Shraddha at The Gateway Hotel. Pictures: Pabitra Das
You’ve done 15 films down south and The Royal Bengal Tiger is your first Bengali film. What took you so long?
I have always loved doing regional cinema whether it’s Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada.... More than me my father was very keen that I do a Bengali film. He is from Purulia and all my relatives are from West Bengal and they follow Bengali cinema. So, whenever I would come back to visit my parents from Bombay they would say ‘Why can’t you do a Bengali film for us? We’d be really proud’. I am glad it’s better late than never and to have Abir (Chatterjee) and Jeet sir in my first Bengali film is great. Plus, The Royal Bengal Tiger is produced by Neeraj Pandey’s Friday Filmworks and Viacom 18 so it’s a great debut!
You didn’t try for a Bengali film at the beginning of your career?
No. I tried in Hindi and south happened on its own. I would say that my bread and butter comes from south, for sure. It’s been five years that I am working down south.
Language never posed a problem?
Only in the first film (Siddu From Sikakulam). I would say Telugu is easier for me than Bengali! (Laughs) Not because I don’t know Bengali, aami jaani Bengali. But the pure Bengali, I am not too familiar with.
A lot of Bengali actresses work down south….
I think more than Bengalis they prefer girls from the north, from Mumbai, because the local girls down south do not get into films and even if they do the success ratio isn’t much. They think we are better trained when it comes to acting and dancing. Anyway, as we all know that Bengali girls are talented. (Laughs)
What is your role in The Royal Bengal Tiger?
I play a government office employee who is Abir’s colleague. She is a divorcee and a motormouth. She gets happy, excited and angry at the drop of a hat. It’s a journey of Abir’s character, obviously, and the people surrounding him and how they affect his life. I play one of the catalysts who affects his life as well.
How was it working with Abir and Jeet?
Great! I am lucky. Jeet sir is known more as the commercial film star and Abir is known for the serious films and I am getting to work where there’s a combination of both. Among all the industries that I have worked in, I feel that the people here are most sensitive and most humane to actors on sets. Abir is my sweetest co-actor! Jeet sir I don’t need to say much. Everybody knows he is a big star and I have always noticed that bigger the star more humble he is and that goes for him as well.
A lot of Telugu films are being remade in Bangla….
Yes, I know.
Have any of your films been remade here?
I have heard that Arya 2 is going to be made here. Jeet sir and Dev are the two actors, I think, who star in these remakes.
Have you seen any recent Bengali film?
I have heard a lot about Chander Pahar and everybody is telling me to watch it. Boss too. I have seen one of Abir’s Bomkesh Bakshi films on TV. Frankly speaking, I don’t have too much knowledge about Bengali films.
You’ve just finished shooting for three Hindi films….
Yes. Zid produced by Anubhav Sinha, Lucky Kabootar, a psychological thriller, and Chai Shai Biscuit which is an offbeat film.
1 Your sex appeal lies in…
2 One thing in a man that turns you on…
So many things... I guess being a really nice person and being the same all through. I hate people who change on a day-to-day basis. I like people with same, constant, nice behaviour with everyone.
3 The hottest compliment you’ve got from a man…
Well, I’m a very big fan of Sushmita Sen and somebody told me that I look like her and I have the same personality as hers and I was like ‘Wow’!
4 One thing you would never do on screen…
I have worn a bikini in a Telugu film (Mogudu) before. I don’t think I would want to do that again because the kind of reactions that you get are either too positive or too negative and to face that needs a lot of guts. I have faced that once so I don’t think I would want to do that again. And if I get married, I would not want to do lovemaking scenes!
5 One hero (Tolly/Bolly/Holly) you would like to romance on screen…
From Bengal, Dev. Salman Khan from Bollywood and Will Smith from Hollywood. Mahesh Babu from the Telugu industry.
6 The wildest thing you have ever done...
I have done really crazy things in life. When I was in college my parents wouldn’t allow me to go on a fun trip with friends. So my best friend and I lied that we were going to stay for a few days at each other’s places and we went to Goa for two days where we lost all our money and played at the casino, won a lot and had a whale of a time! Nobody knew till date. Now they will, after reading t2! (Laughs)
7 The first physical feature you think a man notices when he sees you…
Men notice weird things (goes ROFL)! I would say my dimples.
8 The first physical feature you notice about a man...
I guess his hair, I don’t know why. I like the fluffy Shah Rukh Khan waala hair!
9 The first physical feature you notice about a woman...
10 One question you want to be asked…. And the answer…
What I would like to say if I ever get the biggest award as an actress. The answer would be: It’s a long speech, you’ll get bored!