Bollywood calling

Bollywood calling

Bollywood calling

“I always wanted to be an actor.” She is in the midst of the last leg of her shoot for her Hindi debut. And make no mistake, she is working in the remake of the 1983 love-drama Katha and essays the role originally enacted by Dipti Naval. The new movie is directed by Khalid Mohammed. Yes, Sandalwood actress Sharmiela Mandre is essaying this role and she was shortlisted from among hundreds of girls because in Mohammed’s words, “she has the ability to look both glamorous and realistic.”

When asked if movies were something she always wanted to be in, pat comes the reply, “Yes, it was a childhood dream and I guess it was inevitable that I become an actress. I debuted in Sajni, which was a home production since at that time I had already started getting a lot of offers to do Kannada movies.” This was in 2008, and she was only 17 then, and followed it up with movies like Krishna, Ee Bandhana, Navagraha, Shivamani, Venkata in Sankata, Swayamvara and Dhan Dhana Dhan among many others.

“I started young, but I think it’s been a great experience. Even though there is a small part of me that wonders how college life could have been, I have always been clear that acting is my priority. In fact, it was completely my decision to choose acting even though my parents weren’t keen on the idea and insisted that I finish college. Which is why I completed my studies through correspondence.”

Ask her about her best Kannada movie to date, and she says she really cannot pick any one film. “The Kannada industry has given me so much and I have had a million experiences. However, I can never forget the day I saw myself on screen during the special first show of Sajni. It was the best moment of my life as I had always dreamed of seeing my name on the credits and it had finally come true. It was an overwhelming and extremely emotional experience.”

Apart from Kannada, Sharmiela has also acted in Tamil (in the 2012 movie Mirattal) and Telugu (in the 2013 movie Kevvu Keka) cinema and says that she is content doing good work. “I believe in the adage that if you love what you do, you will never have to work a single day in your life. And films are really what I want to do. Also, doing movies in other languages was something outside my comfort zone, but the experience helped me learn about other cultures.”

Naturally, our conversation veers towards her Bollywood debut that has got her all excited. “The auditions were held in Mumbai, and when I went there, I saw at least 200 girls and I felt quite disheartened. Nevertheless, I gave my screen test and returned to Bengaluru. I got a call in the next couple of days asking me to go back for a photo shoot and more screen tests, and I was selected. I was ecstatic as I had honestly not expected it. Of course, there was a lot of pressure, and the minute I was offered the role, I had a lot of people telling me that it would be difficult. I have done my best and we wrap up shooting in the next few weeks.”

As an actor, Sharmiela feels that her perception of cinema has changed over time and says that she has stopped planning her future. “I take each day as it comes, and my intention is to work on all genres and do roles that challenge me as an actor. I think I am done with doing ‘eye candy’ roles. I feel I am now ready to experiment.”
After shooting for Katha, the actress is all set to work in her next untitled Tamil film, and is also wrapping up her Kannada movie Mumtaz. “This is an intense love story, a 2015 adaptation of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan’s love story. It is directed by newcomer Murali who has a fresh and modern take on the subject. In fact, this is the first time I am working on a set where 90 per cent of the crew is between the age of 22 and 28, and we have all been able to connect with each other fabulously. The second half of the movie takes an interesting turn and is something not seen before, so we are hoping the audience likes it.”

Despite having her hands full,  Sharmiela says once she is done with her shoot, she is a normal person at home and loves chilling out with her family and friends. “I am non-filmy in real life and completely different from my screen life,” says the self-confessed foodie who swears by her daily workout to remain in shape.
In her free time, the actress says she watches movies back to back, and also reads a lot. “I love swimming, dancing and singing, though I am not trained professionally. Maybe I will sing for my films some day.”
Bindu Gopal Rao

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