Actor Shraddha Srinath. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)
Actor Shraddha Srinath. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

My talent brought me fame, not good looks: Shraddha Srinath

Shraddha Srinath reflects on the challenges of being a female actor, straddling multiple industries and her excitement on being part of the OTT era

At an airport, a fan spotted Shraddha Srinath and exclaimed several times about how ‘normal’ the star looked. “That was enough validation for the choices I make every day in my career to be perceived as a ‘real’ celebrity,” revealed the actor at a session titled ‘Women and Cinema: New Beginnings’, at the 10th edition of ThinkEdu Conclave, hosted by The New Indian Express in Chennai.

Steering the conversation to how undue and relentless obsession with women’s bodies and appearances could affect a female actor’s peace of mind, Shraddha said, “Heroines are expected to look ethereal and otherworldly, which is not an achievable look. By casting me in U-Turn, director Pawan Kumar took a chance that proved to people that a female actor can look like anybody and she can act. It was refreshing to play a real woman who approaches a colleague to ask him out, instead of waiting to get pursued.”

While Shraddha’s choices from her 11-year acting career helped her realise the kind of actor she wanted to be, it was her Vikram Vedha co-star Madhavan’s praises that helped reaffirm it. “Maddy told me I act so well, and I didn’t need to dance around trees.” And now, even when a character is sold to her as a relatable one, she knows it isn’t usually the case. “People know I won’t pick a role if I don’t find it realistic. I want people to remember what I did in the film.”

When asked about how she adapted to the specific requirements of each film industry, Shraddha said, “Networking isn’t my forte, which is required in Mumbai a lot more than in the industries in South India. I believe that my talent speaks for itself. If they like my work, they will approach me.”

With repeated rejections for roles and heightened social media scrutiny taking a toll, Shraddha shared that she doesn’t take the industry too seriously. “Post Milan Talkies (her Hindi film debut), I received calls, and auditioned too, but I never heard back. We are not even told if we have made it or not.” 

Crediting hard work and destiny for her accolades and success, she said, “As a lawyer who was also dabbling in theatre, I used to finish rehearsals in the morning, go to work, and then proceed to nighttime rehearsals. When I improved some aspect of my performance in a rehearsal, I would feel good. I knew I could act then, and that I was a misfit in law. When I see myself today, I know I have worked for it.” Change may be slow for women in the film industry but progress is definitely there. Welcoming more women writers and filmmakers, Shraddha said, “When women are at the (scripting) table making decisions, they lend something else…to the characters that male writers cannot understand or see.”

With more actors embracing OTT platforms, it has upped the ante to prove themselves. “On a level-playing field like these platforms, there are no superstars. You get ten seasons to prove to the audience you’re worth their time and attention. To survive there, you have to retain interest.” Shraddha is also a part of an upcoming female-led Telugu film, and two Tamil projects—a sci-fi film and one addressing caste. “I’m happy to be alive at a time when there are exciting OTT projects and female writers,” she signed off.