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Updated: December 16, 2011 19:47 IST

With stars in her eyes

Anasuya Menon
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AMBITIOUS Hari Priya
AMBITIOUS Hari Priya

Kannada actor Haripriya makes her Malayalam debut with ‘Thiruvambady Thampan'

Four years ago, when 16-year-old Shruti from Chikballapur in Karnataka signed her first movie, all she knew was that she loved dancing and could perfect ‘steps' in no time. A lead role in a serious movie, that too in an unfamiliar language, seemed a lot to take on. But after completing the Tulu film ‘Badi', she instinctively knew she was on the right track.

Offers started trickling in from Kannada, Telugu and Tamil, but Haripriya, as she is known now, did not get overwhelmed. She was clear that she would do only roles that extract her potential. “I did not go asking for films. They came to me and all I did was make good use of the opportunity. I want to work with directors who can use my acting talent,” says the 5'7 tall, lissome beauty, who was in Thrissur recently, shooting for her debut Malayalam film ‘Thiruvambady Thampan'. Directed by M. Padmakumar, who has delivered hits such as ‘Shikar', ‘Vargam' and ‘Vasthavam', the film starring Jayaram revolves around the life of an elephant contractor. It will be released early next year.

“Acting in a Malayalam film is challenging, as it demands technical perfection,” Haripriya says. “And I must say, Malayalam film industry has some of the best directors.” However, the sets of ‘Thiruvambady Thampan' helped ease her initial nervousness. “The crew was very helpful and they tried their best to help me with my Malayalam,” she says.

Though Haripriya made her mainstream debut in Kannada with ‘Manasugula Mathu Madhura' (2008), it was her performance in ‘Kallara Santhe' (2009) that got her noticed, with a Filmfare nomination for the best actress in Kannada.

But, she says, it was her role in the Hitchcock-inspired Tamil film ‘Muran', directed by Raveendran Master's son Rajjan Madhav that turned out to be a personal benchmark. “After doing something like ‘Muran', I cannot just accept any role... I have to raise my own bar,” she says. Critics wasted no time to label her ‘choosy'.

Haripriya, however, seems undeterred. “I am not against doing routine, glamour roles; I have done a few of them. All I am saying is that I do not want to be typecast. I am the kind of girl who will look good in a sari as well as a modern outfit. It's all about finding the right balance.”

Cinema was just a faint blip on her radar. When veteran Konkani director Richard Castelino spoke to her about her role in ‘Badi', she “gave it a try”. Now, the 20-year-old is a buzzing busy bee, currently working on four projects.

But Haripriya sets aside time for her interests. Besides “shopping all the time”, she loves horse riding, dancing, music and, of course, social networking. “It feels good when people react to my movies on Facebook. It's great to be able to reach out to my fans.”

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