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Monday, February 1, 2010

Shriya Saran Interview, HQ photos ~ South Scope

shriya saran interview, high quality photos south scope january 2010

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Conversations with Shriya Saran
Began weeks ago, in snatches mostly and over various occasions, this tête-à-tête was always meant to be long. But intriguing and full of surprises it turned out, as Shriya Saran transformed from actor to girl to child and back! Join the coffee table with Mona Ramavat and see for yourself.

She opens the door of her hotel room with her phone caught precariously between one ear and shoulder. Designer tracks,short gym tee (showing nicely toned abs) bare eet, high pony tail,contorted face. She hangs up promising to call whoever back inshe doesn’t know how much time, but she surely would. She says hello after first apologizing. She can’t invite me in. “The room is pretty messy. Actually, I forgot all about the interview,” she smiles sheepishly. So the first time I chatted with Shriya Saran in person was across a doorframe.

She laughs at my persistence to carry on this way. That mingling with the hurried energy around her creates the effect of a dozen butterflies finding their way. Our Powerpuff girl needs to get dressed and get somewhere in record time. “Haven’t showered yet. But let’s start talking anyway. I’ve got exactly three minutes to tell you about the films I’m doing right now.” It was a rather take it or leave it kind of proposition. But one that came with her promising to do a longer chat sometime later. And Shriya sincerely keeps her promises, I was told; the timing goes just a bit awry, I found later.

She talks incessantly about her current projects and it’s amazing how someone can manage to pack so much in one breath! “My Tamil film, Jaggubhai is coming soon. It’s all about a chance meeting between a father and daughter. The girl doesn’t know
it’s her father. The five days they spend together transforms them both in such beautiful ways. You need to watch the film to believe it. I’ve got no costar as such for this one and I found the idea pretty fascinating. Then I’m doing a Tamil film, Kutty,with Dhanush and Sammir Dattani. You know, this one’s a love
story with familiar feelings like understanding love and the selfrealisation that comes with it, but said in a refreshingly youthful way. It’s one of those college films that everyone would relate to. You’ll see it and say, ‘hey my best friend was like that’ or ‘we also had a couple like that in college.’ I’m sure people will love it.I’m also doing a Malayalam film that I’ll start shooting for soon.Oh, and another film called Chiku Buku with Arya,” she finishes as she’s rushing in, closing the door with an apologetic OMG-but-I’m-so-late-already kinda face.

It’s difficult not to have a great first impression of Shriya. Some say it’s difficult to have an equally great lasting one. She’s known for those unpredictable moods. And don’t know when she might turn snappy. But so far, it’s more than so good. She doesn’t call back for a few days.

At the Southscope Style Awards, Hyderabad, this October, we meet again and briefly this time too, a little while before the show. She’s rushing towards the venue, handling at least four items of luggage, but refuses to slow down or take help. We find a relatively quite place in the middle of the chaos of the last minute rehearsals. We picked up from where we left off the last time, like the days in between never happened.

*Tell us more about your Hollywood production,Cooking with Stella

Cooking with Stella is my jaan! It’s coming soon and I’m sure people will love it. It’s about how westerners look at domestic help in India. I’m playing this very interesting character called Tanu,who is a nanny. How she changes as an individual from the beginning to the end of the film is truly beautiful. It’s one of
my favourite characters so far!

*How was the experience of doing an international film?

It was unique and enriching. The film was written by Deepa Mehta and her brother, Dileep. Working with them was a wonderful experience. In true international style, we would have workshops and discussions before the shoot so you got the sense that, yes you are doing something! Everyday we would wait for work to begin and once it was over, the next day would be essentially the same, yet so different!Something that seldom happens here.

*You’ve done southern cinema, Bollywood and an international film too. So,what now?

What now? I’ve just about gotten started! Still got lots of films to do.Where to from here, if you ask me,I haven’t really decided. I stopped planning things long back. Whenever I did, I fell flat on my face!

*How did acting happen to you?

Not many people believe when I tell them that I never wanted to be an actor.I have always been a performer though,since I trained to dance at a very early age and began dancing even earlier! I learnt Kathak and attended various acting workshops. I was barely out of school and happened to do a few music videos. Directors Raj Kumar and Vikram noticed me in some music video and decided to offer me the lead role for
Ishtam in Telugu, my debut. Since then, I quite took to the camera.

*What challenges came in the way of your becoming an actor and climbing the success

Initially it was all given to me on a platter. So I faced practically no challenges in the beginning of my career. Yes, there were ups and downs later, but I don’t regret anything. For me a new challenge each time is to outperform myself. After Sivaji for instance, I had to see how best I could do better in the next project. I would say,I am my only competition.

*On the home front?
My parents were very happy. Dad however, was a bit reluctant initially, not because he was apprehensive, but because for him I was always his little girl. He just couldn’t believe I had grown enough to do a film as heroine! But once he made up his mind, he was so proud of me like I climbed the Everest or something.

She turns a little impatient at this point, and understandably. It took her forever to figure out her outfit the previous evening and she can’t find her jewellery now. She can’t find the stage choreographer either. She’s to walk the ramp in less
than two hours. She grows solemn from bubbly. The thin film of perspiration just under her nose (despite the air conditioning) is enough to say she’s fighting for control. Nothing is going quite her way for the last couple of days. But when she opens the fashion sequence later in the evening, none of the stress of a harrowed backstage experience so much as shows. She gets into the act in the time it takes to
walk from the green room to the wings…

Cut to the Taj Mount Road hotel, Chennai a couple of weeks later. The photo shoot is meticulously planned and everything seems to be in place.Except, Shriya is suddenly not sure if she wants to go ahead with a bikini kinda mood. A panic situation
ensues. The early afternoon doesn’t feel quite as cheerful as it did moments ago. Nobody is sure about what to do. It takes a terrorist’s negotiator’s skills to convince her. But when she sees the clothes, Shriya decides she’d like to do a real bold shoot after all, just like that. Now she’s cranky, now she’s game. And the result was stunning. “It takes a lot of experience to make such wonderful pictures
in such a short time,” she says beaming. Her personal favourite seems to be the one in the pool. Like she’s using some supernatural siddhi, she lies on the surface of the water, hold your breath, for a good 45 minutes!

She emerges in true water nymph style and almost immediately, starts talking about her scuba diving holiday she came back from some time back.

“You must do it to know what I did! I went scuba diving to Lakshadweep through Laca dive. I saw shipwreck, a hundred different kinds of sea life,the coral was so beautiful and everything else too. Wonder why a teeny little fish should have
scales of twenty different colours? I saw the most awesome colours I’ve ever seen, under the sea.I’m not exaggerating when I say I saw some fifty different shades of green alone. You know, when you are under water and you stop breathing for just
a second, you are filled with all the noises of the ocean which are not chaotic but together create a sense of calm. It’s like learning a new language,learning to walk all over again, oh it’s beautiful.”

*And was enriching for your personality…

For sure. I started scuba diving about four years ago when my friend casually suggested I try it. Glad I did. Now I’m a certified scuba diver. And yes, the
whole experience is very enriching. Every moment is like a new moment I’ve lived. Every second of your life changes you because it affects you. Be it scuba diving, dancing, painting, acting, meditation,everything.

*You’re quite a spiritual person…

Yes I am. I believe in the concept of the soul and also that souls are born in groups. We meet who we meet for a reason. Friends we make as we go along are our friends for deeper reasons than we can understand. And I also believe in the idea of a soul mate. I’m very romantic! But a soul mate could be anybody – your lover, husband, mother, sibling,anybody.

*Do you believe in destiny?

Not a hundred per cent, but enough to know that had it not been for destiny, I would probably have sat here writing articles, while you would have been an actor!

*Ever considered getting a past life regression?

No. While I do believe there’s life after death and karma equations have to be fixed, the idea of knowing who I was in some previous life doesn’t appeal to me too much. I’m too scared! What’s over is over and done with anyway.She seems to be in a conversational mood now and it’s hard not to take advantage of her patience. We
promised surprises, didn’t we?

*What makes you tick?

Hmm, I haven’t consciously thought of it. A lot of things actually. I love my work too much. That makes me tick. How my two and a half year old nephew goes about finding everything intriguing ticks me. He’s going to school from tomorrow,by the way. And he calls me bui (meant to be bua which means, father’s sister) and we play hide and seek and all kinds of silly things. These little things inspire me. I let the child in me surface quite often and feel connected to it. That ticks me too. I’m a slow learner, so I take my time, but it happens.

*If you could turn the clock back, what would you want to change about your life?

Oh I wish I could be ten all over again! The thought itself is so wonderful. But apart from that, I wish some films I did could be erased forever.

*If you were to rate how pretty you think you are, on a scale of 1-10, what would that number be?

I am as pretty as I feel from within at any given time. The happier I am, the prettier I look. I try to remain composed always,but I’m human after all.

*But you are an actor!

So what! I don’t think you need to be pretty to be an actor. It’s destiny and my
hard work that I’m here. Don’t you see so many beautiful women even otherwise? They are not all actors, are they?

*What do you value most about your life, and what you couldn’t care less about?

I value a lot of things but most importantly, I guess the fact that I’m breathing. Yes, we take our existence for granted. Living is by itself such a miracle.I value my family, the people I work with,my work itself. I also value Isha yoga and my Sathguru. I couldn’t care less about people with fake attitudes.

*Do you think you are a complicated person?

Well, I am struggling to understand myself. But I think I’m pretty simple. Not a hundred per cent. But quite a bit.

*Do women get a raw deal in the film industry?

It’s a man’s world after all. Save for actors, which other aspect of filmmaking has an equal ratio of men and women.Even here, how many female actors are paid more than men? Some of my closest female friends are production assistants, but they are just a handful when compared to men. It’s why I really admire Suhasini Mani Ratnam.

*One book that’s always inspired you

Hmmm, let me tell you about the one I’m reading now. It’s called A diving bell and the Butterfly by Jean Dominique Bauby, who is an ex-editor of Elle magazine. He suffered a stroke of some sort and woke up to find himself completely paralysed, save for one eye that would blink. He had the entire book written just with the help of one blinking eye!Read it. You’ll love it. Then of course, I’m inspired enough
by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to believe that I’ll find a Mr Darcy too!One thing you’d definitely like to do in this lifetime Find Mr Darcy, have two kids, travel the world, win a National Award, manage to keep Darcy, take my parents
on a world holiday, do ten great films that I can show my grandkids…

*Are female actors’ careers really more short lived than those of the males?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. What I think is that most movies are made with the heroine
presented as a youngster. So say after 30 or whenever, when an actor decides to
get married the chances of her continuing to feature in the lead role are reduced
considerably. With the exception of somebody like Khushboo. It’s sad that not too
many films these days are made with themes like marriage or motherhood or about
women and not girls. Women like you and me, your mom or mine. Tell me, how many
films like Bridges of Madison County or Mama Mia do we make? In the history of Indian
filmmaking, I would say about 25-30 years ago we had actors like Nutan and Madhu Bala play strong characters in more mature story lines. And their films were great
hits. It wasn’t just offbeat films they did for a niche audience. Guess it will take as much time for us to turn to such characterisation for women again.

*So after you get married, do you see your acting career slowing down?

I don’t know. In any case, I’ll always have my dance and theatre. Guess I might just
foray into editing or photography. Who knows, they might start making films with
more mature women characters soon enough. Let’s hope…

*Something about your childhood that you miss the most…

My childhood was a rather simple one and I miss every moment of those days. I grew
up in a place close to Haridwar, at the foot of the Shivalik ranges. It used to be cold for long seasons and we would cycle to school or anywhere we had to go. That was
loads of fun. When it would be very cold and we needed an extra cup of coffee and
mom wouldn’t give it, we would cycle to a friend’s place. The best way to extract a
cup of hot coffee from the friend’s mom would be to have a good conversation with
her. Tell her how sweet she is etc. And that’s how you earned your cup of coffee.
Chocolates were a luxury too. We didn’t get chocolates anytime we pleased. We had
to do something really good or really bad to be given a chocolate! Then in the winters, we used to go up to the terrace and munch on jaggery and peanuts. Any kid who grew up in or around a hill station would have done that. Another fascinating thing was climbing the mountains and it was funny how it would rain on one mountain and not on another right in front. Those were simple things I miss so much. I can’t tell you how much.

*Tell us one incident about back then that you’ll always remember

My mother is a trained Kathak dancer too and she was a school teacher then. She would choreograph and sometimes perform at functions in the school. I would see
her and pick up steps. I think I began dancing as soon as I learnt to walk. My mother
and I once went to Jaipur and there we visited the Birla Temple. It’s quite big and
beautifully constructed. It has an almost ethereal charm. When she was busy with the
darshan, I slipped away from her side. She kept looking for me frantically everywhere.After a while and much searching, she saw a group of people and heard bhajans. She found me in their midst and dancing to the bhajans! I was lost to their rhythm and they were to mine. More people gathered around us just to see me dance! I was all of five then. I loved the attention and the fact that I was performing for an audience. For the following cultural programme in my mother’s school for the following year, she decided that I would dance.

*What was the movie watching experience all about when you were a kid?

We didn’t have any multiplexes back home. It was an open air theatre that we would
go to with our little picnic and loads of food. And we would collect money for a

*At that time, did you ever imagine that one day you’ll be an actor?

Never! Not even in my wildest imagination. I’m told kids there pooled in their money
to watch one of my films, recently.

*And here’s the last one. One dream that’s still unfulfilled.

Hazaron khwaishein aisi ki har khwaish pe dam nikle… (I’ve got thousands such desires.Each one is worth dying for)

shriya saran south scope magazine


shriya saran photo shoot for south scope calendar 2010

Shriya Saran South Scope Calendar Jan 2010

Shriya Saran Launching South Scope Calendar Jan 2010 ~ Video & Gallery

shriya saran sizzles on south scope jan 2010 cover page scan

vikram shriya in kanthaswamy/mallanna @ south scope oct 2009


Anonymous said...

thanks a lot!!!

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