From Uppena to Banggarraju: Actor Krithi Shetty on her journey in Tollywood

In an interview with TNM, actor Krithi Shetty talks about her journey from ads to films, how Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has inspired her and about her dream roles.
Actor Krithi Shetty
Actor Krithi Shetty
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When the song ‘Ishq Shifaya’ from the Telugu film Uppena was released on YouTube last year, audiences were mesmerised by Krithi Shetty who was in it, and once the movie was out they were impressed with her acting skills. Over the last year, this actor from Bengaluru has been busy with back-to-back projects in Tollywood. She has acted in Uppena, Shyam Singha Roy and Bangarraju. She has three Telugu films coming out as well – Aa Ammayi Gurinchi Meeku Cheppali, Warrior and Macherla Niyojakavargam. And while busy with her film career, Krithi is also simultaneously doing her graduation in psychology.

Amidst Krithi’s packed schedule, TNM caught up with her to talk about her journey from ads to films, how Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has inspired her and about her dream roles. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Whether it is Sangeetha in Uppena, Keerthy in Shyam Singha Roy or even Naga Lakshmi in Bangarraju, the characters you have played in each movie are very different from each other. On what basis are you choosing roles?

I haven't taken professional acting classes and I don't have any background in films. So, I choose roles that are different from each other, which will give me wide experience at the beginning of my career. And, by choosing different characters, I want to tell different kinds of stories. I don't want to give the audience the same thing over and over. 

I feel lucky, as directors are approaching me with various kinds of scripts. Usually, my mother and I listen to the script and we decide whether the particular character will suit me or not. 

I am also inspired by Aamir Khan. I really respect him. He delivers different characters with excellence and watching him onscreen you feel like you have got your money’s worth. He really inspires me to give people something new every time.

How is Alekhya, the character you are playing in your upcoming Telugu film Aa Ammayi Gurinchi Meeku Cheppali, different from previous roles? Going by the teaser of the film, it looks a bit similar to Shyam Singha Roy, as it too shows a director in search of an actor.

I'm playing the role of an eye doctor in this movie. Though the teaser has little overlapping segments with my previous film, my characterisation and the movie are going to be entirely different and audiences will realise that once they watch the film.

To research for this movie, I met with ophthalmologists, saw what they do, how they interact with patients, and the equipment they use. Director Mohan garu helped me a lot with the characterisation.

How was it working with director Mohana Krishna Indraganti for this movie?

Working with him was like being around family. He was very energetic and would notice the smallest things in the actor’s performance and compliment it. I love discussing characterisation and Mohan sir is also the same, so we would spend a lot of time talking about what the character does, what she eats and what she would do in her free time, among other things.

You started acting in ad films at a young age and have done over 20 advertisements. Now, you are a part of the film industry, how has the journey been?

I entered the ad industry when I was around 13 years old. During ad shoots, it was all about being energetic and bubbly and the shoot usually finished in a day. For me, it was about having fun and getting to know people. While I was doing ads, I came to Hyderabad for a shoot a couple of years ago. During that time someone suggested my name for a role in Uppena. That’s how I got my first film. The role gave me the opportunity to try out all kinds of expressions and a range of emotions. I love how in films the roles are so detailed and even the smallest gesture and expression matter.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I haven't planned that far ahead, I prefer living in the moment and I am satisfied with what I'm doing now. But I definitely want to be in the industry and continue to entertain people with my performances.

Is there a dream role you would like to do?

I want to do roles that challenge me. I am not a very active person when it comes to workouts, although I do love dancing. So, I would like to push myself to do an action role, where there are stunts and fights, which I'm not used to doing. I would also like to be a part of a period drama and play a princess, where getting into the skin of the character requires background research. Both the roles mentioned are different for me, so I would want to take them up.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Aa Ammayi Gurinchi Meeku Cheppali is going to be my next film that will come out, then there is Warrior with Ram and Macherla Niyojakavargam with Nithiin. I have been busy with back-to-back movies and filming as well. Now, I want to take things slow and wait for all my current projects to finish. I do not want to miss out on good offers, but I also want to be careful when picking the next film I do.

As a newcomer, how has Tollywood treated you?

As far as I'm concerned it's a very warm and welcoming industry, whether it is the film fraternity or the fans. This motivates me to give my 100%. Everyone loved my performance in my first movie. I want to maintain this and give back the same love that I have received.

There are conversations on pay equity in the industry now. Being a young woman actor, how do you negotiate your salary?

I feel like times are changing and there is more openness about discussing this now compared to before, from what I have heard, and I'm happy about it. Coming to pay, it depends on the market and the actor’s experience in the industry.

Many women actors enter the industry when they are very young and discussions have come up regarding consent while filming intimate scenes. This came up during Shyam Singha Roy's release too.

During Shyam Singha Roy, I was not a minor. But during Uppena, I was and they dealt with the intimate scenes with a lot of sensitivity and created a comfortable environment. Camera tricks were used and my mother was there during the shooting. Senior dance master Brindha was there as well and she knew how to handle it. Making the actor comfortable is important as doing such scenes is not easy.

Sai Pallavi intervened on your behalf when a reporter posed an unprofessional question to you about an intimate scene in Shyam Singha Roy. Do you feel entertainment reporters need to be sensitised?

Yes, reporters need to put themselves in our place and see if they would be comfortable if they were asked such questions. It was unnecessary and lacked understanding, which was a little disappointing. Even though we are actors, we are humans with emotions and it's not like we don't get hurt or feel anything when people say something that is disrespectful. Speaking on behalf of all the actors, sensitivity would be appreciated.

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