CHENNAI: From being scared to stay away from home for shows when she was in school to starting her own theatre and talent management company, actor Sreedevi Gengaiah has come a long way. “I used to cry because I was terrified of being away from my parents,” laughs Devi, who recently made her mark on the big screen in Shankar’s Nanban as Jiiva’s sister.
After having worked as an actress with popular Tamil theatre group Koothupattarai for over 12 years, she started Devriksha, an acting school, in 2010.
“I used to recommend people to directors who were looking for trained actors without charging anyone, just out of goodwill. My friends made me realise that I needed to help myself also at one point; so I started the school,” she says.
She explains how it works. “I train each actor for four months in various aspects including voice modulation, understanding the navarasas, mind control and body language.” She adds that they are trained in Silambam and dance too, apart from how to work with directors and the crew on sets.
At the end of the four-month training period, the students stage a play, after which they are scouted by various directors. “I have had my students act in movies like Ko and Porali. Some of them are acting in director Sasi Kumar’s film right now,” Devi beams like a proud mother.
She emphasises that though the majority of the training is for stage acting, the student actors are put through rigorous coaching to prepare themselves for acting in front of the camera as well. “Stage acting is what is important because once you get over the fear of acting in front of a live audience, acting in front of a camera will be a breeze,” she explains.
With over 15 boys inevitably registering for each batch, Devi must be a happy lady, but the lack of girls in her troupe upsets her. “I only get two or three female actors in each batch and it makes me angry,” she says, visibly livid. “Girls believe that just by being beautiful, they can land acting jobs, but they don’t realise that all they’ll get is two or three films at the most,” she adds.
The next batch of Devriksha’s acting course will start next week. For details, contact 9941446543.