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‘Nerkonda Paarvai’ is as much a ‘Thala’ Ajith movie as it is about us, says Shraddha Srinath

It’s surprising that Shraddha Srinath hasn’t watched Pink yet. She hadn’t had a chance to watch it when the movie released in 2016. That, sort of, helped for playing Meera Krishnan in its Tamil remake Nerkonda Paarvai, releasing on August 8. “I didn’t even try watching Pink when I got the part in Tamil, although I’ve seen some rushes. I’ll watch it once Nerkonda Paarvai releases,” smiles Shraddha Srinath rather wryly. The biggest challenge for director H Vinoth, according to Shraddha, was to find actors who would be convincing and would justify the parts as well. “They needed someone who had a slightly tomboy-ish vibe to the character. Meera is bold and has a strong opinion about matters. She’s someone who would say, ‘I’ll fight you man, try me,” she says, about the casting process, which took longer than usual.

Understanding the character

You could draw parallels between Shraddha and Taapsee Pannu, who played Minal Arora in Pink. Going by Nerkonda Paarvai’s trailer, it does appear that Shraddha perfectly fits the bill to play Meera. She admits that hers was a tough and equally complicated character to pull off, given that she was subjected to sexual assault. The actor says she had to be in a certain state of mind to internalise the character and, in fact, accumulated bitter memories to get into that zone. “I went back to the times when I felt uncomfortable. It could be a touch or a casual hug that left me deeply disturbed. I examined those incidents; how I felt at that time and what I could’ve done,” she continues, “This is something every woman goes through and I’ve had conversations with my mom and aunt. I wish I had done something back then. I wish I had slapped that person.” All that anger and frustration were manifested in making Shraddha what she is today. She describes the process to be traumatic, for she had to hark back to those unnerving experiences she had, to get into Meera’s headspace. “More than what happened, it’s that feeling of being helpless at that point,” she adds.

‘Nerkonda Paarvai’ is as much a ‘Thala’ Ajith movie as it is about us, says Shraddha Srinath

One of the under-appreciated aspects of Shraddha Srinath is how she manages to get the lip-sync right, irrespective of the language she’s works in, despite being a Kannadiga. She believes that the essence of a character gets lost in translation if she doesn’t feel the dialogues. Which is why she keeps composing sentences in her mind while shooting. “Telugu is a lot like Kannada, so I don’t have a problem with Telugu. But Tamil is very difficult to learn, man. I know it’s a commitment and you need to make an effort to learn the language. Otherwise, you’re just emoting,” she says, quickly admitting that it was rather challenging to work in a dialogue-heavy movie like Nerkonda Paarvai. She knew that she couldn’t afford to mess up a subject that’s hardly spoken in mainstream cinema. “I was given the script much before the shoot, because they knew my Tamil was bad,” she laughs, “I read the script pretty much every night before the shoot. And had to work on my dialogues.”

A potential game changer

Pink wasn’t advertised as an Amitabh Bachchan-starrer, as opposed to its Tamil version which has Ajith Kumar in the lead. For, the Hindi movie was essentially about three women while Amitabh’s character was treated like a bystander to the proceedings. However, Shraddha is convinced that Nerkonda Paarvai is as much a ‘Thala movie’ as it’s about them. “Had it been about the three of us, who would come to watch it? When you have a superstar like Ajith at the helm, it’ll reach every nook and corner,” she says. That perhaps explains why Shraddha considers it fortunate to have worked with Ajith Kumar at an early stage in her career. She understands the stakes involved and believes that Nerkonda Paarvai is her biggest film till date. “Be it in terms of the scale or screen time, there are a lot of factors that suggest why it’s a big deal. And a large part of it stems from the fact that it’s an Ajith Kumar movie.”

Shraddha went to Law school and is a lawyer herself, though she never litigated any court proceedings. More than anybody else, she knows how important and relevant Nerkonda Paarvai is.“It’s lovely to make a movie that begins with a court case and in between, you have flashes of the incident. Towards the end, the judgement is passed. I wish that was the case in real life,” she sighs, adding, “A lot would change if laws were strictly enforced. I know it’s a medieval thought, but fear is what keeps us from doing wrong things, right?”

Shraddha Srinath poses for a picture

Shraddha Srinath poses for a picture
 
| Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

Inside Shraddha’s world

Shraddha made a decision, a wise one actually — to not select movies that would treat her like an eye-candy. She attributes part of that to U Turn, in which she gave a breakout performance. “After that movie, I came across as someone who was too forward and wasn’t willing to play second fiddle. That slot was also vacant when I entered Kannada industry, I guess,” she says, “It’s also because I prefer playing real characters.” Shraddha did test the commercial waters, playing a very commercial heroine in movies like Rustum. If anything, it was a successful experiment for her. “I wanted to see if I would fare as a commercial heroine,” she laughs, “I’ll be honest, acting in a commercial film has its perks — crazy stardom, crazy money and frequent trips abroad — but why would I aspire for something I’m not cut out for?” Shraddha has been giving us consistently good performances — whether it is Tamil, Telugu or Kannada. In retrospect, is she satisfied with the kind of roles that came her way? “Hundred percent,” she smiles, saying, “Funnily though, people remember me for the films that worked. I have had misses too. My choices have always been reflective of how I was as a person at that point.”

Among the younger crop of actors, Shraddha comes across as someone who seems to have found her own independent voice in the characters she plays, be it Vikram Vedha in Tamil or the recent Jersey in Telugu. But the actor credits the writers “for writing such beautiful characters”. She adds, “When everything is written with such good care, you just have to act. I remember the night of Vikram Vedha’s release when Vijay Sethupathi said, ‘You gave a strong performance as Priya without doing much’.”

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