Sriya Reddy bubbles and fizzles like vintage champagne! The dusky ex-VJ, ex-actor is all set to make a comeback into the world of films after a long sabbatical. Marriage and motherhood may have mellowed her but they have not tamed her irrepressible spirit and today, the talented actor is looking forward to a new innings. In conversation with Vinita Nayar
Fans of dusky, sexy Sriya Reddy will be glad to know that her sabbatical from acting is coming to a close. After her marriage to producer Vikram Krishna in 2008, the talented actor hasn’t been seen on screen. Dressed in a fitted green T-shirt and tracks, Sriya looks healthy and toned. She greets me with a smile saying she was trying to fit in a workout before I came. (More on her obsession with exercise later!)
The last few years, since 2008, have been quite a change for Sriya. She is the proud mother of a pretty little daughter now. She smiles and says, “My daughter is hardly two. Once I got married, my husband decided I shouldn’t act. I’ve been a good wife and a good daughter in law,” she says with an elfin smile. “I come from a film family – so there’s so much drama in the family! Plus my husband is a producer, my brother-in-law is an actor and my father-in-law is a producer.” She turns thoughtful. “The question is – what do I really want to do? When I was acting, I had a got a good name and worked with extremely good producers and directors. I was known as a good actor. So, if I come back, I have to come back to a good film, definitely not just for the sake of it. So I am still in search of that. Right now, mentally I am extremely ready to act. I was very content being married, having a child, doing things I couldn’t do earlier like travelling.” She adds resolutely, “Yes, the future is acting. It’s been a long break and my mind tells me my future is there.”
Actor over Producer
Sriya has produced a couple of films with hubby Vikram. Nevertheless, she firmly says, “I would prefer acting – seriously. Producing is not my cup of tea at all. It is a different ballgame. It’s a lot of hard work and I don’t know if I want to put my shoes into that.” She reiterates, “I prefer acting; I am bloody good at that!”
Sriya is animated and full of life. She speaks her mind, not pausing to think about whether her replies are politically correct or not. And this forthrightness is such a refreshing change in a time when most celebrities dish out bland replies to questions, always trying to sort out minefields in their mind and keeping the PR angle at the top of their minds. Talking about her marriage, we see her candour once again. Even though when she got married, she was an independent woman at the pinnacle of her career, she is not afraid of telling us what makes her happiest in her marriage (something many feminist would bristle at!): “I think being secure. When I got married, a lot of young girls were very shocked – they said ‘you are only 28; are you sure’.” She muses, “This security is a different kind of security. And happiness too – at the end of the day you are happy if you have the right man. My hubby is like a friend to me. I have nice in-laws; I consider them as friends and talk to them a couple of times a day.” During the interview, her sister-in-law pops in with an adorable Labrador puppy that she has just picked up. We coo over the furry golden bundle and Sriya’s cute pug comes out. Sriya grins and says, “We are a family of dog lovers as you can see!”
Talking about her decision to get married Sriya says, “I’m quite a sensible girl! I did what I had to at the right time. I knew I had talent – I was the first VJ (at SS Music) – and I did that extremely well. I became very popular. After that, acting happened. I’m glad I did those good movies. Even today people come up to me and say, ‘wow, you were so fantastic’. There is no difference between my life earlier and now except that my husband pampers me more!” She grins mischievously and says, “Earlier my parents would tell me what to do. So does my husband, But at least I can tell him to shut up!”
Amalia, Sriya’s cute daughter, has just woken up from her sleep and is carried into the room. Sriya’s eyes light up with joy and she coos to her sleepy daughter. The little one is already in play school and Sriya has just attended a parent-teacher meeting; she makes a face and grins. “Can you imagine? Parent-teacher meetings for such young kids!” So, we wonder, has motherhood changed the spirited lass? A wide grin…”It’s changed me to be a little more responsible and a little more serious.” Then she delivers her punch line: “But I think I’m still the same!” And what does she love about motherhood; pat comes the reply: “I can dress her up!” And she adds with a laugh, “But I take it a little too forward. She has to have the right socks, shoes, t-shirts. My husband thinks I am a crazy cat!” When her husband travels, which he does a lot of, he asks her what kind of clothes he should get for the little one. Sriya is very clear – no cartoons, ‘no funny faces on her clothes’. She wants to dress her child like Suri Cruz; to which her hubby apparently points out that he is not Tom Cruise!
The bubbly actor has also donned a new role – of businesswoman – helping out in the family’s granite business. With refreshing frankness she says, “I’m getting into a side of business which is alien to me. It requires different intelligence and hopefully, I will be able to learn.” She has been travelling extensively on work especially to New York, where they have an office. She’s been clocking at least six trips a year to the Big Apple.
This young lady is a self-confessed fitness freak, she admits she is ‘obsessed with working out’ and says, “Right now I eat and breathe fitness.” The previous night, she tells me, she had eaten Maggi noodles, and discovered that they packed in a whopping 400 calories. So what does she do? She works out close to midnight to burn off the extra calories! She ruefully says that she couldn’t sleep all night!
“Before I sleep, the last thing I think about is not my daughter but about what my next workout will be!” she fesses up. Her bedroom’s walk in closet is cluttered with papers stuck inside with her current weight and measurements and target weight and measurements. Another room is a jumble of schedules; these schedules for the next – hold your breath – three months have been stuck on the walls! She continues fervently, “I wear a heart rate monitor. I have an app to count all the calories I consume. It is very calculative.” And what she loves most about working out is the results of all that hard work. She says with a gleam in her eyes, “It is amazing when you see your stomach getting stronger and harder; you feel you have achieved something.”
Sriya was a sprinter in school and even today, strapping on her running shoes and heading out for a jog gives her a high. “Walking, to me, is all crap. I hear people talk about how they walk 45 minutes or one hour every day,” she says. “Running is my passion. Once or twice a week, I do a 10 kilometre run. I also do a lot of circuit training. I find the gym boring. I try and do different things to shock my body.” She shows me an app on her phone where over a month you increase the number of squats performed daily; “My target is 250 squats a day,” says the fitness aficionado. “I work out every single day,” she emphasizes. Her only break is on Sundays. She laughs and says that her in-laws think she is insane thanks to her obsession with fitness.
Net result, thanks to her obsession with fitness, the young lady is most definitely NOT a foodie. Surprisingly, she never eats out. Even if she goes out to a restaurant with her hubby or pals, she has some grilled chicken or something healthy at home and only then ventures out. She laughs and says that she and her husband have stopped going out to restaurants; hubby doesn’t fancy eating alone with Sriya just watching! So, is there any food she likes? “Just lots and lots of chocolates,” she says impishly. “Anything that has chocolate…”
As we wind up the interview, I ask her what inheritance or legacy she would like to leave behind for future generations. Sriya mulls on this question and replies sincerely, “Humility and goodness of heart is the inheritance I would like leave behind.”