Nandita Swetha on upcoming Telugu film Bluff Master: I play the only innocent character amidst fraudsters
Nandita Swetha opens up on her upcoming Tamil and Telugu projects and defying stereotypes with the roles she chooses to play
Actors have a lot of quirks, right from adding extra letters to their names to following a preparatory rigmarole. In Nandita Swetha’s case, it all begins with the name of the character that she’s offered. A case in point: when Satish Vegesna, director of Srinivasa Kalyanam, offered her a role in the film, he told her that her character was named 'Paddhu', aka Padmavathi. Nandita recalls how her eyes lit up when she heard the name. “There’s something quite positive about the name, don’t you think?” she asks. That she loved the role and the nuances of the character sealed the deal, but it all began with a name. “Till date, a lot of people in Tamil Nadu address me with my onscreen names: Poornima (Attakathi), Kumudha (Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara). Such is the impact on people when they like the sound of a name. They really own you if they like the performance and the film. In fact, I’ve refused a few films because I did not like my character’s name,” Nandita quips.
In 2016, the actress shot to fame in Telugu cinema with Ekkadiki Pothaavu Chinnavada, which opened plenty of doors for her. Despite all the critical acclaim that she earned for her role, the actress chose to wait for almost a year to sign her next film in Telugu. Ask her why she took such a long gap, Nandita says, “Right from the beginning of my career, I decided to wait for the right characters which would challenge me in some way or another. After Ekkadiki Pothaavu Chinnavada, I got plenty of roles which were on similar lines. That film showed me in a different light and people thought I would fit into roles where I’m required to do some stunts and dominate others (laughs). I didn’t want to repeat that again. Finally, when I got an offer to play the lead role in Bluffmaster, I thought it was the right thing to do, and then Srinivasa Kalyanam happened.”
While Bluffmaster, directed by Gopi Ganesh, is the Telugu remake of Sathuranga Vettai, a heist thriller, Srinivasa Kalyanam, which released recently, is a family drama primarily set in a village. The actress is all praise for Satish Vegesna for portraying her in a different light. “At first, all I asked him was how he thought of me as a village-based girl after seeing me in Ekkadiki Pothaavu Chinnavada, and he said, “I’m a director and you are an actress. I can envision you in all sorts of roles.” I liked his approach and conviction. Thanks to the film, I now have a big family. I had a blast shooting with the whole cast, particularly with Jayasudha, Rajendra Prasad, and Naresh. Initially, I was in awe of them so much that I would often forget my lines, but it all turned out to be fine as days progressed,” Nandita says, adding, “And then in Bluffmaster, I’m the only innocent character amidst all the fraudsters. I loved the original version in Tamil, and I’m glad to be part of this remake in Telugu. You’ll see a different side of me on screen.”
Among many other things, she questions the importance that's given to lead female characters who ‘get the guy in the end’. “At times, you can sense this disclaimer, if I may say so, coming when directors narrate a story to you. I have no qualms sharing screen space with others and I don’t think that a protagonist who wins the hero’s heart is more prominent than others. I focus all my attention to what I have in hand and if I can do justice to it. If not this film, I’m sure I’ll walk away with the guy in another film,” she says, without a hint of sarcasm.
What she is clear about, though, is her quest to do meaningful roles and defying stereotypes. In her recent Tamil film, Asuravadham, she played Sasikumar’s wife, and the plot revolves around their young daughter’s life. And one of her upcoming Tamil films, Narmada, has her playing a role with two different shades, including that of a 14-year-old girl, who gets pregnant. Nandita says, “I feel it’s really difficult to portray innocence on screen, and playing a school girl is a huge challenge. But I’m glad that filmmakers trust me that I can pull off such roles and I don’t mind waiting to play characters which are so real. I’m not here to play just glamorous, bubbly roles.”
She has two more films lined up in Telugu, including the sequel to Prema Katha Chitram, a horror-comedy, and another film, Ninnu Vadili Nenu Polenule, directed by Nizar Shafi. Meanwhile, the actress, who began her career in Kannada cinema, is going to make a comeback of sorts in Sandalwood with the sequel to Kirathaka. Directed by Anil, the film has Yash and Nandita playing lead roles, and it’s set against the backdrop of the Mandya region in Karnataka. “It’s been a while since I did a Kannada film as I got busy with my work in Tamil and Telugu films. I found Anil’s script quite interesting. I’ll have to pick up a new lingo to play the role. A long time ago, I earned the nickname 'Jinke Mari' (baby deer) because of a song in one of my Kannada films, and it has kind of stayed with Kannada audiences. That’s one nickname that I can’t stand at all (laughs). I hope people see me in a new light after all these years now,” Nandita Swetha signs off.
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