26 September 2016
Although she was one among a crop of young actresses entering Tollywood, she stood out. What made this beauty so special? Just a short interview later, it was clear. Her nonchalant demeanour, total lack of starry airs and alluring temperament aside, it was refreshing to speak to an actress who refuses to take herself too seriously. What you see is what you get when it comes to Raashi Khanna.
Raashi mesmerised Tollywood audiences with her effortless portrayal of Sai Sirisha Prabavathi in Oohalu Gusagusalade just two years ago. Now with multiple hits under her belt, she is all set to sizzle on screen in the upcoming romantic comedy Hyper. Read on for the no holds barred interview.
You debuted in Bollywood with Madras Cafe, what prompted you to enter Tollywood?
I used to think that Telugu films are all about singing and dancing. That’s the perception people have in the north a lot of the times. But when I heard the story of Oohalu Gusagusalade, I loved it. The story was the hero in that film. During the narration a lot of my preconceived notions about south cinema were taken away. All the characters had an equal part in the film. I’m really glad that film happened because I received so much love and attention from it. And after that I just continued to work here. I’m honestly very happy with the way everything worked out.
It’s quite rare for an actress to have a role as comedic as yours did in Supreme, how was that experience?
I love doing comedy. I absolutely love it. There is nothing like bringing a smile to someone’s face. The great thing about Supreme was that there was nothing forced, it was situational comedy coupled with my expressions. I have to thank my director Anil Ravipudi for bringing that out in me; he has a great sense of comedy and comic timing. Until I did that movie, I didn’t realise that I could pull off comedy onscreen. I truly grew as an actor and comedian.
How do you prepare for a role?
If we are talking about Supreme, I just had to be myself. In everyday life I’ve always had a natural knack for comedy and people used to tell me that I have a comic and silly side to me. As for the cop part, I was quite excited about playing one. I watched cop movies like Miss Congeniality to get the body language.
Otherwise, I’m very neutral when it comes to dealing with anything in life. I don’t think too much. You never know the fate of a film. A lot of the times during shooting you may not be too confident but when it releases it does great. There’s also the issue that to keep current you have to keep going and singing projects. It doesn’t mean that we have to love every movie right from the beginning. No one really knows what will end up working because there are so many aspects to filmmaking and so many people involved.
If a movie doesn’t do as well as you expect, does it rattle you?
I’m quite neutral to success or failure. It actually does not affect me. I just try to learn from my mistakes and look for ways to improve myself. There were instances where the movie ended up a success like Supreme but there was also Shivam which didn’t do as well. In either case I was sad to see the process finish because I was sad to leave the team. Every journey is important to me.
Are you looking to experiment with your roles?
I am definitely open to experimenting. If the writers have faith in me I would definitely want to do it.
Right now I think we are going through a transitional phase. New stories and overseas markets have made a huge impact. I’m glad that I’m working at a time where characters are also written for actresses. Still, although things are changing, there is still a huge market for commercial films. Right now it seems to me that everyone wants to see me in commercial films and I don’t mind working in them at all.
Between reviews and box office results, what matters more to you?
What the audience thinks of you is most important to me. Reviews are written by a certain sector of people and box office results don’t matter to me as much. I think if people like you they will come and watch you so public review is what matters to me the most.
What are your future ambitions?
I am very serious about my career and I am also very hard working; but I’m not a very ambitious person. What I mean is that I am not so ambitious that the results will affect me as a person. I also believe that what comes to you is not in your hands entirely. So it’s best to just keep working hard and take what comes to you. I’ll be happy with peace in my life.
Tell us about your role in Hyper.
I love my role in the film. There is no middle ground when it comes to her. It is a role with two extreme characterisations so it was like playing a double role. In one half she is very nice, simple and in her own cocoon – I love that part. Then suddenly she’s a modern girl which was a lot of fun to play. I love the story; of course you always love your films but I’m sure my character will be received really well.
You’ve lost a lot of weight lately, was it a conscious decision?
I’ve always been working out. I had a health problem earlier so I couldn’t shed weight. Once it was diagnosed, I went on medication and I’ve had to work a lot harder at the gym but I’m ok with it. I never did it because someone said something. Now people ask me why have you lost weight? We want your cheeks back. Basically there is no pleasing everyone so you need to be fit in whichever shape you are. Even now I don’t want to be skinny or fall into any stereotypes of what a heroine is supposed to be. I work hard to stay fit for myself and my mental peace. It is an added benefit that it works for the job too but I do it for myself.
What are your interests outside cinema?
Films are a part of my life. They are not my entire life. I read a lot, I sing. Apart from that I haven’t had a lot of time to do other things but whenever I do have time I like to spend it with my family. I’m also going to be taking up dancing and kickboxing.
Speaking of singing, are you planning to sing professionally?
I haven’t sung for a film yet, mainly because there’s always been a clash. But I see it happening in the future.
Do people know the real you?
I don’t think you know your real self honestly. I’m not very expressive when it comes to my private life. I am an extremely private person so I prefer to stay in my cocoon with my family and my friends. I don’t discuss my personal life which is very different from my professional life. And that is how it’s always going to be.
- Maya Nelluri