It’s been over a year since her Telugu debut Jersey impressed audiences and her character Sara won their hearts. And now, in mid-2020, actress Shraddha Srinath is back to entertain Telugu audiences as Sathya in the Ravikanth Perepu-directed Krishna and his Leela. The film, which hit Netflix on 25 June, is a multi-starrer with Siddu Jonalagadda playing the male lead and Seerat Kapoor and Shalini Vadnikatti being the other female leads. In conversation with Silverscreen India, a spunky Shraddha on her role, watching herself on an OTT platform and more.
Cheerful about the response to Krishna and his Leela and her role in it, Shraddha says, “The audience’s response plus reviews have been great. This is the first Telugu film to release in two months, so all the Telugu-speaking people are lapping it up. But now, it’s become big on a national scale, so the response is larger than we imagined. This is all thanks to it being an OTT release. The response to my character has been good. The people who liked me in Jersey have liked me in this too and are quite happy.”
Reminiscing how she signed this project, way before her Tollywood debut Jersey, she says, “It was March 2017 and I was in Hyderabad for the IIFA awards where I was nominated for U-Turn. I received a call from the team saying that they had a script to narrate to me. They pitched it to me saying that it would be helmed by the director of Kshanam. I wasn’t too clued into Telugu cinema back then, but I’d seen the trailer of Kshanam and really liked it, so I decided to give it a shot. I knew that Rana (Dagubbati) was producing it and since it wasn’t the typical formula Telugu film with the hero romancing the heroine amidst exotic locales, I picked it. It’s an urban rom-com, relatable to the youth and I thought it would be nice to enter the Telugu industry through this. It’s a movie that calls a spade a spade. It’s bold, romantic and has very good writing. A lot of youngsters can relate to the experiences – it’s a new-age movie with raw love, it’s not love that’s written in poetry.”
The film sees Shraddha play the hero’s first love Sathya, a practical and strong-willed young woman, who wouldn’t let love and relationships get in the way of her aspirations. “Sathya thinks that relationships are not the end of it all and doesn’t mope around too much,” says the actor, who adds that she is a lot like Sathya in real life.
Although she finds Telugu to be a lot like Kannada, which is her mother tongue, she still hasn’t dubbed for herself in either of her Tollywood projects. Considering her film had a straight-to-OTT release, is she disappointed that she won’t be able to watch Sathya on the big screen? “Not at all. I feel like it’s the perfect way to release right now because everyone is glued to the TV, mobile phone or laptop screen. It’s a medium-budget flick with no big names and now that people are looking for new stuff to watch, it’s easy to be successful through an OTT.”
Her other film Chakra, a bilingual with Vishal as the male lead is something that fans would most likely want to see on the big screen because of its mainstream hero. “However, times are changing, so who knows what will happen,” says Shraddha, who also has Maara with Madhavan and an unannounced project in the pipeline in Kollywood.
The multi-lingual actor would like to balance projects with equal measure in each industry but admits that things don’t always work according to plan. While she’s got plenty of work in Tamil, she hasn’t signed anything in Telugu after Jersey. As for her home industry, Sandalwood, Shraddha’s got Godhra, which was a film that she did long ago and Rudraprayag with Rishabh Shetty, which she’s yet to start shooting for.
Having made her debut in a strong female-centered film in U-Turn, will we see her in yet another solid character in Kannada? “I sure hope so. My last film that released in Karnataka with me having a major role was Operation Alamelamma in 2017. After that, I did Rustum where I did not have much to do. So, you can say that my next Kannada film will be my comeback project. I know I started off on a good note which was followed by a lull. So, I’m really looking forward to a good, solid, well-packaged movie in Kannada.”
Does she think that the scripts in Kannada are on par with those from other industries? “The stories that come to me have the potential, but I don’t know if the people making it can pull it off. Since this is my mother tongue, I want people to remember me for other films and not just U-Turn,” she smiles.
Like a lot of people who wanted to use this lockdown to stay motivated, Shraddha divulges that initially she started working out every day and cleaning the house like never before. “I thought I shouldn’t while away my time and 20 years later, I wanted to remember this phase as something that was meaningful. I’d help my Mum cook and think – oh wow, this is how you make saaru (rasam)! I was driven to be perfect, but one day I lost all motivation,” she quips adding, “I stopped cleaning the house. I stopped exercising too, but I’m still not bored, because I play badminton in the evenings and cook my own dinner. I eat before 7 pm, drink four litres of water every day, so I’ve been able to maintain a few things and also enjoy time with my family,” she shares.
As one of the very few actresses in south India, who’s vocal about feminism and the #Metoo movement, Shraddha recently posted a story on Instagram where she narrated how she had to deal with menstruation taboos as a teenager. She went on to add that that incident made her a non-believer and feminist, to which she received a lot of regressive backlash from some followers. How does she deal with such comments? “I’m very tempted to reply, but social media is not a healthy place for debate, so I think for five minutes and then respond. No one on social media is there to see where you’re coming from and it’s not really a positive place. So, when I post something controversial, for the first 12 hours, I don’t read the comments as they may affect or hurt me. And if I accidentally do, I resist the urge to reply. There’s a lot of education that needs to be done and social media isn’t the right place for it, I hope I can do it through my movies or work,” she signs off.