Many in our country are unaware of consent: Shraddha Srinath on Tamil ‘Pink’ remake

Shraddha Srinath speaks to TNM about ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’, quitting law to take up acting, and her big Bollywood debut with ‘Milan Talkies’.
Many in our country are unaware of consent: Shraddha Srinath on Tamil ‘Pink’ remake
Many in our country are unaware of consent: Shraddha Srinath on Tamil ‘Pink’ remake
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A few days ago, Shraddha Srinath had shared a Facebook post from 2015, written on the day she quit law to make her career in acting. Four years down the line, it would seem that Shraddha couldn’t have made a better decision. The actor has a slew of releases lined up in films across industries, including the highly anticipated Nerkonda Paarvai, the Tamil remake of the Hindi film Pink.

TNM caught Shraddha after a busy day of shooting for a chat in which she spoke about making her Bollywood debut with Milan Talkies, her thoughts about Nerkonda Paarvai and its powerful message, as well as her upcoming Telugu film Jersey with Nani. 

Your first Hindi and Telugu films, the Tamil remake of Pink – looks like you have a busy year ahead!

I’m definitely excited. As an actor, you keep wondering about what’s next. A thousand people will ask you what you’re doing now and there have been times when I wasn’t really working on anything. So when people asked me what I was working on, there was no positive answer to give. There are these moments when there’s so much pressure, you’re expected to just rattle out a list of things you’re doing. Last year was absolutely dry in terms of releases. I was busy filming though. But this year looks like THE year! I have back to back releases, one in March, one in April, one in May... this is the kind of busyness that you really long for as an actor. This is what I wanted when I quit my job.

You are a well-known face in the south now. Do you feel like a newcomer all over again in Bollywood?

Yeah, I do. I wasn’t treated like one on the sets of Milan Talkies, of course. They knew where I was coming from and the kind of experience I have. But entering the industry, you obviously feel the pressure. You will be considered a debutante, and you are in the rat race along with several other debutantes.

We hear that Milan Talkies is about a parallel film industry, one making spoofs, and that it’s also a love story. What’s your role in the film?

I play this girl who is a college student and is in her final year. She’s struggling to pass her final exams, and only if she passes will her alliance with this guy whom her parents are looking at, will come through. So she has to pass these exams to get married. Then enters the hero who is mad about films, who funds his own films by helping students pass exams. That’s his little business. So that’s how they meet and so on. It’s a romcom. In the larger context of the film, there’s Milan Talkies – it’s not just there physically as a theatre but it’s a character in itself.

Pink created a big splash in Bollywood when it released. Is Nerkonda Paarvai a faithful remake of the film?

I cannot speak about the film much. It is a faithful remake but there have been minor alterations made for the Tamil audience. It’s a very, very faithful adaptation.

Usually, in Tamil films, a woman is raped as a plot device for the hero to seek revenge or it’s a form of punishment for her behaviour. Pink’s central message was ‘No means No’. Do you think our audience is ready to accept it?

I feel a large part of our country is unaware of consent as a concept. They don’t understand the basics. There’s no such thing as marital rape for them, for instance. How can I rape my wife when she’s married to me? Stuff like this is beyond them. A movie will not change their outlook completely, but it’s definitely a step in that direction. It’s a good introduction to these basic concepts – how better to do it than through a visual medium like cinema? I think it’s going to get conversations started for sure.

Ajith is playing Amitabh Bachchan’s role in the film, but though you will have scenes with him, it’s not a hero-heroine kind of equation. Was it difficult figuring out what sort of chemistry to strike on screen?

Not really. The script tells you everything that you need to know. The relationship we share is that of a lawyer and his client. It was a very comfortable space for me to be working in. 

Nani’s Jersey is based on the life of cricketer Raman Lamba. Can you tell us about your role in the film?

I play his partner. The story spans over years. I play his partner from the beginning, someone who eventually becomes his wife. It’s the story of how this man’s decision affects their lives, not just them... there are so many characters involved. It goes into her story too.

Your first film was in Malayalam, but you haven’t done any other film after that?

I would love to do more work in Malayalam! But I haven’t got any offers from Kerala. As a language, it sort of intimidates me. Kannada is my mother tongue and so I speak it. Tamil, I had to learn from scratch and it took me many, many months to speak the language naturally like a native speaker. Telugu also I did that. But I find Malayalam daunting. I have this fear of the language, but the industry is so incredible. I really respect it and I follow a lot of Malayalam films, so yes, I’d love to work there.

Can you tell us about your upcoming films? There’s K-13 in Tamil, and what else?

K-13 is ready. It’s a thriller and I’m not sure what else I’m allowed to tell you (laughs). There’s Rustom in Kannada with Shivarajkumar, who is the king of Sandalwood, really. Another film called Godhra which is a political drama, is a very interesting film to watch out for. 

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