Keerthy Suresh on Miss India, and whether the spate of women-led films has changed her approach to acting
Keerthy Suresh talks about signing several women-led films post Mahanati, and whether she is considering venturing into the web series format after two consecutive film releases on streaming platforms.
Keerthy Suresh was one of the first actors from the Indian film industry to have a direct OTT release through her last Tamil thriller Penguin, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video India back in June. Now, she is back with her next direct-to-digital release in Miss India, which premiered on Netflix India on Wednesday. The film is directed by debutant Nagendra Nath, and showcases the rise of a woman entrepreneur fighting all odds.
Firstpost caught up with the actress prior to the release, speaking about the journey of shooting the film, working with a strong support cast, and the overall process.
Interestingly, Miss India was the first film that Keerthy had signed after winning the National Award for her tour-de-force performance in Mahanati, the biopic yesteryear legend Savitri. Asked about the setting of the film, Suresh says, "The film is about a middle-class girl who makes her way to the USA, and succeeds as an entrepreneur. Her character has a thing for the Indian chai, which she inherits following her close relationship with her grandpa. Miss India tells us the tale of how a woman makes people go crazy about tea in the USA, which is more of a coffee-dominated country.”
Keerthy says this was the factor that pulled her towards the film, and differentiated it from the other women-centric films she has seen and done.
“When people first saw the teaser of the film, they thought that it would be about a beauty pageant. But the thin line about the coffee-tea war is what actually attracted me to do the film.
The USA is all about coffee, but this factor brings in a unique viewpoint about it. There’s also a lovely relationship that I have with my onscreen grandfather, played by Rajendra Prasad," says Suresh.
Miss India features many well-known names such as Nadhiya, Naveen Chandra, and Prasad but Suresh largely cherishes her memories of working with popular actor Jagapathi Babu, who plays the antagonist in the film. "He is senior to me, but we still chit-chatted a lot. He is an amazing person, and is great fun to work with. In fact, I have a lot of scenes where I have to talk against him, and it does take some guts to do that," says Suresh.
The beginning of Suresh’s career had her predominantly playing the female lead opposite star heroes, but the big jump with Mahanati has landed her many female-led subjects. “After Mahanati, I wanted to do more commercial films. But these scripts came my way, and I couldn’t say no. I felt it was a good time to explore this space,” says the actress, who also has Nagesh Kukunoor’s Good Luck Sakhi up her sleeve.
With two successive releases on OTT platforms, one does tend to ask Suresh whether she has the idea of stepping into the longer format of a web series, to which she replies, “I don’t know much about web series as I haven’t seen many. But yes, I would like to explore, and see what it holds if given a chance.”
Women-led films require the actor to take full control of the situation, and steer the story forward single-handedly for most parts. Suresh is affirmative of the fact, saying, "Yes, women-centric stories do take more effort, as we need to carry the film on our shoulders. I am a perfectionist, and I have to look at how I can execute my job perfectly. The journey has been difficult, but I now know what to do, and how to go about it on the whole.” When asked about whether this change in the tide towards doing such films has changed her approach to script selection, the actress responds, “It is the process that we learn to deal better with. At the end of the day, I read a script, and if I like it, I do it. It is the gut feeling that ultimately matters."
With Miss India released worldwide and Good Luck Sakhi expected to come in next, the actress has a busy slate set up for 2021, with films such as the Malayalam biggie Marakkar, Rajinikanth’s Annaathe, helmed by director Siva, and another Tamil film Saani Kaayudham, where she will share the screen space with ace filmmaker Selvaraghavan. She has also signed the dotted line for Mahesh Babu’s next biggie in Sarkaru Vaari Paata, which will start rolling in the first half of 2021.
Miss India is streaming on Netflix India.
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