She’s enacted the belle with high glam in South and Hindi cinebiz. With Gali Gali Chor Hai, Shriya Saran is hopeful of success enacting Nisha, a small-time school teacher of Bhopal who supports her husband, Mr. Bharat, essayed by Akshaye Khanna, in his forceful crusade against corruption. Ajit Ramachanddran converses with the actress and comes away with his palms totally (un)greased…
Far from breaking news, it’s… barking news! Quite appropriately, since the subject of your discussion: Shriya Saran, insists on granting you an inter-phew… with a pet doggie perched right on her (star) lap!
The videographer grimaces a bit; you show your disinclination towards doggie dearest. However,Saran, who will be twirling under the screen spotlight, courtesy Gali Gali Chor Hai, hardly considers it an issue.
"This one’s a real sweetheart, he doesn’t even bark. He’s really gentle and won’t disturb this interview," asserts Saran looking at the pooch with the kind of affection only reserved for domesticated pets (or excessively-obsessed males, in that order).
Not a sound out of the well-mannered canine with snow-white fur. Without a murmur and a stifled demur, you agree nilly-willy. Mr. Videographer agrees to take a chance on this one, assuming that ‘No-Barking-Doggie’ won’t get rankled suddenly by one of the queries hurled at Saran… and bite our heads off!
At Nitin Manmohan’s office in suburban Mumbai, Saran slathers on some more lip-gloss, pouting into the mirror even as Ms. Hairdresser arranges her tresses more flatteringly.
Camera switched on, Shriya ticks off responses with facility. Excerpts from a transcribed chat with the South actress who’s hoping to grab attention with Gali Gali Chor Hai, a Nitin Manmohan production helmed by Rumy Jafry, that showcases her alongside Akshaye Khanna.
And oh… woof, woof!!
"I’m playing Nisha, a very simple down-to-earth girl, who’s a school teacher. She teaches at this small roadside school for underprivileged children at Bhopal. Nisha teaches the children about Rani Laxmibai, her character is very relatable and at the start of the film, she’s just like one of the audience members. But through the film, her character undergoes a change, there’s a graph and towards the end, she becomes the change that the audience sees in the film. Nisha understands what her husband, that’s played by Akshaye Khanna is going through and supports him in it. The best part is that when we were filming Gali Gali Chor Hai, there were many people in the unit who’d come up to me and say that Nisha is exactly how their wives were and that most wives were like her." (laughs)
"I totally support Anna Hazare’s movement and him. It’s great what he’s done with a small village and his hometown. The nicest part about him is that he’s not someone who just stood around blaming the system, but is someone who decided to do something about it. I appreciate what he’s done. He started his movement and stood up for his country when he was young. Anna Hazare is someone who’s also inspired a whole lot of youngsters too. That’s why many youngsters have stood beside him. What he’s talking about is interesting and difficult. It’s not that easy to accomplish. But I love the fact that a man like Anna Hazare has come up and said that he wants to accomplish the impossible! Yes, the movie also supports what Anna is saying because today the whole country is standing up and supporting him in his cause against corruption. It’s coincidental that Gali Gali Chor Hai has come at a time when the anti-corruption wave is at its peak. The beauty of the film also lies in the fact, that you will laugh at a very serious issue, because the film has a great sense of humour and some very witty one-liners. You may be laughing throughout the film, but when you do come out of the theatre, you will come back with a thought-provoking message in your head. If the movie manages to change a thought that it’s easy to blame the system, but it’s very difficult to get up and do something about it, I’d say we’ve achieved our objective. That’s why the tagline says, ‘Let’s slap the system’ and it’s fantastic."
"I think that Akshaye Khanna is one of the most well-prepared, intense and dedicated actors that I have worked with. Akshaye knows exactly how he’s going to perform his scenes, he’s very hard-working and prepares all his nuances for his scenes. I feel that he takes trouble to understand the character that he’s playing very well. He’s very well aware, very well-read and well-spoken. You can sit and chit chat with him over a whole lot of issues.
"The film has scenes where I’ve acted with some really good theatre actors. They’ve been there and done it, but yet they give so much to a scene. Even if their scene is over, they’ll stand around and give the cue for your scene if it’s required. When they’re in front of the camera, magic just happens. Take someone like Satish Kaushik, who’s so warm and giving as an actor and a person. He knows what exactly is happening in the scene before and after his scene, which every other actor might know too. But what makes him different is how he creates those little nuances for his scenes. I had a blast working on this film, on the whole."
I think that the nicest quality that director Rumy Jafry has is that he has a very good sense of humour. He’s a very caring and understanding as a person. Just being nice helps hugely when you’re in the creative business. Also, Rumy uncle is a fantastic writer, which the whole nation knows and I don’t have to say it separately. As a director, he gives you a whole lot of inputs behind what went behind that scene when he wrote it. When he’s directing a scene, he also generally sings a song or a ghazal that somehow helps you to get into that mood of the moment. As an actor, you don’t realise it, but that actually helps you to get into character in a better manner. He also likes you to ask him more questions and when he answers them, he feels that his job becomes simpler. A lot many directors don’t like the idea of too many questions being asked about their character or film.
Rumy uncle is from Bhopal and when we were filming there he’d get all this really yummy food. Everyday, I’d go and steal half of his tiffin (giggles). He’d get the most amazing ‘kebabs’, ‘koftas’ and ‘biryanis’. I couldn’t have enough of it! The day after Id, I asked Rumy uncle if I could come home. He invited me… and I took a whole lot of crew members of the film with me. His wife ended up cooking a lot for all of us!"
"I don’t really cook, but I do make omelettes and really good coffee. Someday, I will learn to cook and I’m quite sure that I will be a good cook. But I do like stealing other people’s food!" (guffaws).
"Everyday was a fun and funny day for me on the sets of Gali Gali Chor Hai. Beginning with stealing Rumy Sir’s food, and having pranks being played around me. The whole unit stayed at one hotel. So, at the end of it, you become like one big family. Once, they sent up someone to me saying that he was a huge fan of mine! I was chilling by the poolside with Mugdha (Godse) and I ran from there! I thought that this guy was a little mental! (laughs).Little did I know that they were filming the whole process!"