Actor Shraddha Srinath talks about her choice of films, and a personal Bengaluru connection

The actor talks about her initial days in the industry, travelling by public transport in Bengaluru and the aromas of the city that will always remind her of childhood
Shraddha Srinath
Shraddha Srinath

As an army child, Shraddha Srinath lived in seven cities and changed nine schools, before finally settling down in Bengaluru in 2008. With such a perambulant childhood, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the 28-year-old is one of the most outspoken and outgoing actors in the South Indian film industry today. Even Shraddha’s choice of roles reflects her extroverted personality. From playing a journalist in U-Turn, an adamant and bold student in Kaatru Veliyidai, and a strong-headed woman in Operation Alamelamma, to a lawyer in Vikram Vedha, Shraddha, a qualified lawyer in real life, is making strong strides, consolidating her position as one of the most astute actors in South India.

In the spotlight
Chatting with us between shoots, she tells us about how it all began. “Films were never on my mind. I always wanted to be a theatre actor and be on stage under the arc lights. Films happened by sheer luck,” she shares. By 2015, Shraddha had become a familiar face in the Bengaluru theatre circuit. Having acted in innumerable plays with groups like Barking Dog Productions, Playtonik Productions, PlayPen and Jugaad Co, she perfected her skills over four years before she got her break in the film industry. Her earliest memories of acting, she recalls, was during lunch break in school. “I must have been about 10. I was in an all-girls convent school. We would finish lunch early and enact scenes from some serials that my mother watched. That was during childhood. After moving to Bengaluru, I started experimenting with acting. I wanted to know if I really had it in me to be an actor and that’s how I got into theatre,” she says.

Despite having spent four years on stage, and having appeared in numerous television commercials, getting her first break wasn’t a cakewalk. Though she appeared in a cameo in the Malayalam film Kohinoor in 2015, it was only with her Kannada debut film U-Turn in 2016, that Shraddha was able to make an impact. “The reasons for which Pawan (Kumar, director) selected me were in fact the reasons for which I was rejected in many auditions earlier,” recalls the actor, adding, “I had short curly hair, I wasn’t the fairest or the slimmest. Many people would tell me, I had short hair, therefore, I cannot be a heroine. They would ask me if I had come to audition for the character role. Nobody saw me as a heroine.”

Shraddha proved all her detractors wrong and bagged films not just in Kannada, but also in the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi film industries. She has just finished shooting Milan Talkies, her Hindi debut and is currently shooting for a Tamil film Maara, opposite R Madhavan.

Mastering Kannada
Within a matter of two years, the young actor has had 11 releases. All of the films have worked well and consequently, Shraddha has bagged more work. But her biggest learning is that she is open to working in all kinds of films. “When I started out, I was keen on sticking to only meaningful, independent cinema. Then, I realised this is my job and I need to pay my bills, so from being a very idealistic person, I have now become more realistic. I am always trying to balance work in both intelligent cinema and commercial films. This has been my learning. However, I will always put quality ahead of quantity. I don’t want to drown in a sea of mediocre films. I am comfortable with fewer releases because I am focusing on longevity in the industry,” says Shraddha who admits to having had a tough time picking up South Indian languages.

Though she is proud to call herself a Kannadiga, the actor reveals it was a tough task for her to speak Kannada fluently. “Acting was fairly simple but delivering lines in Kannada was challenging. Kannada is my mother tongue but we also speak in Hindi and English in equal measure at home, so, I found it difficult to speak in my native language. But just being part of the industry, conversing in Kannada and observing others speak has helped me get more comfortable with the language,” she offers.

Finding home
It’s this earnestness that makes Shraddha stand out from her contemporaries — a characteristic that also reflects when she speaks about why she chose to settle down in Bengaluru when she could have chosen
any other city. “I have lived in seven cities,” says the actor. Born in Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir), the actor has called Suratgarh (Rajasthan), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Dharchula (Uttarakhand), Belgaum (Karnataka), Masimpur (Assam) and Secunderabad (Telangana) home thanks to her father’s
job in the army. “I had just graduated from school and my parents had given me the choice of continuing my studies in either Mumbai, Pune or Bengaluru.

Luckily, I was accepted to a Bengaluru college and I was happy because this city is special to me. Even today, I associate certain smells with Bengaluru, like the smell of filter coffee and malige huvu (jasmine flowers). These remind me of my childhood, when I used to spend my summer vacations here. No matter how much the city changes, these smells will always be part of its identity,” says Shraddha.

From the day she moved into a college hostel, Shraddha started living an independent life. Using BMTC buses and living in a hostel as opposed to her aunt’s house during vacations, the youngster then got a real taste of Bengaluru. It’s been 10 years since she moved to Karnataka, and Shraddha now lives with her parents. “There are days when I feel glad that I have found home, I have found a place where I belong. Then there are days when I feel like, I am stagnant, I need to move on. I guess it is a balance of
both.But there’s a sense of belonging in Bengaluru,” she signs off.

Behind the scenes:

What's next: Milan Talkies is my Hindi debut with Ali Fazal. It’s a love story. In Kannada, my next two releases are Godhra, a political drama and Rustum, a cop drama.

Fitness mantra: I run for about 40-50 minutes daily. I enjoy running and it’s convenient when I am travelling. I also have a dietician.

Style statement: I work with a bunch of stylists for events. Otherwise, I am usually in jeans and a T-shirt. I am a sucker for sneakers.

When not working: I spend time with my family. And I rarely go out, thanks to my busy schedule.

Secret addiction: I love to collect perfumes. My most favourite is Bright Crystal by Versace.

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