor Suhasini garu once said, ‘You don’t take an aircraft saying it’s female-oriented if there are women pilots driving it’,” she laughs.
About ‘Gamanam’ role
The ‘Neeku Nenu Naaku Nuvvu’ actor opened up as to how she could relate to her character in the film when she was going through distress. “When I conceived amid the pandemic in Barcelona, my husband and I went through a tough time. Throughout the time, I feared contracting Covid, and we couldn’t risk it. And just when I was going to the operation theatre, I had this feeling that ‘I can do it’. And I did it; it was magical.”
Throwing more light on her character in the film, she said, “The character of Kamala, even though she is speech-impaired, is really intelligent. As part of the research for the film, we visited a school for the differently-abled. I wanted to bring out that anger and strength and other elements in the character. This is just one aspect of the film. It is more about a woman who is helpless but she takes a journey of magical power. Miracle happens in her life; it happens in everyone’s life. We are very strong inside. We need that one incident to make us realise how strong we are really. She finds her strength during the journey. She is someone who waits for help, later decides to help herself facing all odds. On the whole, ‘Gamanam’ is about finding inner strength,” she adds.