Be it any role she shoulders, there is an intensity in Shraddha Srinath’s performance. Though she began her film journey with Malayalam film ‘Kohinoor’, it was the much-acclaimed Kannada film ‘U-turn’ that catapulted her into the spotlight. Soon, Srinath moved out of home turf to explore other languages — Tamil, Hindi and Telugu — and clearly left a mark in those industries. Her characters are not easily forgotten, including the cameo in Maniratnam’s ‘Kaatru Veliyidai.’
An army child, Srinath grew up in North India. A lawyer by profession, she quit courtroom drama for reel drama, driven by her passion that is rooted in her theatre work of five years.
In an exclusive interview with tabloid!, Srinath spoke about the challenges of taking on Taapsee Pannu’s role from ‘Pink’ in ‘Nerkonda Parvaai’, its Tamil remake.
What were your initial thoughts when you received the script?
I wondered ‘My God how did Taapsee do this? There were many scenes from the screenplay that terrified me-the portions where Meera is abducted in the car, then thrown out of the car and the courtroom scenes. Initially I was quite nervous about playing Meera, as such performances expose you and your vulnerability. You have to give it your all.
Did you watch ‘Pink’ or any other movie as a reference?
No, I did not watch ‘Pink’ though had seen rushes of it once. Nor did I watch any other film. My homework was to read my script like my Bible. When I got this I was doing Telugu film, ‘Jersey’. Every night I read it because the script carries every piece of information on the character. It’s in her lines and her reactions. Reading the script well and getting comfortable with lines in Tamil which is not my mother-tongue required immense preparation.
How did you prepare?
Meera was everything a woman should be in today’s time and a lot of things that I am not. She is bold and brave. She is not afraid to fight nor speak out. She is not afraid to go to the police. She knows when something is too much. She is aware of her rights. For me it was putting on this brave person and you see it in her gait and body language. There was some amount of consistency in doing that and I was constantly thinking of that.
Post the trauma, as a woman, it was channelising all the bad experiences — the sleazy looks, the embraces I experienced, the bad touches that brought anger in me but I was not able to do anything then and knowing that I did not react the right way then. It was channelising all the anger within me for those uncomfortable situations. Meera is a product of all that.
Meera goes through several emotions that reveal her vulnerability. Which scenes were difficult?
The abduction scene for one; another was when the three girls breakdown emotionally in the apartment and then in the court, too. The first few takes are the best, because you are fresh and you are giving it your all. As you keep expending your energy, the graph dips. The director knows that and he made sure that we were not exhausted with too many takes.
Were you nervous sharing screen space with Ajith?
I was not nervous but excited. We were informed the previous day that Ajith sir will be on sets the next morning. So I was preparing mentally for the reality of shooting with the Man himself. When I met him I felt like a schoolgirl who is facing her inspiration. From a fan girl I became a bigger fan girl, because he did not give off those starry vibes. He was a great host and casually chatted with me on my family and career. It was not just with me but with everyone there.
Did he give you tips on acting?
I am more than glad to take tips from experienced actors. But he never did that. Nor did he make me feel that I was three years old in the industry and that he is a star. It was a feeling of equality on the sets. We would rehearse our lines and cues. For someone who is a commercial superstar to have taken a role like this shows he is ready to take risks and not complacent about his superstardom but likes to reinvent himself. He told me, ‘It was more about unlearning what I have learnt and trying to rediscover the performer in me.’ He was trying something new in a role like this, where sex, virgin and premarital sex are thrown around relevantly to an audience that is not used to talking about such things. I admire him. He is a simple man with simple wants and he cherishes his family time.
Do you think ‘Pink’ and ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’ will help embolden women?
Yes, this [film] will make more women aware of their rights. Unfortunately, one may be aware of the rights but so long as the other person continues to violate her rights because he is not aware of what is ok and unacceptable. Besides women, men will start to realise that I am not entitled to this and can’t take women for granted. There is more to a relationship than being in one-there is a right to space and privacy.
I have a Kannada film, ‘Godhra’, directed by KS Nandeesh. It has nothing to do with the Godhra riots, but is a political drama, an interesting story.
ANDREA TARIANG REPEATS HER ROLE FROM ‘PINK’
Singer-songwriter Andrea Tariang from Shillong (Meghalaya) has her own band, ‘Andrea Tariang Band.’ The group has a single song released on You Tube, called ‘You’. Tariang made her acting debut with the critically acclaimed Hindi film, ‘Pink.’ In ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’, she plays the same character from the original. Here are edited excerpts from an interview with Tariang:
Once again you play the same character from ‘Pink.’ Was it easy going through the same emotions?
Yes, I do play the same character. I think going through those emotions in general is quite common for any woman because it’s what women go through on a daily basis. The new language, Tamil needed a little getting used to initially but once I got into the flow it became slightly easier. Besides, I had every one helping me out.
How was it working in the Tamil industry?
Vinoth [director] sir was great! Although, he is a man of very few words it was easy working with him and very comfortable.
What about your co-stars Shraddha and Abhirami?
The three of us bonded pretty well. We became friends from the very first time we met. Doing scenes together was fun.
What drove you to cinema?
To be honest, I never thought I’d get into cinema. I’ve never done any theatre nor taken acting lessons. I have done some modelling, an ad or two but that’s about it. ‘Pink’ happened through auditions, after producer Ronnie Lahiri called and said that they were looking for a North-eastern girl for a film. Now that I’ve experienced acting, I absolutely love it!
Post ‘Pink,’ did you get any offers?
I did, but unfortunately I had moved back home so it was a little difficult to do things from there. Now I am working on releasing some music soon.
Don’t miss it!
‘Nerkonda Paarvai’, produced by Boney Kapoor, releases in the UAE on August 8. While Ajith reprises the role played by Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Pink’, Shraddha Srinath steps into Taapsee Pannu’s role. The supporting cast includes Abhirami Venkatachalam, Andrea Tariang, Vidya Balan, Arjun Chidambaram, director Adhik Ravichandran, Sujith Shankar, Ashwin Rao and Jeyaprakash. Music is scored by Yuvan Shankar Raja. Nirav Shah is the cinematographer.