What is your character in Leader?
The character that I play in the film is a very lovable heroine named Archana. She is the daughter of a politician and is the CEO of a news channel. She is involved in media as well as politics. She is actually very much like me in real life. She is very botherable, emotional and down-to-earth, but on the outside she portrays to be very strong, independent and righteous. I could not have asked for a better role in my first film. Because she is a Kammula heroine, who is given importance.
Tell us about your film Veera, the Ravi Teja starrer.
In Veera, I am playing a traditional girl.
Is your role performance-oriented or glamour-based?
I think Shekar garu has done a very good job in creating a role where both glamour and performance exist in their place. I did get a chance to dance for one of the songs. This is my first attempt in acting. Although I have done my training at Anupam Kher's acting school, because Telugu is an alien language to me, I had this barrier as well.
Usually, Shekar Kammula's heroines have a traditional look. How about you?
Even when I am going for Indian wear, I am not very different from when I wear Western wear.
What is the significance of your role in Leader?
I play the love interest of the Chief Minister. I play a vital role in helping him change the way he thinks. When the turning point comes, I am there to play the catalyst.
How have the songs come up in the film. Did you enjoy dancing to the tunes of Mickey J Meyer?
Avunana kadana.. is a beautiful song between my character and the hero's Hey CM! is a jazzy number. Mickey brings a very unique sound and his sound is very similar to that of AR Rehman. There are patriotic, love and a jazzy number as well as an instrumental. There is something for everyone to enjoy.
How did you get the chance to act in the film?
I was coming back from the gym one day, when one co-coordinator called me saying somehow Shekar garu found my pictures good and thought I fit the role of Archana. I was not prepared to give any audition. Initially, I was resistant but finally I gave the audition. I was flown to Hyderabad the next day and met him in person. He screen-tested me and I was okayed for the role in minutes. It was quite shocking for me because I was more prepared for a rejection.I was extremely happy and it was also my birthday.
I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift.
How do you find Tollywood?
The Telugu industry has welcomed me in such a way that i am not thinking of straying from it any time. Initially, I had plans of joining Hindi films, but when I got this offer, there was no way I could resist it. Especially, this particular film being from AVM, a launch with Mr. Rana, and directed by a brilliant filmmaker. Of course, I have also been offered a substantial role.
I must say that the Telugu people have touched my heart. They are hospitable, welcoming and genuine.
How was it working with Rana? What kind of a person is he?
I think he shocked every body. He naturally has leadership skills. In the film, he is portraying his actual self.
How did you find Rana as an actor? How do you rate him as an actor?
He has done a phenomenal job in his first film. He has played it with conviction. He has done homework, research and preparation. I think it will be obvious to you when you watch it on screen.
Regarding rating Rana, I feel it's really hard to rate an actor, because he always keeps growing and evolving as an actor. But for a first film, Rana has put his heart and soul into the character. I think I will rate him at ten!.
Who all is the film targeted at?
It's not made for a particular type of audience. It's not restricted to a limited audience. Ultimately, this film is about a young man fighting through his challenges in his career, struggling to balance his feelings. There is music to enjoy and more. It is an amazing film.
Have you signed any films as yet?
At the moment, I am waiting for the release of Veera. I haven't committed to any projects yet. I am open to doing substantive role that aren't so commercial-glamorous, and that can make an impact.
How was it facing the camera?
I was bit nervous, but my Co-director made my life easier. The language barrier, I was told, it's just about understanding the sound of Telugu. Tana told me to calm down, not to worry. I am getting dubbed in the film. Scene-wise, once the camera went on and everybody went silent, I was able to work to the best of my ability.
How was it working with Kammula?
He has a lot of knowledge that he shared with me. He brought a lot of energy to the sets, motivating me and acting as a confidence-booster. He inspired me to perform to the best of my ability. He is fun-loving, dedicated, hard working and focused.
Growing up in the US, I heard about him through Happy Days. Acting with him was a total blast. I never dreamt that I would get a chance to work with him. I had only heart horror stories about directors that they are extremely hard, rude. But, he made the whole process very comfortable. He was very soft and I trusted his vision. He was humble, sweet, who brings a radiance.
Do you think Leader will have an influence on politicians who may watch it?
In fact, to be very honest, I am still learning about Indian politics. Amdist the political turmoil, it could not have come at a more right time. It will arouse a hope among the people. Leaders don't have to be looked in bad light. This is an atypical kind of film. It has other aspects like drama and light bits.
There must have been funny moments during the shooting? Can you share the moments you most enjoyed?
I bonded with Priya on the sets. We shared a lot of funny moments that came to happen all along.