Last week, Shritej grabbed attention for reprising the role of Chandrababu Naidu (CBN) in Lakshmi’s NTR, Shritej not only looked like the AP Chief Minister, but also won accolades for his acting prowess. The recognition comes to this Vijayawada-born actor after 13 long years, during which period he played a hero in two Telugu films which sank without a trace.
Biopics seem to suit him, his role as Devineni Nehru in Vangaveeti and as Y S Rajashekar Reddy in Kathanayakudu and Mahanayakudu got him some recognition. Currently wrapping up Akshara which he had signed long ago, he is looking forward to doing some interesting roles.
He came to the film industry in 2006 and began working as an assistant director, after which he embarked on acting trials. Ask Shritej why it took him so long to get a break and he insists nothing speaks like success. He put in 100% in all his previous acting assignments but only when a film becomes a big hit do people recognise the efforts. The success of any movie improves the actor’s visibility; there is wide publicity, so there is shying away from the cameras. “I have been here for many years, but the happiness I have got now is unparalleled, this is probably what my family and I have been waiting for,” he quips, recollecting all the hard work he put in to bag the role.
Working for selection
From the time Ram Gopal Varma announced Lakshmi’s NTR, he nurtured a small hope that he might be asked to audition for a role in the film. He had some old photos where he looked like CBN; he made a collage and sent it to director Manju Agastya. Shritej says, “Meanwhile Ram Gopal Varma apparently zeroed in on someone to portray CBN. I too got busy with NTR’s biopic by Krish.”
Sharing details of how he finally bagged the role, Shritej says, “One evening the director called, asking me to dress up like CBN and send a photograph on WhatsApp immediately. It was around 8.30pm. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I began gathering all I could to dress like CBN. I had given away many clothes while shifting to a new home, but luckily I had one particular shirt which I thought was apt. I wore slippers like the CM wears, looked out for an old diary to hold in the hand and a similar pen. All these are small things, but I wanted the production house to know that I was interested in the role and I made an effort to look like CBN. I applied gel on my hair, made powder out of pencil lead and smeared it on my face to get a tanned look and coloured my beard partially with tooth paste to get the grey look. Then I worked on the pose and asked my mother to click photos. That’s when I discovered my mother is mobile savvy. . In two minutes of receiving the images, they said I was selected.”
Shritej prepped for the role by watching videos of CBN, practising his gait and speech for over four months.
Post Lakshmi’s NTR, he does not want to do similar stuff. He wants to play diverse roles, and strong ones at that.