“Acting Is Like Meditation,” Says Sruthi Jayan On Playing Saroja In ZEE5 Original G.O.D
It’s not an everyday phenomenon that one attains commercial and critical success with their first film itself. But once in a while, the world meets such talent. When we do, we make sure to hold on to that gem – who can win our heart in every frame. Malayalam danseuse-turned-actress, Sruthi Jayan is one such newbie who sent waves right from her first film. After four successful projects back home, she will be making her digital and Telugu debut with the ZEE5 Original Gods Of Dharmapuri. Ahead of the big release, the actor pours our her heart in this candid conversation. Read the edited excerpts of the interview below.
Q. Having been a popular classical dancer, what drove you towards acting?
A. I don’t differentiate between acting and dancing. We are actors while dancing too. I come from a renowned institution called Kalakshetra. I trained there for six years and then worked there as a teacher. My full-time profession and passion was dancing. I never tried for movies, it just happened. One of my friends showed my pictures to the director of my first film, Angamaly Dairies. They called me for auditions and I was confirmed after an hour. For me, it was a miraculous thing. Now, I’m just going with the flow. That’s it.
Q. Angamaly Diaries is a huge cinematic milestone…
A. Yes. I come from Tamil cinema, but Tamil, Telugu or wherever I go now, I have a brand name. I get all the respect like “She is from Angamaly Diaries“. For me, as a beginner, it’s great luck to be a part of such films. All my Malayalam movies are hits. I guess I have just been lucky.
Q. What was the one thing that made you say yes to G.O.D?
A. It was the character. My close friend, Venkat Rahul was part of the crew and he introduced me to the team. They were searching for a particular character. He said if you want to know more, just come and meet them. And the next things I knew was that they booked the flight for me. Anish (Kuruvilla, the director) said when he saw me for the first time, he decided this is Saroja. When they narrated the script to me, it was fantastic. As an artiste, you have a thirst for acting, to get to perform. This character allowed that. I heard the story, the characterisation of Saroja and said yes immediately. I loved the character. And I did my maximum to do justice.
Q. Malayalam comes naturally to you, but how was it filming in Telugu?
A. It’s a period drama. The language isn’t proper Telugu, it has the Rayalaseema slang. It’s something that I had never heard before. I had two days of costume trials to get into the character. I had to study the dialogues. Only Raj Deepak Shetty and I were from different zones. But I felt comfortable with Anish. Whatever I was expecting from the director, he gave me all the freedom and confidence. “You don’t worry about the dialogues,” he would say. Another name that I have to mention is that of Karthik, the writer. He was there with me throughout, during the shoot, the travel and the dubbing. They were trying for other dubbing artistes. But I told Anish that I want to try this. Because I gave life to this character. I don’t know if they’ll do justice to her.
Q. While the language is different, your character is also very different. Can you tell us something about it?
A. Saroja is the soul of the story. She hails from a poor family who comes to Dharmapuri with her husband and two kids. They have hopes for a good life. It starts with how she persists to manage life and has dreams for her family and her sons. She is always worried about the future. She is always hoping to have good food for the family, good studies for the children. She only wants what’s needed. Saroja is basically living for her kids. But eventually, they turn out to be like their father. Her life is full of tragedy. In the show, she rarely ever laughs or smiles. Everyone changes but Saroja never changes. While others go to the dark shades, Saroja doesn’t. I liked the character very much. She just wants to be calm and quiet. But it never happens.
Q. You play a mother to two men, who are much older to you. How was that experience?
A. I had to do a lot of homework. I had to change my body language. Saroja ages more than double my age. Although, I enjoyed that. I want to be a proper actor and I want to perform. So I never cared about being old or being a mother to two kids. I just want to perform well to showcase my talent. Even after a long time, one should be like ‘okay, Sruthi can do this’. I always want to hear that, my talent should be showcased.
Q. In a family of grey men, you seem to be the one to see things in a different light. How did you develop this conflict in your character?
A. Basically, I am a classical dancer and we play lots of mythological characters in our performances. That’s where I got my experience, maybe. The practice of classical dance and abhinaya that we do helped me to portray such a character. As a dancer, I do practise. The character of Saroja stayed with me for three months.
Q. Apart from lessons in Telugu, what did you learn from the director and the seasoned actors in G.O.D?
A. Every scene is a learning process for me. I am only three years into the industry, and I am still in the learning phase. The people on this set were far more experienced, they had 10-12 years of hard work. Anish always gave me the freedom to perform. He told me about his idea of Saroja on the first day itself and that stayed with me. We would discuss everything. But my biggest lesson was how to carry the character for a longer time. The shoot went on for two-three months. It’s very difficult. For dance, it’s always a few songs over the course of 20-40 mins or so. So, we know how to stop it. Here, we didn’t. Sometimes it could affect your normal life. I am a very sensitive person, so far very emotional scenes, I would get a headache or something (giggles). And I’m a very positive, happy person. But I did justice to the character.
Q. Did you inherit a part of your character and leave a part of you behind with this character?
A. Sometimes even without our knowledge, our souls and the character’s souls merge. I am very spiritual. Acting is like meditating, so is every other art form. At a point, we forget ourselves, for a fraction of seconds – during acting, it happens and that’s what happiness is for me. And I could feel this many times.
Q. Lastly, what do you want the viewers to take away from the show or your character in G.O.D?
A. It’s like a good biryani. It has all the spices. It has the taste and essence of all emotions. There’s action, love, compassion, and everything in between. That’s G.O.D. You can watch everything in this show. We shot during the summers, around 40-45 degrees, in Hampi. It was very difficult. We were outdoor for almost two months and that was very hectic. We wanted the product to be perfect, so we had to make many adjustments.