Sandalwood's action queen: Actor Hariprriya on doing films as solo lead
There’s intense music and action-packed fight scenes, and the actor makes a grand entry – sounds like a typical south Indian hero’s introduction scene, doesn’t it? Well, not if you’re Hariprriya, who’s daringly breaking stereotypes by playing the solo lead in an industry with a dearth of strong women characters.
As someone who’s able to draw audiences without a male star in her films, Hariprriya is the much-needed change that the Kannada film industry needs.
During the launch of the teaser of her latest film Kannad Gothilla, directed by Mayuraa Raghavendra, TNM caught up with the actor and got talking about her journey and more.
How does it feel to carry an entire movie on her shoulders? “The script and the screenplay of the film gave me confidence to pursue this role. It feels nice to be doing female-oriented films with my previous film D/O Parvathamma being one too, but story-wise, the two movies are poles apart,” says the actor, who plays a cop in Kannad Gothilla.
Very few lead women actors in Kannada manage to bring in audiences without a big male lead starring opposite them. What does she feel about breaking the glass ceiling?
“It feels amazing and makes me so happy. I’m from a non-industry background, I never dreamt of reaching here. I just thought I’d be doing one or two films. Back in school, I was always good at cultural activities and later participated in college fests. A manager saw my pictures and soon, I was introduced to Tulu cinema and later, the Kannada industry. I then thought of going back to college, but later I did Telugu and Tamil films too. I’m happy I’m getting to experiment with more roles and not being typecast in one particular genre. I’ve been told by directors that when they were writing a particular script, they thought of me, so that makes me feel good. I didn’t know I’d be in the industry for so long, when I look back at my life, most of my memories are of shoots, films and travelling,” Hariprriya smiles.
Having played a police officer in her previous film too, is she worried that she may be confined to playing only such roles? “I’m not worried, but people may stereotype and say she belongs to that category. I’m cautious about that. After I did Neer Dose, I was offered something similar, I got around 40 offers including songs where they offered me big money, but I said no. Since I’d done women-oriented films in the recent past, I didn’t want another one. But after hearing the story of KG, I felt I had to do it. I’m happy that I’m getting diverse roles to portray - in Ricky, I played a Naxalite, in Samhara, I was a villain, in Neer Dose, I was a sex worker. I’m thankful to the directors and writers,” says the artiste, whose upcoming films include Bichugathi, where she plays a queen and fighter, Illidhe Illithanka, which is a love story filled with family values and traditions and Kathasangama with Rishabh Shetty.
“Kannada is the hero in KG. I liked the way Mayuraa has blended the love for Kannada with a crime storyline. Every Kannadiga can relate to it. Our city is filled with migrants – some of them come here and learn the language, some of them don’t and then there are also people who know Kannada, but don’t talk. I’d like to thank everyone who’s learnt our language – wherever you go, you need to respect their culture,” adds the actor, who recently penned a letter in her mother tongue and shared it on social media, much to her Kannada followers’ delight.
An avid travel buff, when she’s not setting the screen on fire, Hariprriya takes off to her favourite destinations to unwind. She had major fun on her recent trip to Bali and reveals that she loves visiting places with a lot of greenery. “I like to explore new places. Next on my wish-list are Masai Mara, where I want to see the animal migration and Rann of Kutch. I’m also going to Australia and the UK this year,” she says. The actor is also a gastronome with a sweet tooth, and she’s been relishing location-specific delicacies over the last one month.
As a popular actress in the Kannada industry, what’s her take on the #MeToo movement? “Whenever something has happened to me, I have always told off people on their face and cleared the issue then and there. If you delay speaking up, the moment loses its significance. I have been following this, but I know that not everyone can,” she says.