Sanam Shetty: My character has equal importance in Atharva
The actor makes her Kannada debut opposite Pavan Teja in the film which is scheduled for release this week
Atharva might be Sanam Shetty’s Kannada debut, but the actor is no stranger to the big screen. The heroine, who was launched in Kollywood three years ago, is an established name in the Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam industries. Having done 18 films in total, Sanam is now set to make her Kannada entry. An electronics engineer who has studied in the UK, Sanam tells us that her first Kannada film will be special and that she is looking forward to its release this week. In it, she is paired opposite another newcomer, Pavan Teja, who is from the Sarja family.
As is the case with most heroines, Sanam too is a model-turned-actor. “Modelling and acting were never on my mind. I never thought of taking it up as a full-time career until I did my first film. I enjoyed the entire process, and then decided to give it a shot,” she says, adding, “My first stint in acting was when I was in the UK working on a Sri Lankan documentary. Then, the makers of my first Tamil film, Ambuli, who saw my pictures on social media, contacted me on Facebook - that’s how everything fell in place. Since the offers were pouring in, I decided to pursue it as a career.”
Atharva also marks the directorial debut of Arun. Surrounded by newbies, everyone treated Sanam as a senior, which she initially found rather funny. “Though I come with experience, I feel like working in Kannada has been quite different. In Tamil and Malayalam, I am usually asked to be natural and more like myself. But in Kannada, everything is exaggerated, including expressions and dialogue delivery. Another difference is that in Kannada cinema, the tempo is high. However, all this fits with the flow of the film.” About her co-star, she says, “Even though it is Pavan’s debut, he comes with years of experience in theatre, and has done his homework before making his entry. Atharva is a brilliant launch for an actor.”
In the film, Sanam is initially portrayed as a tomboy, and everything changes once she falls in love with the hero. “My role is something I should thank Arun for. He has given my character equal importance in this film that steers away from being hero-centric. I’m sure this film will help me get noticed,” she says.
Having worked in three different languages, Sanam feels the filmmaking process is the same, but the nuances are different in each industry. “When it comes to Malayalam, they are extremely punctual and never deviate from their original plan. The Tamil industry is so rich in content, and most of their subjects are picked by Bollywood. As for Telugu, the scale is huge, and they do everything ‘king-size’. If you are in Tollywood, you feel like a queen on the sets because they pamper you so much. In the Kannada industry, the cast and crew is more like a family. They even go out of their way and make you feel comfortable. The bonding is evident and a close-knit unit is formed, which is a great thing,” she says.
Sanam says she hopes to work in more Kannada films. “It makes sense to me because I am from Karnataka. My parents are proud of me for finally taking up a Kannada film, and I want to make it more special just for them. Having said that, I have never restricted myself to one particular industry. All I look forward to doing are good films with unusual storylines,” she says.
Sanam’s starry wishlist
Having worked with superstars like Mammootty and Mahesh Babu, Sanam has her favourites in Kannada too. “I happened to work with Shivarajkumar for a jewellery ad - he is an absolute sweetheart. Even though he is a big star, he always makes everybody comfortable. As an audience, I have enjoyed watching Sudeep’s films, and it is inspiring to see how he has taken the Kannada industry across borders. Currently, everybody’s favourite is Yash, who is a youth icon. Associating with him for a project will be like icing on the cake, and is sure to boost my career. At the top of my head, these are the actors I would want to work with,” she says.