Over a decade old in the South Indian film industry, Pranita Subhash has had a flourishing career acting in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam films. Our cover girl for the month of Diwali, the doe-eyed beauty is looking forward to two new film releases soon and to also celebrating the festival of lights with her baby Arna. The actress has a lot going on for herself. She also recently got a degree from The Harvard Kennedy School, Executive Education in Professional & Leadership Development. Pranita is now an alumni of the Harvard community.
- Tell us about your growing up days. Where did you study? Your time spent later at college. What was your dream career in your childhood days?
I was born and brought up in Bangalore, south Bangalore to be specific. The house where I’ve lived and my school has always been in south Bangalore. Back in those days I wanted to be a doctor as my both my parents were doctors, so there was sort of this unsaid pressure to become a doctor. We also have a hospital in south Bangalore so it made sense that I take up medicine.
- When and how did the journey towards being an actor happen? If not an actor what else would you have considered being?
I was in the 11th grade when someone asked me if I wanted to be a part of a jewellery campaign and it was a very big jewellery brand, but that campaign was for light weight jewellery for teenagers. I took it up. I was 16 years old then and loved the idea of idea of dressing up and wearing those cute pieces of jewellery and also got paid for it. I was barely surviving on pocket money so getting extra money was so exciting. Also, suddenly I was on a lot of hoardings in Bangalore. One of them was right opposite at one of the hospitals my mom consults at. And then all the relatives also saw and everyone starting calling and asking about it. We told them that this was just an ad that I did over one of the weekends and that’s all. Eventually movie offers started coming in.
They wanted me to focus on my career and studies, like any other parent. They wanted me to do medical, but I convinced them that I would do just one movie in the summer holidays and then get back to studies. That’s how it started. That movie was Darshan Sir’s remake of the 2006 Telugu film Porki. Post that release they realised how big that movie was, how big the hero was and that I had the opportunity to debut in such a big film. It snowballed into getting offers from other industries and how a whole career just happened. Now they’re really proud and have come to terms with everything. They have seen that there’s so much hard work that goes into making a film. When I was young I wanted to be a doctor. Now maybe I’m considering running a Montessori school apart from acting.
- What are your other passions and hobbies?
I’m in a different phase now since I delivered a baby. This question has a different answer at different phases of life. Now it’s mostly to do with my daughter Arna and the whole world revolves around her and her classes. At the moment I’m really enjoying things like art and pottery, especially on weekday afternoons. The rest of the rigmarole like dance classes and swimming has always been there.
- How challenging was it to carve out a niche for yourself?
Being unique is the only way in the industry. It’s very important to reinvent yourself and be unique. I have tried to be different from myself in each movie and work with different directors who have a good established profile. I have loved to work in different languages and different industries catering to a diverse market. It has all been fun so far and I’ve loved Kannada, Telugu, little but of Tamil and Hindi as well. Now I’m debuting in Malayalam.
- How have the last few years in the industry panned out for you? How did you come to where you are today and what were the challenges initially? How did you overcome them?
My last few years were very different and the experience was wonderful. I did Hungaama 2 with Priyadarshan Sir and the film had a big cast with Shilpa Shetty, Paresh Rawal and others. The other one was Bhuj with Ajay Devgan and other big stars. Bollywood is such an ocean. South is quite different where everyone watches your film and somehow you’re all over even if you’re new. Bollywood is all about red carpets and paparazzis and styling, PR and there’s always so much going on. It felt like the most hectic two years of my life. Even if you’re not shooting it keeps you so busy with so many meetings etc. Where I have landed today I would say it’s my entire career including all the languages I’ve acted in, especially my Telugu film Attarintiki Daredi. That movie in 2013 was a landmark in my career as well as in the industry. It was the highest grosser of all times in the Telugu industry. It was such a huge hit and such a huge surprise for me. I loved working with Pawan Kalyan sir.
- What have been some of the biggest highpoints of your journey so far?
My Telugu film Attarintiki Daredi with Pawan Kalyan sir was a turning point in my career. My debut film Porki with Darshan sir was a great launch pad and also working in Bollywood helped too. Especially where I live in Bangalore which is so cosmopolitan it helps to be able to relate to a larger audience.
- How have things changed for you after becoming a mother? What are some of the most cherished moments with your family?
Life has changed after becoming a mother. Only a mother can understand another mother. A part of me is always worried when my daughter has not eaten or has not slept. Every single day is a fun banter with my daughter and singing rhymes with her. After having such a promising career I had never imagined I would be at home with her on a weekday singing these rhymes with my baby. You tire yourself and are so busy with so many projects and you’re catching a flight one day and the next day you’re shooting and rush to another ad shoot and then a few months later you’re at peace with your daughter and the world stands still. This is something I would have never imagined.
- Were there any kind of apprehensions entering the field of cinema and now that you’ve made a name what do you think went in your favour?
My parents were very apprehensive and accompanied me to every movie set in the beginning. They took note of how it’s such a hard job and how every aspect of film making is so arduous – from the director, producer, actors to spot boys everyone is working so hard. Even to see the daily wagers at work on the sets is impressive. It blew my mind in the beginning. I didn’t know that movie making is so hard. They saw how I would wake up at 4 am and get ready for the shot and how we had to take multiple shots for that one shot and how the whole day goes in shooting a scene that is only about three minutes long. It’s the fact that the opportunity doesn’t come to everyone so easily. I think I’ve been quite lucky and my parents were quite encouraging after seeing all this. They told that they could see how passionate I was about all this and they let me do it happily. I would credit it to a little bit of luck too apart from all the hard work. But there are no short cuts to success.
- What is your vision and dream in this field that you’re in now?
Now my dream is different. Back in the day you had to be the pretty, sweet heroine singing songs and doing all the things a heroine would do. I’m lucky that I got to do all those things when I started out. But now I’m a mom and there’s so much more happening in my life that I’m not really so keen to do the same things any more. I’m lucky that the entire industry and audience has shifted to wanting to watch OTT and very diverse cinema. I’m now interested to be a part of such a cinema that is very different from earlier times. There’s crime, drama and so many other genres and so much scope. Infact there’s so much variety that the idea of that quintessential heroine is fading. There’s so much more to dream of now.
- How different do you feel you are from the others around and what are the changes you want to bring about?
We all think that we are different but I think that it should come from the audience and how they find me different. In terms of wanting to put in hard work I’m always up for it. I will always have that “never say never” attitude and that’s my motto. I’m just at it and that’s why even after a baby I’m back at shoots, as this is what I love doing. I would love to do digital shoots, ads and endorsements. I’m back at acting in a film also. It is nice that I’m trying to balance it all in my life.
- Who are your close friends in the industry?
When you’re working on a movie together for a period of 2-3 months and staying in a different country or a city and you’re stepping out for dinners or breakfast together, and you’re exploring a lot together, you tend to become friends with each other. That’s how it’s been for me. I’ve been like a rolling stone who is just moving from one friend to another, depending on the movies I’m acting in. Yes there are actresses who have become friends and we hang out together at after parties at award nights.
- How do you manage to get a work-life balance?
Work-life balance has gone for a toss right now. Waking up and taking care of my baby is also a job. Recently I performed on stage at SIIMA and being on the stage and the red carpets was such a different feel after a while. I loved coming back to the glam side of it all as I was away from it for two years.
- What are your preferred holiday destinations?
The whole idea of a holiday means a lot now because it’s difficult to pull out time being a mom now. Planning and all the packing around a baby is quite hard, but I’m really looking forward to starting off small in India and then go on an international trip later.
- How do you usually celebrate Diwali? What are your plans for Diwali celebrations this year?
It’s the most special festival for us. Back then it was more of Diwali parties and bursting crackers with my cousins. But this time it will be with my daughter. Last time she was tiny so I couldn’t celebrate much. This year I’m looking forward to the puja with her and bursting crackers, dressing up, sweets and festivities.
- Are you a romantic at heart in real life? What is the most romantic thing anyone has done for you?
I’m a very romantic person at heart but I don’t expect everyone to be the same. I’m not very big on surprises. I go with the flow of life, but there are cute things that my husband has done. I think it’s the small everyday things that show real love and not the grand proposals or set ups. He has always made the small things special.
- What is your fitness routine like?
I used to be a fitness freak earlier but now it limits me in terms of time. The idea of travelling to a gym and spending an hour or two there is like a luxury. I just try to be active around the baby and that keeps me fit. I take her to classes but eventually as she grows a little more I’ll fit in a workout routine back into my schedule.
- What’s your style mantra? Do you follow any skin care regime?
I keep it simple. I also like to go with the trends as well. I like classics and love basic colours. I like to keep my look basic and elegant. Beauty comes from within and has a lot to do with your diet, fitness routine and your genes. I don’t believe in topical applications of creams.
- What are the film and other projects you’re working on currently? Please share all the details about your current projects and also upcoming ones – Thankamani and Ramana Avatara?
I’m looking forward to my Malayalam debut and it’s where I don’t play the quintessential heroine. It’s a very different and unique role with a novel theme. I’m enjoying working on the film with a new team and the style is very raw – the style that Malayalam movies are known for. There’s also another film that was shot a while ago but didn’t get released. That will release now and is a modern day adaptation of Ramayana. I’m looking forward to that. There’s a lot more coming but I’m taking it slow and will slowly start taking up full-fledged roles soon. I have started taking up one or two day assignments for events and ad shoots. I can’t keep doing the same heroine running around trees kind of roles. I want to take up roles that count. In my house everyone loves to watch crime dramas and thrillers in Spanish and Korean. I would like to be a part of those kind of projects where I can challenge myself. Once my daughter starts going to school, I will have more time for my work.
- Your dream role?
A mythological film like Baahubali, RRR or even something like Ponniyin Selvan.
- Your favourite movie? Favourite actor and actress?
Rocky aur Rani.
Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.
- Your pet peeve?
After becoming a mom my patience levels have dropped a bit and specially with my Nanny I tend to get angry when she’s not careful about things.
- Some essentials that are always in your bag?
Phone, wet wipes, sunscreen. If I’m heading for work I carry everything with me – like a changeover, extra pair of slippers etc.
- Yoga or gym?
Currently neither. I have done my yoga and gym phase but now I like to do pilates or a dance workout. Basically anything new and something that’s close to my house.
- Indian food or global cuisine?
- What does social media mean to you?
A beautiful way to connect to the audience. I’ve learnt a lot on it. Hacks for parenting or just anything. It’s a mini station where I keep everyone updated about my life.
- Beaches or hills?
- Veg or non veg?
- Fame or money?
Styling: Arvind Krishna @beingstyl
Photography: Santosh Kumar @theportraitstudio_tps
Video: Siddharth Gupta @thegufta
MUA: Deepa Rachel @makeup_by_deeprachel
Hair: Prathiba @prathi_makeoverartistry
Outfit: Koskii @thekoskii
Jewellery: Sri Krishna Diamonds and Jewellery @srikrishnadiamondsandjewellery
Location: Grand Mercure Bangalore @grandmercurebangalore
- Your dream role?