‘It was a matter of pride to play a forest guard’
...says Sapthami Gowda, who talks in detail about her character Leela in Rishab Shetty’s Kantara
Sapthami Gowda got her first big break with Suri's Popcorn Monkey Tiger (PMT). She played Girija, an extrovert very much like the actor herself, in the gangster drama and earned good reception. This bolstered her belief in picking up distinct roles with every film. Now, in her second film Kantara (by Rishab Shetty), Sapthami will be playing forest guard Leela.
"I got good feedback for my role as Girija in PMT. However, post the film, I was offered only such roles. But I wanted to play a role that was completely different, and I am glad Leela came my way," says Sapthami.
Ahead of the film’s release on September 30, Sapthami says that she considers getting an audition call from Rishab a big thing, and all she wanted was, to be part of his vision. "Post-PMT, the lockdown confined us all at home. During that time, I was doing a documentary on Karnataka tourism, and a picture of mine caught the director's attention. He called me for auditions, briefed about the role, and gave the references for Kantara. That was definitely a selling point for me," she adds.
When asked about the best and toughest part of being part of Rishab Shetty's directorial, Sapthami says, "Everyone in the film, including Kishore, Achyuth Kumar, and Pramod, are fine actors. The rest of them came from a theatre background. I was just a one-film-old actor. I felt it would be tough to match up to their standards. But I liked how Rishab put me through a workshop before casting me. In fact, he finalised me only after I understood Leela, and was aware of the authenticity of the coastal culture, and had a hold on the dialect. I'm glad I never let Rishab down."
It is not often that we see a forest guard being portrayed on screen, and Sapthami exudes pride in playing such a role, especially when she got a chance to do it in her second film itself. "Leela's character has a unique graph. Her character refers to the first woman officer in the 90s, who was recruited as a forest guard," says Sapthami, adding that Leela helped her have a better understanding of the forest, and its inhabitants. "I got to meet the officer when I was shooting. I felt proud wearing the uniform, and that is one thing I have taken back home as a memory. I haven't even washed the uniform, because there is a lot of connection with the marks," she says.
Sharing that working with Rishab was a golden opportunity, Sapthami says that Hombale Films' involvement was the icing on the cake. "I came onboard Kantara mainly because it was a Rishab film. The involvement of a big production house like Hombale Films was a piece of surprise to me. Everything about Kantara was a blessing in disguise. I can get a variety of roles in my career, but the role of forest guard will also remain special, and I'm glad that I was destined to be part of such a role," she signs off.