A degree in literature, professional training in Kathak dancing, an active interest in philanthropic endeavours and did we mention reigning south superstar?
Shriya Saran has been the face of south Indian cinema for quite some time but four years ago she decided to try new horizons. Shriya started her Hollywood career with the American-Indian co-production, 'The Other End of the Line'. This utterly romantic chick-flick, also starring Jesse Metcalfe and Anupam Kher, launched Shriya onto the English film scene.
Unlike the regular Indo-American films where the story reloves around a NRI family, this film had Shriya playing a call-centre employee who falls in love with one of the callers. Their romance goes through ups and downs and ends with her prince charming flying down to her. Shriya’s lip-lock with Jesse had more than a few tongues wagging and she soon signed on 'Cooking with Stella'.
Playing Tannu in the film, Shriya dove into her character as the humble nanny with a conscience. It was a stark contrast to the glamorous roles she is famous for in Bollywood and the south. In fact, she was one of the first to introduce the size zero concept in south Indian cinema. Whereas most leading ladies of Telugu and Tamil cinema a decade ago were known for their voluptuous curves, Shriya broke the mould with her unconventional body shape, and a keen sense of fashion. She proved that her style was what the new age required by working with the biggies like Rajinikanth, Nagarjuna, Vikram and Mohanlal.
Cooking with Stella did relatively well at the box office and had given Shriya recognition as a serious actress. Arriving in a shaded mint green and golden work sari at the premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival in Atlantic City, Shriya wowed the onlookers with her characteristic desi glam. Shriya noted that this film was indeed very different from the roles she plays in Indian cinema and said, “This movie, when I read the script I fell in love with it. The character Tanu was beautiful and very well edged out. It’s different, the film is very different. You really can’t have a song and dance in Cooking with Stella.”
Talking about her character, she says, “My character’s name is Tanu. She is naïve, she is simple, she is a small town girl trying to fit in a big city… she brings in a lot of moral values… she finds it really hard to fit into this world because her world is really black and white… and in the end (it’s about) how she changes.”
Her latest English film, Deepa Mehta’s 'Midnight’s Children' has been the most controversial of her Hollywood endeavours. In this Canadian-American film, Shriya dons a ‘slum girl’ avatar while playing Parvati.
Speaking of her role in the film she says, “I play Parvati, a pivotal role.”
When it came to events surrounding the movie, Shriya once again showed us why she is known as the southern diva. Turning up in a mehendi green sari and navy blouse at the BFI London Film Festival where the movie was being premiered, this Haridwar girl made many heads turn. Again at the Toronto Film Festival 2012 premiere, she walked onto the red carpet wearing a flattering pink lehenga and choli. Once a diva, always a diva — Tollywood or Hollywood. Wotsay?