With a large body of work at such a young age, Vedhika Kumar’s career in the film industry seems very promising. The stunning star has all the reasons to be happy about the way she has been continuing to get performance oriented roles. She’s proved her mettle time and again with movies like The Body, Kanchana 3, Ruler, Home Minister, Gowdru Hotel, Cousins, Sringaravelan, Malai Malai, Kaalai and so many more. She also won the best actress award for her role in Paradesi, besides other big awards. Vedhika opens up in a candid interview on what it takes to be disciplined in the glamour industry.
- Did you always want to become an actress? What was your dream career in your childhood days?
During my growing up years I loved dancing and participating in school dramatics. I enjoyed creative arts and was clear that I wanted to become an actress right from my childhood days.
- Were there any kind of apprehensions entering the field of cinema?
There are apprehensions in every field. As I was clear what I wanted to do, nothing really bothered me. I did some music videos first and then I got my first South Indian film. I didn’t have to do much and I guess I just got lucky.
- How has your experience been working in the South Indian film industry?
The South Indian film industry has been very kind and I’ve had some of the best projects to work on with director Bala who I did Pardesi with. I’ve had an opportunity to work with great National award winning directors like Vasanthabalan Sir who gives us scope to improvise while Bala Sir knows what exactly he wants. And also great actors like Prithviraj, Simbu, Sidharth, Suriya, Balakrishna sir, Prabhudeva sir, Shivrajkumar Sir, Upendra Sir, Ganesh and so many other talented actors. They have all been fantastic costars. The industry has been very kind and welcoming.
- What are the current movie projects you are working in? Who are your male costars and directors you’re working with currently?
I’m currently working on seven film projects. One is a web series for an OTT platform in Telugu. I’ve got a really challenging title role. I’m looking forward to that and currently shooting for it in Hyderabad. I’m also shooting with Prabhudeva Master called Petta Rap. It’s a musical romantic film and I’m his lead costar. It’s in Tamil. Another Tamil film that I’m doing is titled Mahal. It is one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever played. Again I’m doing a Telugu film called Razakar with Bobby Simha as my costar, which is simultaneously being shot with all these other projects. There’s also Jungle in Tamil and Telugu, which we finished shooting and should be out for release soon. There’s also Gana in Kannada with Prajwal Devraj. It is an out and out performance oriented role. Infact all these roles that I’m currently shooting for are all very different from each other and they’re all dream roles. I’m excited to be working on such good projects. There are six projects on floor right now. I have signed the seventh one and will be starting work on it soon.
- How challenging was it initially and how did you overcome the challenges?
I always took every challenge as an opportunity to learn. I learnt Tamil, Telugu and also Malayalam. With each film and every character you play you get better and I always tried to improve and improvise in my work. It’s always been an ongoing learning experience for me.
- What have been some of the biggest highpoints of your journey so far?
I’ve been nominated 13 times for awards and have won 7 of them. I have been fortunate to have worked with some of the biggest directors, great actors, fantastic teams and with Rahman sir in two of my films.
- What does family mean to you?
Family is everything. Love and family are the most important emotion in everyone’s life. They’re all there for me always, no matter what. Togetherness with family is very important.
- What are your other passions and hobbies?
I love dancing. So other than acting, dance has always been a big passion and I want to always learn and improve. I’ve worked with some great masters like Raghava Lawrence, Simbu and now Prabhudeva Sir, who I’m currently shooting with. Look out for some crazy dance numbers soon. I also want to give my voice to all the animals. I want to fight for animal rights and raise my voice against animal agriculture and animal farming which is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. If you watch closely you’ll see how animals are bred and brought to this world so that they can be killed for chicken kebab or tandoori chicken. If there are so many things to eat in the world, why should we put animals on our plate? If tables were turned we will be on our feet begging for mercy. We wouldn’t want to be in their place. Also animal agriculture is one of the global factors affecting our climate and adding to the global crisis. People should stay away from animals and turn vegan. Dairy industry is also cruel, where cows are impregnated forcefully time and again until their bodies break. They’re put through torture and separated from their calves. I don’t support dairy also. I’ve always been a vegetarian and have recently turned vegan. I used to eat eggs, but eggs are also off my plate now because of the atrocious things that are done to the hens. Everyone should turn vegan.
- What is your vision and dream in this field now?
I just want to do quality work and work with people who inspire me and do interesting characters. I want to keep learning and keep growing. Through being in the film industry and having such a huge reach on social media and being able to make a difference I want to use this platform to save animals and work for animal welfare.
- What are the changes you want to bring about in the film industry?
When it comes to stunts, I feel we should have more safety, and more controlled environment, so that actors and even the stuntmen are cared for while executing such stunts. There should be a proper protocol for stunt scenes. Also while using animals in films, proper care should be taken. Infact we should avoid using animals as they’re not meant to be used for our entertainment so we should keep them out of all this.
- What kind of a person are you in your personal space? How do you like to spend your me-time?
I’m a very private person. I love meditation. I’ve started reading a lot more now. I have started indulging in self-help motivational books. Major of my time goes in spending time with my pet Oscar. When I come back from work, I always like to spend time with him.
- How often do you take holidays and travel? What are your preferred holiday destinations?
I try to take holidays every two to three months. I love travelling as it’s a great way to make memories. I would love to explore a lot of new destinations now. I’ve been going a lot to Maldives as it’s great for a quick getaway and it’s so close by. I want to go somewhere new where I haven’t been before and maybe learn something from a new destination.
- When you tie up with a brand, what do you see in whatever you associate yourself with?
I’m very concerned about animal cruelty and use only ethical brands. I make sure that the brands I associate with and endorse, don’t test on animals.
- How do you maintain a work life balance?
I spend a lot of time with my family members, my dog, travelling and meditating. I try to relax when I’m not shooting and prepping for work so that my life gets easier.
- How would you like to describe your fashion statement? What’s your fitness regime?
I like simple and comfortable fashion.
I’m regular at the gym and do weight training. I have a plant based diet with lot of tofu, sprouts, beans, legumes, soy, vegan curd, plant based milk, nuts and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Also, vegetable juices as I’ve turned vegan.
- Any memorable incidents you’d like to share with us during the shoot of some of your films?
Meeting great humble, kind-hearted people like Rajini sir. He was extremely sweet when I met him. He had watched my film Shivalinga which P. Vasu Sir had held a screening for. He spoke in detail about my performance in the film and how he loved my body language as a woman being possessed by a male ghost. It was a memorable incident meeting him. I also loved meeting Shankar Sir. The first time when I introduced myself he told me – Of course I know you and I have watched Paradesi. He was the most kind and is one of my most favourite directors. Also working with Rahman sir and all my other directors will always be memorable.
- Who are your close friends from the industry?
Sangeetha, Devi Sri Prasad and a few others. I don’t socialise much so my friends are mainly from outside the industry.
- What has been one of your favourite roles that you have played so far?
Angamma from Paradesi. I also loved my role in Shivalinga which gave me immense scope for performance. I also loved my role of Vadivambal in Kaaviya Thalaivan and it was probably my most challenging role to date. It was a period character with Rahman Sir’s music and was directed by Vasanthabalan. Also, James and Alice with Prithviraj Sukumaran where I got a performance oriented role. There are tons of other roles. My most favourite roles are yet come. The one I’m doing now which is a web series project for one of the OTT platforms will be something to watch out for. It is something I’ve never done before. I’m also looking forward to Petta Rap with Prabhudeva Sir and another film called Mahal for an insane character that I’m playing. These roles will push me to work harder.
- What are the projects you’re working on currently?
I’m doing a web series in Telugu with a top OTT platform where I play the title role. It’s a crazy character and I’m shooting currently in Hyderabad. Then there’s lot of dance and entertainment with Prabhudeva Sir in Petta Rap. There is Mahal which will take people by surprise and a character like that has not been played in recent times. Then there’s also Razakar and I’m looking completely different in the film. Then there’s Jungle, which is a horror film, an edge of the seat horror thriller. There’s also Gana which is a period film, with a traditional role but with a superb scope for performance in Kannada. There are two more films besides these. So there are about seven films I’m doing this year.
- What is your view about films in the OTT world of today? Also your views on social media and how much time do you spend on it?
OTT gives you the scope to etch your characters and dive deep into the script and go into detailing. The Telugu OTT project that I’m doing is one of the topmost platforms in the world. It will give a lot of scope to my character to be established. It’s my debut in OTT.
I use social media to do good and to save lives. During Covid I used social media to get people oxygen, medicines and to save animal’s lives. A lot of good can come out of social media. There are two sides to it like a coin. But for me it’s beyond being narcissistic and just uploading pictures and getting likes.
- What are your views on love and what do you find romantic
The most romantic thing anyone can ever do for me is to save lives. We underestimate on how we all can save lives. Nothing can be bigger than that. If anyone wants to really touch my heart, they can go and save lives. It’s priceless.
- Was language a problem? How much of the south Indian languages do you know? How did you master the other languages, besides Kannada?
I love learning new languages. When I entered the industry I didn’t know Tamil and Telugu, but gradually I picked up these languages. I started speaking with my assistant and my team members. Now my life has become much easier knowing new languages. I speak Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Kannada obviously. I’m hoping to learn more of Malayalam now.
- The film industry has given you love and affection? What do you have to say about the industry?The industry has believed in me and has always given me so many opportunities. Lot of directors like Bala Sir and Balan sir have trusted me and have helped open lot more doors for me. Even till now, people have been offering me performance oriented roles. There’s nothing greater than that for an actor. Even my current seven projects are all performance oriented. They all have superb scope for performance. I also debuted in Bollywood recently with Emraan Hashmi in The Body and it was a great experience. It also had Rishi Kapoor sir and Sobhita Dhulipala.
- What are your future plans?
I hope to save innocent animal lives, do quality projects and to live and let live. I believe in taking one day at a time.
- Your dream role?
All my current projects are my dream roles.
- Dream director?
Martin Scorsese and Mani Ratnam
- Favourite actor and actress?
Sridevi and Meryl Streep.
- Your pet peeve?
People not washing hands and not maintaining hygiene.
- Some essentials that are always in your bag?
Lip balm, house key, phone, credit cards and spectacles.
- Yoga or gym?
Gym for now and I want to start doing yoga soon.
- Indian food or global cuisine?
Mostly Indian on an everyday basis but global whenever we are dining out and travelling.
- Beaches or hills?
Beaches, but I always want to explore more of mountains and hills.
- Veg or non-veg?
- Fame or money?
- Indian wear or Western wear?
Kurtas with patialas and also pyjamas or sweatpants.
- Straight hair or curls?
- The last good film/web series you watched?
Inventing Anna, Cowspiracy and Game Changers.
- A movie you’d recommend?
Schindler’s List, Life is Beautiful and Shutter Island.
- First thing you notice about a person?
The way they talk and how they communicate. Communication skills are important.
- One thing that makes you feel beautiful?
When I’m kind, especially to animals and people.
- Politics, religion, business, sports or entertainment?
- How would you define love?
It can’t be defined. It is something to be appreciated and true love is mother’s love.
- The top three things you’re looking for in a life partner?
Calm and has a calming effect, intelligent and kind to animals and hopefully vegan.
- What’s your idea of a perfect date?
Earlier it was sundowner but now it’s visiting a dog shelter or doing something for animals who can’t repay you back.
- Your most treasured childhood memory?
Just me dancing in front of the mirror to Madhuri or Sridevi’s songs.