He may be acting and directing, but the klieg lights are also calling him

It is not easy to frame Shrikanth Krishnaswamy Iyengar. A doctor who gave up medicine, sometime director, sometime movie actor, who stumbled into theatre but who keeps hearing the call of klieg lights. But it is easy to grasp his passion for acting just by looking at his thumb.

In the primal third scene A Streetcar Named Desire where the brutish Stanley Kowalski picks up the radio playing waltz music and hurls it shattering the stained glass windows, Shrikanth who essayed the role, did it so realistically that when he hurled the radio, the shards of glass shaved a piece of his thumb.

“The make-do training at Gandhi Hospital came in handy. I just put the cut portion under a jet of running water, so that no glass souvenirs are left. I never knew there were so many stars till I poured eau de cologne. It hurt. Then I wrapped it around with muslin cloth and within eight minutes I was back on stage,” reminiscences Shrikanth looking at the thumb with 17 sutures.

Unlike most Hindi actors who pout: “I love theatre. I want to do theatre,” Shrikanth is clear that he is waiting for movies to happen. His tryst with theatre happened when Seema Azharuddin met him in Visakhapatnam and broached the subject. But getting the role and the opportunity to direct Streetcar didn't come to Shrikanth like a lolly. He had to make a pitch, convince two sets of teams that he can pull it off. He had to master the lines, get into skin of roles of other actors, live their lives, create the sets and let the drama unfold being part of it. He did.

A movie-loving father who worked with NRSA was the germ that made Shrikanth turn to cinema and acting. His father would even tell him the nuances about the teardrop on the face of ill-fated Maggio (played by Frank Sinatra) in From Here to Eternity. But his father baulked at the idea that Shrikanth would be an actor. “My father was firm that I do a professional course. Which I did. Then my father said since you have the best Plan B ready go ahead with your acting,” he says. He plunged headlong, doing bit roles (he played the owner of the software company in the movie Angrez), a bit of direction (he assisted Tanikella Bharani on Sira). The traumatic loss of his father made foray into directing with Stalemate… it's your move. He lived the role by walking long distances to lose weight and ignored his growling appetite to bring realism to the role. Is it some control thing that he wants to direct as well as act? Is it a control thing that he likes a director's medium and not an actor's medium?

“Hahaha, no. I like cinema because it reaches out to a larger audience. And there is nothing like positive feedback from a large number of people,” says Shrikanth whose favourite Hindi movie happens to be Guru Dutt's Kagaz ke Phool (again it is about a director). “That movie is magic, the other movie which is my all time favourite is Rudy (the real-life story of Rudy Daniel ‘Rudy' Ruettiger). I have a couple of scripts and plots, let's see if someone comes along to produce it,” he says with a laugh.