– Rinku Gupta
Director Gautham Vasudev Menon is known for the way he weaves romance into everyday life in his movies. His heroines are always strong, enigmatic, beautiful and ethereal on screen. So when he announces a film, there is always avid curiosity surrounding the leading lady of his movie. The latest heroine he brings to the screen with his Dhruva Natchatiram is RITU VARMA, best known for her role in the blockbuster Pelli Choopelu in Tollywood. In an exclusive chat with the actor, we bring you a peek into what Gautham Menon’s latest heroine is like, minus the greasepaint.
“My parents are from Madhya Pradesh but settled in Hyderabad for decades so I was born and raised here,” says Ritu, in a break from her ongoing shoot. Cast opposite Vikram in her Kollywood debut, the B Tech graduate never imagined she would be an actor, in her wildest dreams. “I was a shy kid in school and though I did take part in cultural activities like dance and painting competitions, I never did theatre. So I never ever imagined that one day I would be acting! But people did tell me I had a photogenic face,” she recalls. A beautiful face and a good height, prompted her mother to enroll her in a beauty pageant in which she became the runner up. “That’s when modeling and ramp walk assignments flooded in and I decided to take it up on a lark,” she laughs.
But destiny was paving her way towards the camera and greasepaint already. “Tharun Bhasker, who later directed Pelli Choopelu, was my friend. He was at that time, making a short film and persuaded me to act in it. I told him I didn’t know anything about acting, but he felt I would be the perfect fit for the role. The result was Anukokunda, a 10-minute short film which won 1 st place in the competition it was made for and was later screened at Cannes as well. This led to many more film offers and I was very confused whether to accept them or not. But in the end, I decided to give it a try,” smiles Ritu.
Several films later, she landed with a blockbuster hit like Pelli Choopelu which has made her a household name in Tollywood. Now, the actor in her has taken over completely. “I have fallen in love with acting now. I think I was destined to become an actor. The moment I started facing the cameras, I fell in love with the whole experience,” she says. The experience is a huge high for the actor, “I just love the kick I get out of being on the sets of a film, when I apply makeup and get into my character. Nothing can beat the high feeling that it gives me! I am so glad cinema found me.”
While her next film Keshava in Tollywood is with Nikil Siddhartha, she has stepped into Kollywood with China, opposite Kalaiarasan. “China has me playing a middle class christian girl and the film is a thriller. The director Harshavardhan saw the trailer of my film Yevvada long before Pelli Choopelu happened. I auditioned and though the language was very different, their confidence in me helped me through.”
Any actor would be excited to be cast in a Gautham Menon film and that too opposite the versatile Chiyaan Vikram. Ask her about it and she clams up completely. “The shoot is going on right now and it’s too early to talk about the film,” is her reply. So does she watch Tamil movies? “I think they have really interesting scripts here and I am excited to work in Tamil cinema, looking forward to playing strong characters that stand out. I do keep in touch with the latest releases happening,” she signs off.