Shraddha Srinath on her Bollywood debut in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies, and working with Nani in Jersey
Shraddha Srinath, who began her career in Kannada cinema with U Turn, is all set to make her debut in Hindi and Telugu cinema this year.
In 2016, when Shraddha Srinath played a journalist in Pawan Kumar’s U Turn, little did she expect that her life was going to change a lot. Having studied Law, Shraddha says that she’s quite realistic about her life and that she didn’t have any plans when it came to shaping her career in films. The critical success of U Turn opened more doors for her in Kannada and Tamil cinema, and she went on to act in films like Vikram Vedha and Operation Alamelamma, apart from playing a cameo in Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Veliyidai. “I have never planned my career. I believe in this idea that if an industry wants me, they’ll come to me. I’ve been hoping to make my debut in Telugu and Hindi and it’s finally happening with Jersey and Milan Talkies respectively. There are some wonderful projects lined up this year and I’m excited about how things are going on in my career,” Shraddha says.
For the past few days, the actress has been busy shooting in Hyderabad for Nerkonda Paarvai, the Tamil remake of Pink, in which she’s reprising Taapsee’s role from the original version. With Tamil superstar Ajith playing the role of a lawyer, the film, directed by H Vinoth, has already become one of the most talked about films of the year. The actress maintains a stoic silence about the film and working with Ajith, although she does confess that it’s her most challenging role yet. “It’s a team one could only aspire to work with. And this is a film and a story that everyone needs to watch. It’s the need of the hour and it’s crucial that it reaches the masses,” she had tweeted earlier this year.
For now, all her focus is on two of her upcoming films, Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies, and Nani’s Jersey, which are slated for release in the next few weeks. Admittedly, it was screenwriter Sridhar Raghavan who told Shraddha about Milan Talkies and being a huge fan of Tigmanshu’s work, the actress didn’t think twice about reaching out to the director. “Sridhar and I had been in touch after U Turn’s release, and at one point of time, he had pitched a web series to me. Unfortunately, it didn’t take off. But a little later, Sridhar told me that Tigmanshu Dhulia was casting for Milan Talkies and that I should give it a shot. When I spoke to Tigmanshu, the only thing he asked me was if I spoke Hindi (laughs). When he wanted me to audition for the film, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening. I’ve been a huge fan of his work right from the time I saw Haasil,” Shraddha smiles, as she recalls her first interaction with the Milan Talkies director. “I didn’t even listen to the full script when I signed the film because I was so eager to work with him.”
Before Tigmanshu Dhulia signed Ali Fazal and Shraddha Srinath to play the lead roles in this romantic drama set in Allahabad, the script had been pitched to several actors including Priyanka Chopra, Shraddha Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor, and Imran Khan. Back in 2012, he was in talks with Ekta Kapoor who evinced interest to produce the film. When it didn’t take off after several rounds of discussions, at one point of time, it was reportedly shelved before the director decided to revive it in 2018. Shraddha says, “It’s more like a dream project for him. Several incidents in the story are drawn from his own life and you can see how attached he is with this script every time you talk to him. Throughout the shoot, he would tell me about his experiences of growing up in Allahabad and there’s a sense of nostalgia because the film too explores a time frame when people used to throng to single screen theatres to watch movies. He was so particular about my expressions and language that I had to work equally hard to impress him. When you know how special this film is to him, you don’t want to disappoint him. He’s a gem of a person and treated me like his own daughter.”
Incidentally, Milan Talkies is her first full-fledged romantic drama in her career. Although some of her films like Vikram Vedha had a love story arc, she has almost always been offered serious films post-U Turn. “I love romantic films, and I haven’t done a film like Milan Talkies in my career so far. Some of my films have had a romantic angle and I particularly enjoyed shooting for Vikram Vedha. It’s lovely to get into a character which has a good arc. In Milan Talkies, the lead pair bonds over their mutual love for cinema. It’s beautifully written,” Shraddha reveals, adding, “Ali Fazal was fantastic to work with. We bonded a lot over music and TV shows, and he has done a wide range of films. So, there was always something interesting to talk about. He helped me to elevate my performance.”
“Milan Talkies is also the first film in my career where I performed a stunt sequence,” Shraddha adds, recalling an incident during the shoot. “Initially, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off convincingly. I was really nervous on the day of the shoot because a lot of people were working on rigging for a stunt sequence, and I didn’t want their hard work go down the drain. Everyone kept telling me to not be nervous and not push myself if I feel uncomfortable while being harnessed. I got the shot right in the second take and the whole unit clapped. I’ll never forget that moment.”
Then, there’s Jersey, a sports drama directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri, in which Shraddha is paired opposite Nani. The story explores the life of a cricketer, who’s past his prime, and how he tries to make a comeback. “In the past few years, Telugu cinema has changed a lot and Jersey too has got a strong character-driven story. I was really happy when I was offered this role. It might seem like an unusual debut for me considering that most actresses begin their careers with action dramas or romantic films, but if anyone has followed my work and the kind of roles I chose, they would have expected that I would do something like this. When Gowtam narrated me the story, I could visualise quite a few scenes which highlight a character’s graph. Jersey also has a lovely subplot about a couple who have seen great days in the past and how it affects their relationship in the present scenario,” Shraddha says.
The actress struck a great rapport with Gowtam Tinnanuri and Nani too. “Gowtam is extremely quiet and you never know what’s happening in his mind. Whenever we spoke about the characters in the film, his perspective was quite interesting. And Nani is absolutely amazing to work with, and down to earth as a person. It’s really inspiring when you think about how far he has come in his life, right from being an assistant director to a radio jockey and then, finally becoming a wonderful actor. Since he is very well-versed with cinema and direction, the whole process of acting with him becomes very dynamic,” Shraddha says before signing off.
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