High On Life – Shriya Saran

She’s peppy, tantrum free and so hardworking, one wonders why she’s labelled a diva. Meet Shriya Saran, leading lady from the South, who has no airs or false graces, sits still for hours during make-up and hair without a whimper escaping her cupid-bow shaped lips and is willing to climb a rickety metal ladder to get to the rooftop of a 16-storey building, just so that she can get the right shot. RITZ spent a day with the lissome lass as she decks up beautifully in apparel from Unlimited and left with a new impression of her formed in our minds.

She steps into the studio at 9:00 am on a dreary morning in Mumbai. Dressed in a flowing white kurta and black leggings, with a huge white ceramic travel mug gripped in one hand and lugging a massive red suitcase with the other. Shriya Saran defies all rules that apply to starlets. She’s punctual, she lifts her own bags, she’s mentally prepared to spend the whole day in cramped studio and she’s super enthusiastic to do a photoshoot.

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Often Shriya has been portrayed as the sexy siren, the modern woman and racy lass. It isn’t often that the girl from Dehradun has played the girl next door. Post her recent blockbuster Drishyam, where she starred alongside Ajay Devgn, her image not only underwent an overhauling, she also managed to stump critics with her superior acting skills.

Dressed in a boho-chic skirt in black cotton, Shriya delves into her voluminous suitcase and pulls out a pair of cute spike heeled boots, white top and an animal printed bikini top that she feels with add verve to her look. A long make-up session later she’s ready to pose for the shutterbug. A few pouts, some test shots and the lady is on a roll. In 10 minutes flat she’s done in front of the camera and is ready to scrub up and move to the next shot.

The ease with which she switches on and off in front of the camera is remarkable. “Been at it for a long time, babe,” comes the reply from the now 33-year-old, who did her first film when she was just 19. Suddenly she looks at the photographer who’s hunting up some Punjabi tunes on her laptop and says, “Play Cheerleader, na? I just love that song…. its calming yet happening at the same time.” And so Omi begins to serenade us with his foot-tapping chart topper and believe us when we say that the song played on loop till the next shot was done.

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Clad in a simple curve enhancing silhouette dress, its white colour and blue and pink optical flower print, teemed with a pretty hair band and casual block heels, made Shriya look like a life-sized doll. Cute is the only word that came to mind when the actress stepped out of the makeshift dressing room, shuffling awkwardly as she hopped on one foot struggling to get the buckle of the platform shoe through the loop. “What’s this?” she asked picking up a bright pink feather enhanced hair accessory. As she caressed her skin with the soft feathers and pouted and pirouetted for the camera, we were done with shot two and headed for the next.

“It’s exhilarating to be in front of a still camera… no takes or retakes. I can be myself and do as I please,” she quipped, going on to kick off her shoes and head inside for the next change. “I love the white kurta,” she gushed, finding it hanging on the clothes rack. “I want the entire Indian look for the next shot…. and lots of bangles please.”

As Omi continued to sing and we shuffled around getting things ready for the next shot, Miss Bright As Sunshine popped out of the dressing room with an idea. “Lets head to the roof for the next picture. I want to wave the dupatta around and get the perfect ‘flying chunni’ shot.” A bit typical, but who were we to complain. It isn’t often that we see an actor so enthusiastic to shoot for a magazine.

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Upon reaching the roof top level of the typically messy Mumbai apartment, we were shocked to find the door to the roof locked and instead a rickety metal ladder placed under a hole (like a trap door) opening out onto the service roof where water tanks and solar panels sat. “I’m going up… you guys coming?” she asked, climbing up the crazy 17 step ladder like a seasoned monkey. And so, the photographer with her phobia for heights, the make up artist with his brushes and palettes, the hair stylist with her spray bottles and pins, the stylist with her clips and needles and yours truly with nothing more than a prayer for our collective safety, headed to the roof top for some stunning Manhattan-ish views of Bollywood to fulfill the actress’ wish for that perfect ‘dupatta shot’