How does it feel to be doing your first lead role in Telugu? Tell us about your experience.
It feels amazing, it’s a mixed bag of tension and excitement. There is pressure as it is the first time that I am doing a full-fledged lead role in a film. All I can say about ‘Butta Bumma’ is that it has drawn inspiration from the Mollywood film ‘Kappela’ and it is expected to hit screens by January 2023. It was an interesting experience as I was clueless about the language initially. Though it seemed hard at first, the direction team really helped me pull through it and it all fell into place eventually.
You have worked with most of the top stars like Mammootty, Mamtha Mohandas, Ajith and Nayanthara to name a few. What’s your biggest learning from them?
They are all at the top of their game and yet they have this constant urge to do more. One would think they would take a backseat after a point but they don’t. They are never willing to settle and that’s such an inspiration for youngsters like me.
You had a head start when it comes to acting since you started so young. But does that also add to the pressure?
Yes, people sometimes do tell me that it is obvious that I am going to become a heroine and that it would come easily as I started early. They mean well and I honestly aspire to become a successful actor but I am also aware that it’s not as easy as it seems. So I take it in my stride and take one day at a time.
How do you handle the pressures of competition and an unpredictable career?
The fact that I have been in the industry for so long feels surreal. I know there are a million people out there who could replace me but I love cinema and acting is my passion. While I strongly believe in healthy competition, I do have a plan B in case things don’t work out.
How has your view on cinema changed over the years?
While growing up, cinema was a means of getting away from school but now, I am paying more attention to what happens behind the camera. I have come to realise that it is easy to judge a film from the audience’s perspective but there is so much effort and planning that goes behind the scenes.
What attracts you to a role?
The script and the character. If I can envision the character and feel drawn to it, that’s the key. The team that I work with is also important to me.
‘Queen’ and ‘Maa’ had very intense roles and were both projects helmed by Gautham Vasudev Menon. How was the experience?
The director and the story line go a long way in making the character feel realistic on screen. I am very dramatic by nature and I love playing roles that have intense emotions, it comes naturally to me. It is an honour to work with directors like Gautham Vasudev Menon. He is extremely comfortable to work with and after working with him in two projects, I know exactly how he directs his actors. ‘Shakthi’ in Queen is one character that I related to the most. It was a joy to perform because I was in sync with his direction.
How do you perceive the transition from the big screen to OTP?
While we were shooting for the Webseries, I never gave it much thought as it was not being made on a large scale as compared to movies. Though it felt awesome working on the project, I did not expect that it would garner so much attention. People still recall the character when they see me and I feel that is the benefit of OTP as it reaches out to a larger audience. I am so happy and proud that I got to play the role and I feel that it is one of my best performances till date.
Being a star also means being under the spot light especially on social media. Does it affect you?
As a first time user, I did feel the constant need to post everything on social media as everyone aims at getting higher followers but now I am past that stage. I don’t open my page as often as before and I don’t go through the comments section. I realised that social media does affect your mental health as people aren’t always very kind. There are positives and negatives, but I feel the best way to stay sane is to stop looking at it. I have curated my handle in such a way that I feel comfortable and secure. I realised that people put only their best moments on social media. I am sure everyone goes through difficult times but they seldom speak about it. When it comes to friends and family, I have a strong support system to back me up. So social media doesn’t bother me beyond a point.
Would you share a memorable moment from the sets of Butta Bomma?
Since I didn’t know the language (Telugu) initially, I was messing up my lines, saying the wrong words or pronouncing it wrong. I had no clue about what I was saying but the direction team was so cool about it. They treated me like a five year old and it was an absolute joy to work with the team.
Tell us about your upcoming movies:
I am playing the lead in a Malayalam film, Oh My Darling and Telugu film Butta Bomma. I also have another Malayalam release lined up called Lovefully Yours Veda.
• I can’t do without : My phone!
• Dream Co-star : Vijay Devarakonda, Tovino Thomas.
• Toughest part of being an actor : Learning Lines!
• Crushing on : Harry Styles.
• Idol : My mom!
• Favourite Movie : 500 Days of Summer.
• Guilty Indulgence : Cheese!
• Motto In life : Don’t judge a book by its cover!