Meet model, actor, singer, dog-lover, and chanter, Shraddha Das, who dislikes flexible, ever-changing schedules and actually craves for monotony!
The temperature is just about kissing 40 degrees, and I’m breaking into a sweat – literally. It’s mid-afternoon in Mumbai, when the sun’s out in all its scorching splendour, and I curse the heat as I enter the venue for my interview. But it only takes the first minute of interaction with Shraddha for me to change my complaining nature. For here’s someone who’s been up since 5 in the morning, and it’s 3pm now – the Urbane team is just about wrapping up the final segment of her photoshoot. But she still looks fresh, greets me warmly, and smiles through the whole interview, not a hint of impatience or annoyance at an admittedly long day that doesn’t seem to end.
We begin with her journey from Telugu cinema to Bollywood, and she’s quick to rightfully and graciously correct me. “It’s been a long journey and not just Telugu, but I’ve worked in Kannada, Bengali, Malayalam and Hindi – a total of 35 films in these languages. As for my experiences, it’s been a mixed bag – but mostly good. If I was however to compare just Telugu cinema and Bollywood, I’d like to say that first and foremost I owe a lot to Telugu cinema because everything I have today is from that language, and I respect it immensely. In fact, people get surprised because Hindi and Bengali are the languages I’ve always spoken, but I’m actually most comfortable with Telugu now, and I’ve even sung a song in it!”
When asked what she likes most about acting, her reply is impressive: “We go through a range of emotions as people in our lives, some negative, and the best part about my profession is that instead of letting these negative emotions destroy you as a person, I am able to put it into my job, and channel it there. So it’s cathartic of sorts.” Shraddha tackles my nepotism question well too. “Yes, it can be frustrating, especially when you lose out on a role you’re better suited for to someone from a film family, and I’ve experienced that, but then I also feel that it can only help in getting the first few opportunities. The fact is that if you’re not good on screen, the audience isn’t going to accept you – nepotism or not.”
I ask Shraddha to name one quality an aspiring actor needs to survive in this profession and pat comes the response: “Perseverance. And balls of steel,” she says candidly. For her, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is an inspiration and someone who epitomises the word perseverance. She adds, “In fact, I’ve often discouraged people I know from becoming actors because you really need to be thick-skinned to exist here. If they’d still like to try, I always advise them to make it a Plan B, and not a Plan A. Let your corporate job, or anything you’re currently doing, be your Plan A.”
Shraddha’s recent Telugu film, Garuda Vega, was a massive hit, and she’s excited about her upcoming projects: “I’m doing a short film with Sujoy Ghosh titled Mirchi Malini where I’ll be playing a journalist, and another film with Viacom. There’s also a big project I’m part of, but I cannot reveal details yet.” Well, at Just Urbane, we look forward to that, and wish Shraddha with all the perseverance to succeed in her endeavours. Oh, and her final advice to all the women out there: “Be financially independent. Because nothing makes you feel better about yourself than that.”
We couldn’t agree more.