Hello, folks! Guess what? In this week’s #blabwithsandy, I have someone really special. She is special because she has a special talent that not many actresses possess. She is special because she has only hits to her name till date. She is special because she has got the opportunity to work with the biggie’s right at the start of her career. Even the word ‘special’ shall seem shy by looking at her growth not only as an actress but also as a special individual. The special guest is none other than Gouri G. Kishan! Let’s wait no further and dive into the exciting blab I had with her:
Sandy: Hey, Gouri! Hope you are doing as well as your performances.
Gouri: Ha-ha! Hello, Sandy! Yes, everything is going well.
Sandy: Wonderful! So, could you let us know about your early background?
Gouri: I was born into a normal middle class Malayali household, but I was brought up in Chennai. My upbringing was rooted and very much grounded. I was good at extra-curricular activities whilst my schooling and I was the cultural secretary too during our annual day events.
I also enjoyed studying and got myself trained in Bharatanatyam. I was good in my studies and simultaneously, I was inclined towards dance as it is something very close to my heart. I completed my graduation in Journalism and Psychology from Christ University. I believe, my stint with Christ University imbibed more discipline in me.
Sandy: How did ‘96’ happen to you?
Gouri: I’d auditioned for ‘96’ when I was in my 12th. I was academically very much focused, but my parents supported me to attend the auditions. I went and gave my audition, but I did not receive a call for a long time. I continued my studies and just left that thought out of my mind.
After 9 months of giving my audition, suddenly I got a call from the team, and they’d asked me to again give five rounds of auditions and my screen test was done. Somehow, they liked me, and I cracked the audition. That is how life works! I had forgotten about the auditions as many months passed by, but it was meant for me and that’s how ‘96’ happened to me.
Sandy: Indeed! Life has its own way of working out things for you, doesn’t it? 🙂 The film became a cult success and it brought you instant fame. Could you share some anecdotes on it?
Gouri: Almost every Indian household likes going to the theatres and the same was the case with my family. It has been a weekly ritual at home that we throng the cinemas every weekend, but never did I dream of being part of cinema myself. I couldn’t believe watching myself on the screen and I did not tell a lot of people about my debut in ‘96’. We went very low key as I always wanted to concentrate on education. I somehow managed my attendance and shot for the film. The way people loved ‘96’ and recognized me for my work was lovely.
I still remember the first day of the shoot wherein I hated my hairstyle that I had to keep for the character. My mom explained to me about it being the character, I had to forget who I was in real life and concentrate being the character in the reel life. I was only reacting to the character arc, and it worked out very well. It was an innocence driven character, very simple and relatable. By God’s grace, the film went on to do very well which none of us expected to get such an instant recognition.
Being a 19-year-old when the film released, I was spell bound to receive so much adulation and love. The next two years, I shuffled between college and the fame. Be it the teachers or my college friends never treated me any differently and that was the best part.
The next two years went by quickly as at one point I felt like I would miss my college life if I got into the movies. I did not want to drop out of college, so were couple of big offers that had come my way, but I had to opt out of them to complete my education. ‘96’ changed my life overnight but I also had to make some strong decisions to finish my education. It’s a great feeling nonetheless!
Sandy: You debuted in Tollywood with the remake of ‘96’ titled ‘Jaanu’. You played the same role in the remake. How different was it to play the same role in a different language?
Gouri: Language wise it was challenging to understand as I had no training in Telugu. Film making is spontaneous and with director Prem Sir’s guidance, I was able to give an organic performance in ‘96’ and I tried to imbibe the same in ‘Jaanu’. The film is all about emoting the character’s feelings and I concentrated on delivering the same. Just that the language was different, and I had to cope up with it. Other than the language, it was all fine. The co-actors were supportive. They always spoke in Telugu and used to joke around. I always wanted to know all their jokes and they ensured that I understood every bit of it which in turn helped me in understanding Telugu language.
Sandy: Somehow, ‘Jaanu’ couldn’t create the same magic that ‘96’ had created. What are your thoughts on it?
Gouri: The soul was the same but it’s impossible to recreate the magic once it’s created elsewhere. I remember speaking to my director Prem sir if we really want to go ahead with the remake though I was really honored to have gotten the opportunity to dabble in the same role that I played in ‘96’. He told me to be confident and not worry about the result.
I did have my apprehensions, but I moved ahead. If you remember the scene wherein, I put my hand on the lead actor’s chest and hug each other, though it’s a very simple sequence, there was an unknown magic in it. I always believe that recreating something is being too ambitious as comparisons will come into picture. Nevertheless, the film did not do well like how it did in Tamil, but it was my entry into Tollywood, and I am happy that I reprised the role with my best efforts.
Sandy: Being a Malayali, you acted in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. You seem to be the Young Pan Indian star that we have got, ha-ha. How do you want to manage your career ahead?
Gouri: Oh, ha-ha that’s an interesting tag that you’ve given me, Sandy. Thank you! I basically don’t want to have any plan as until now I’ve been going with the flow and taking up work that resonates with me. I go with gut instinct and if the role has a personal connect with me, I tend to accept it. I am not keeping restrictions nor de-marketing my arena. I am open to different kinds of films.
I am just establishing my range and would want to act in different kind of films. I believe in doing my homework, so I tend to watch a lot of films while at home and try to be aware of multi-language cinema. I like to research and gain knowledge about films. I want to manage my career with each passing day as it comes. I do everything on a personal level and do not have any affiliation with a PR agency, as it is organically dealt by my dad. Until now, I didn’t have to take desperate chances as the opportunities kept coming my way.
I personally believe that whatever is meant to you shall always come to you. Manifestation is the key and when your zeal and aim grow a notch higher, things will come to you no matter what! I am happy to be a part of three industries currently and I would love to continue working in them with some fine brand of cinema.
Sandy: Let’s talk about ‘Master’! Playing a role opp. Vijay is a dream for major actors and you’ve managed to do that early. How was it working with him?
Gouri: When you are a part of a Vijay film, the reach that you get is enormous. I was called for the role of Savitha and Lokesh sir is an intelligent director. I liked the approach and the character, and I am happy that I decided to work in this film. Vijay Sir is an extremely dedicated actor, and I learnt many things whilst on the sets.
He is a man of few words but once he opens, he hits the right chords. He wanted to know my journey and encouraged me. Vijay sir is very down to earth and the best example to this would be a time wherein his presence wasn’t needed for a sequence of mine, but he stood there and was near me till I got the shot done. This may seem a small gesture, but it is a great one!
Sandy: Your role in ‘Master’ got you enough buzz and has catapulted you to the next level. The audience has accepted you as a talented actress and you are growing your stature as an actress par excellence.
Gouri: Thank you, Sandy! Yes, while ‘96’ gave me a beautiful debut, ‘Master’ has given me a wider reach. Even when I went to North India, people recognized me and told me that they saw me in ‘Master’. Vijay sir’s fans are present everywhere and unabashedly, I am proud to say that I am a part of ‘Master’.
Sandy: You once again set the whistles blowing with your presence in Dhanush starrer ‘Karnan’. You seem to be a hit machine, Gouri. 🙂
Gouri: Ha-ha! ‘Karnan’ has registered the best openings for Dhanush. It’s overwhelming to see the audience loving not only commercial cinema but also sensitive subjects. It only shows the progress of the audience mindset. Hands down, this has been my most challenging role and it’s just not about scenes but the work that went behind making ‘Karnan’ is humungous. We shot it amidst tough conditions, and we had many shackles to break but eventually we did!
Maari sir is a genius filmmaker, and he dealt the subject in a way that it wasn’t like spoon feeding the audience. No viewer was in a right frame of mind after watching ‘Karnan’. I was also going through some personal challenges amidst the shoot of ‘Karnan’ but it taught me endurance. Being a part of this film made me realize that I can endure pain and face challenges with élan. ‘Karnan’ is a cult film.
Sandy: Your another film titled ‘Anugraheethan Anthony’ released just before the 2nd wave took over, but it did well at the box office. You seem to only have hits aligned with you, ha-ha. What goes into picking a story or nodding yes for a film?
Gouri: After ‘96’ I had way too many offers coming my way and I had a foresight that people might typecast me. It was indeed a huge boon to be a part of the film as it gave me one in a million opportunity. I took my time to sign films as rarely do I rush into doing something. Whenever I rushed into a decision, it means I badly want to be a part of it. ‘Anugraheethan Anthony’ is a fine film, and it feels great to know that people thronged the cinemas and showered their love. The timing of the release was perfect (just before the second wave came into existence) and the film went on to become a big hit.
People do advise me, but I have a very decent and a nice approach towards choosing a film. The first thing is that I see it as a viewer, whether I would pay a ticket and go watch this film. I must get a feeling to resonate to the subject and sometimes take a step back and see if I wouldn’t be a part of it, how would I feel?! If it garners my interest, then half the battle is won, ha-ha.
Technically, I see the crew behind the film and if it’s a strong crew, my decision turns out to be positive. Because, I have seen situations where the subjects were very good but poor handling cost the films big time. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and getting a good team together makes it easier.
Quick Shot Round:
- Your biggest regret: (smiles) I do not have any regrets but just to name one, I haven’t been practicing dance for over three years and I should get back to it
- When idle, Gouri indulges in: Films! I watch films regularly
- If not an actress, you’d been? A journalist for sure. It is my ambition and I do see myself in that field too
- Favorite actor/actress: Kamal Hassan sir and Revarhi Ma’am
- If you had to barter your life for one day, with whom would it be and why? Kamal Hassan sir. I would like to be in his brain and see how he thinks because his subjects are totally different
- Go-to holiday destination: I love being at the beaches. Gokarna is one of them
- Given a chance to change something in your role, what would you change? Interesting question! Recreating Jaanu was challenging so I would ask for a superpower given a chance and would do it the same way in both the languages. Especially the fever sequence
- Close friends in the industry: Varsha Bolamma, Arjun Das, Santosh Shobhan, Shantanu master
- In a word about the following people: Vijay Sethupathi – Humorous, Vijay – Gentleman, Dhanush – Professional
- App that you use the most on your phone: Reddit
- Food you binge on: My mom’s cooked food and also Dahi Puri
- Favorite genre of cinema: I like serious romance, so you can call it Romantic Drama?
- Imagine being stuck in a lift with two film personalities, who would you want them to be and why? Such a thought-provoking question, ha-ha! I would say Vikram sir (I met him once) and Revathi Ma’am
- One good thing and one bad thing about the film industry: Good is that it creates more chances to showcase talent and the power of cinema is amazing as it has a wider reach. The bad thing is it can get highly competitive
Sandy: Recently you suffered from COVID-19 but came out of it. How distressing was it? How did you cope up with it as it’s one of the toughest things to be aligned with in today’s time?
Gouri: Yes, I was affected by it, and it was totally distressing. All of us are suffering due to this pandemic and things aren’t easy. But I never got into over-thinking and kept a standard regime for myself.
I managed to strike a fine balance with my routine. I kept watching films and read books. I did everything I could in a certain time frame and that helped me push myself up and kept my sanity in check. It’s all in the way you think so I just had positive thoughts on my mind and kept telling myself that I can fight it with élan.
Sandy: What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Gouri: I have a Tamil film opposite Vinoth Kishan. I am working under Gold Box Entertainment’s (Sushmitha Konidela Production) untitled film opposite Santosh Sobhan. It is a different and a happy kind of a film. I also have one cameo role in a big bilingual Tamil/Telugu film which I cannot divulge much about. I am in the final discussions for a Malayalam film with Sreenath Bhasi. I am having quite a few films lined up and I am excited about them.
Sandy: Though you are in a way new to the filmdom, but you have a success rate that is way higher than many other people in the industry. What is the piece of advice you’d like to give to the extremely newcomers that are vying to enter films?
Gouri: I think without passion there is nothing that one can achieve. I have seen a pattern where people have given up their dreams after some time and that’s where you would miss accomplishing your goals. It is very important to do homework and the process is very personal for each one of us. One needs to figure out what they are good at and work on improving that side of talent.
Even if you don’t have opportunities coming your way, keep hitting it hard until something works out. Always have your door open and make good decisions. Sometimes, I do feel bad when people want to be part of films but not somehow, they don’t get it and that’s the bad part about the industry. Trusting yourselves is the key and you need to be ready. Like, I am new to the Telugu industry but I’m learning Telugu and making myself ready. I liked to be empowered and having this attitude would take us all to higher places.
Editor’s note: It was a pleasure getting to interact with Gouri G Kishan and bring out her story to all of you. Here’s wishing Gouri a blockbuster journey ahead, filled with claps and whistles! 🙂
Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)
Follow Sandy @blabwithsandy
Follow Gouri @gourigkofficial