Hello, folks! In this week’s #blabwithsandy, we have the young and beautiful, Shriya Kontham with us! Shriya made a scintillating debut with Nani’s ‘Gang Leader’, which brought her some wonderful accolades with regards to her acting. Let’s wait on further and dive into an exciting blab I had with her:
Sandy: Hey, Shriya! Hope you are doing as well as your performances.
Shriya: Hi Sandy! Hahaha, yes indeed. Thank you.
Sandy: Could you let us know about your background?
Shriya: I am born and brought up in Hyderabad. Since my childhood, I have been interested towards films. While I was in my 6th grade, I did theatre and had an opportunity to be a part of a play that had Vijay Devarakonda as the lead.
When I saw him in ‘Life is Beautiful’, I was like amazed that I worked with him, and he is now seen on the big screen. These may seem small, but such is my love towards acting and the movies.
Most of my family members are either doctors or have their own businesses. I always felt that films might not be my career option but during my 12th, whilst my exams, we got to know about auditions at Sekhar Kammula’s office. They were looking for child actors and I went to the auditions with my mom. Somehow, that day I had given the worst audition ever! Mom was inside the room, and I knew that I had given a very bad performance, hahaha!
Sandy: Sounds like an interesting start to your film career, haha! So, how did you land up playing an important role in ‘Gang Leader’?
Shriya: A child artists’ coordinator saw me and that lead to me visiting the auditions at Vikram sir’s office. I did not care about the audition but all I wanted was to go there and click a picture with him and come back. I went and I got to see ten other girls lined up for the auditions. I got to know that they were searching for a suitable girl for 2-3 months. I did not think that I would get the role that they were looking for, instead I was fine to play any role in the film.
I was sitting at a corner, and I also had my glasses on with a simple white shirt. Suddenly, I see Vikram sir sitting next to me, and he started talking to me. He asked me about my studies and examination schedule. I told him that I had my exams approaching next month. He then asked me to meet him tomorrow by coming in a semi-traditional outfit. Next day, I go there, and I see PC Sreeram sir which got me nervous. I generally speak a lot in English, but I had to converse in Telugu for the auditions. I did my best and PC sir conveyed I was good.
I had to cry and emote myself in that audition sequence and it was based on a brother-sister relationship. In my real life, I have a brother, thus I made sure to act thinking about my brother and gave my best to let the tear drops come out. The first take was just okay but the second time it came right out on point. That was the best audition ever for me and the same evening, I was confirmed for that part.
Sandy: How was the experience of working with the stellar star cast that the film carried?
Shriya: I didn’t get nervous working around the well-known actors who are big in the industry. Sharanya Ma’am was pleasant, and I really loved her work in Raghuvaran B.Tech. She is very talented artist and she made me feel comfortable.
She told me not be take anything for granted and asked me to always put my guard up no matter what! Her assistant used to bring her a chair to sit, and she made sure that we too got the chairs to sit. This shows her nature, and I thoroughly had a great time interacting with her.
Lakshmi garu is such a senior artist with whom I got along well. She taught me to convey my feelings whenever I am not comfortable with anything or anyone. Her mantra is to go with the flow and enjoy life. I really admire her for making me learn things which are useful in life. Priyanka Arul Mohan was the lead actress, and we became quite close during the shoot.
Sandy: Working with Nani in your debut film itself is an icing on the cake. Could you share some memorable moments whilst your shoot with Nani?
Shriya: The first two days of my shoot, he wasn’t there on the sets. On the third day, I called my friends onto the sets and was showing them around. Suddenly, I see Nani walking to his caravan. During the lunch time, I went to meet him, and I must say, he is an amazing person.
Nani is down to earth and humble. I remember, once whilst our shoot break, we all were getting bored, and he joined us in playing Bingo on tissue papers. He made sure the environment was always welcoming to each of us.
Sandy: How was the reception to the film and especially to your act by the audience and your known folks?
Shriya: I wasn’t part of the promotions as I’d left to the US by then for my studies. During my 9th grade itself, I made up my mind to pursue engineering in the US and I got admission into the Boston University. The moment I finished shooting for ‘Gang Leader’, I left to the US.
I still remember my mom calling me up and telling me about the reception that our film received. I got a few offers too, but I couldn’t accept them due to my unavailability. Some of the offers were not worthy while others were but I wasn’t in India, thus could not take up those opportunities. Once Covid struck, I came back to India and that’s when I understood that one needs to build and maintain contacts in the industry to move ahead.
Sandy: A few words about director Vikram K Kumar.
Shriya: Vikram sir is an amazing person, Sandy. Even after two and a half years of Gang Leader’s release, he is still generous, and he keeps giving me the best advice. He is a person who receives people well. Even if you meet him after a 10-year gap, he would be the same person and greet with immense excitement.
During the shoot, there were couple of occasions wherein I got the take right only in my third or fourth take. Because of that, the senior artists had to do their part again, but Vikram sir was never angry or dejected. He used to pick up the mic and ask me to buckle up and smile. He told me to complete my studies and come back to films as a lead actress. He is keen on my growth as an actress and this shows his nature, which is good!
Sandy: Talking about your education, what are you up to currently?
Shriya: I am balancing my studies alongside my acting career. I am basically pursuing my Business Administration graduation course. It is a 4-year course at the Boston University. I am in my 3rd year now and planning to do my majors in Finance. The thing I regret the most is not being able to be a part of ‘Gang Leader’ promotions. I do feel sad even now but can’t help! This incident makes me feel that acting is where I want to be, and I want to do so much more in this creative field.
My mom and dad have been totally supportive to my decisions. The good thing about my course is that I can take a break in between and re-join it again. My dad encouraged me to take a year off if I really want to pursue acting and my plan is to give films the best, I can offer in this break time. I do need a degree for sure and I shall complete it, but I am game to pursue opportunities in films as well!
Quick Shot Round:
- Biggest fear: Falling from a building!
- When Idle, what does Shriya indulge in? I call up my friends and bother them, hahaha!
- Most used App on phone: Netflix
- ‘Gang Leader’ in a word: Life-changer
- If not actress, where do you see yourself? I see myself working in a firm as a manager
- Imagine being stuck in a lift and you have two film personalities tagged along with you! Who would you want those two to be? Dulquer Salmaan and Vijay Devarakonda. They would be total fun talk with!
- Hyderabad: Home
- Most memorable incident while shooting for ‘Gang Leader’: We were in Delhi and during shoot breaks, I, Vikram sir, and team were glued on to watching IPL. It was total fun!
- Best compliment you received for your performance: Three months ago, ‘Sreekaram’ movie director Kishore sir messaged me on Instagram saying he was very impressed with my performance. I was so happy because the film has released two years back and it was a pleasure to read his compliment
- Dream role: I would like to be a part of period films like Magadheera, Arundhati, etc. I love those set pieces and the characters of that genre
- Favorite Actors: Vijay Devarakonda, Dulquer Salmaan, Ram Charan, and Varun Tej
Sandy: What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Shriya: My next release would be as a lead actress in a film titled ‘Love’. It is a romcom drama with some twists and turns. The moment I heard the script, I somehow got connected to it and even the film’s director Harsha gave me liberty to spin around the role in my own way. I am excited to see the reception for this film. And I am not in a hurry to sign films. I would like to wait for good scripts to come my way.
Editor’s note: It was a wonderful experience blabbing with the young and vibrant actress Shriya Kontham. Wishing Shriya a fun-filled cinematic journey ahead, filled with claps and awards!
Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)
Follow Sandy @blabwithsandy
Follow Shriya @kshriyaa