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Glamour to me is insatiable beauty: Actress Maya Nelluri

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 • Telugu Comments

Maya Nelluri, the budding acting talent, is poised to take off on the big screen. After debuting in 'Ranarangam', she went on to act in 'RED' and 'It's Time To Party'. Soon, she will be seen in 'Thimmarusu', which hits the screens on July 30.

In this interview, Maya, who is also a passionate painter, takes us through her background, what acting and painting mean to her, the kind of roles she loves to play, her taken on playing glamorous roles, her up-and-coming movies (especially 'Krishna Ghattam'), and more. 

You took an acting course at Sydney College. How did the acting course help you?
 
The course helped a lot with building my confidence to perform in front of others. We had to do many practical exercises in front of the class and tutors. We were taught techniques and critiqued on our performances so it was a very useful exercise before getting in front of the camera for real.

Where did you learn hip-hop? Does knowing such a dance form help you as an actor?
 
I went to dancing classes while I was growing up in New Zealand. I am not sure if it helps with acting as such but it does make me more malleable to performing other kinds of dances on stage or in films.

You were brought up in NZ. What influences were prominent in your formative years? How did they shape your artistic outlook?

Although I grew up in New Zealand, I was lucky to have my family and extended family there too. We were all very close while growing up, so I have very fond memories of time spent with aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. It helped me stay in touch with my Indian roots. Much of my art is inspired by Indian culture, architecture, and mythology. The techniques though are heavily influenced by the vast exposure I’ve had to artists worldwide due to my upbringing in the Pacific.

What is your first love? Acting or painting?
 
It’s very difficult to pick one but currently, I am focusing on acting.

What kind of challenges have you faced in the film industry so far? And how have you sought to overcome them?

Like any other creative field, it is very tough to figure out how to enter the industry and also how to get into the right route to become successful. I started as a journalist, so I was lucky enough to learn about the industry and know a few people who pointed me in the right direction when I decided to pursue acting.

Are you open to essaying glamorous roles? What does glamour mean to you?

I am open to essaying any role that gives me the scope to act in a sensible film. Glamour to me is insatiable beauty.

As a Telugu-speaking non-Indian, how are you seen by filmmakers in Tollywood?

I think a lot of people don’t know that I grew up overseas. We used to speak Telugu at home and watched Telugu movies all the time while growing up, so my ability to speak Telugu and my knowledge about Telugu films are comparable to someone who grew up in India. It does however help when a project needs me to travel overseas on short notice because thankfully New Zealanders are readily accepted entry almost everywhere in the world.

In the 7 years since you started out in the art scene, what changes have you come to see, especially in Hyderabad?

In my experience, the art scene was and is largely dominated by galleries, some curators, and collectors. There are still some organizations and individuals who support upcoming artists. However, after last year there is an opportunity for even the lesser-known artists to grow. Due to Covid, online art exhibitions have started becoming popular. It’s also why my current exhibition called TRANCE is live and online right now on Stargaze.ai.

What differences do you find in the way your artworks are seen and perceived in Australia and India?

It’s similar in India and overseas – it’s mainly run by galleries and curators. If you go through formal education in fine art then you will have a slightly easier entry into the market. As for artworks themselves, my paintings are heavily influenced by Indian mythology so they are seen as rarer overseas. It does give my work an edge in my displays outside of India.

You have done a painting of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir. What inspired you to do it?

It is quite an iconic moment in history so I was inspired to paint it. I’m also very happy with the response it has received.

Since your debut in 'Ranarangam', what kind of offers have you received from Tollywood makers?

I am grateful to director Sudheer Varma sir for casting me in 'Ranarangam'. It was my introduction to acting professionally in a feature film, so I learned a lot during that process. After that, I got quite a few offers but I only felt a couple would steer my career in the right direction. I opted for those.

You have acted in the web series 'Anaganaga'. Do you find the OTT space and the web series format more interesting than the theatre/film format?

A story, when told interestingly, is great in any format. With the advent of OTT and because of the many lockdowns, online shows and films have garnered a much larger viewership than before. It is great for everyone involved, including me, because it allows so many more projects to take off. If given a choice, I would go by the subject, scope of the project, and my role in it, rather than deciding based on whether it will be released in a theatre or OTT.

Are you playing a village girl in Chaitanya Krishna's upcoming movie?

Yes, the film is titled 'Krishna Ghattam'. It is a village drama which has come out quite well. It has a really good combination of love, comedy, old-school charm, and relatability. It is also my first lead role in a feature film! So I am quite excited. I am eagerly looking forward to feedback from the industry gurus and audiences about the film and myself.

You will also be seen in the upcoming film 'Thimmarusu'. Tell us about that.
 
The film is releasing on July 30th, so I am looking forward to seeing it with the rest of the world. It features a cast that’s known for amazing performances so I’m grateful that director Sharan sir picked me to be a part of the project. Can’t wait for the end of July!

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