Sruthi Hariharan still can’t believe that the Kannada film Lucia actually happened to her. “That’s the film that made a career for me in South India,” says this actress, who’s the heroine in this week’s release, Nibunan. A graduate in business management, it wasn’t that long ago when Sruthi was content to be part of the background dancers in Kannada films.
Her training in Bharatanatyam meant that some influential filmmakers noticed her, and before long, the Malayalam movie, Film Company, came her way. “I suppose you could say it was good enough material for a newcomer,” she says. And then, happened the film that changed her fortunes around: Lucia. “Director Pawan Kumar picked me from among a lot of actresses who had evinced interest in the part. It was sheer luck, I guess,” she says.
Sruthi, whose mother tongue is Tamil, grew up in Karnataka, and for long now, she has been hoping for a return. And that’s come in the form of Arun Vaidyanathan’s Nibunan. “I loved the treatment in his Kalyana Samayam Sadham,” she says. “I definitely didn’t expect to be called for Nibunan, a film in which I play a painter, and the mother of a child. That this is Arjun’s 150th film is the icing.”
Sruthi is convinced that Nibunan will be a special film for her. “My character has been shaped beautifully. It is of great importance to the film, and I’m the backbone of Arjun’s character, who’s on a thankless job,” she says. Arjun plays an investigative officer, who has to be on the alert always. “I thank Arun for bringing the best out of me.”
She has come into Tamil cinema in a big way, considering she also has another release slotted next month: Balaji Sakthivel’s Ra Ra Rajasekara. “He wasn’t a director who’d sit behind the monitor. He was always on the move, and liked to watch us act by being alongside us,” she says. “This story, like some of the director’s others, is based on a real-life incident. I play a village belle who thinks that love can happen only once in life.” The film, she says, is set in a village, and in that sense, she says it’s totally different from Nibunan.
It’s still early days but her small regret is how a Tamil independent film she was part of—Nila—didn’t get a theatrical release. “But that’s the way things are. I guess it all balances out at the end,” she says, citing that Lucia was a crowd-funded film that made her career.
Does she also look forward to getting offers from Telugu films? She isn’t sure. “I’m not sure if I can play a heroine who’s dancing around the hero,” she says. “If the part is good enough, I don’t mind being a part of any film, regardless of the language.”