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Thursday, February 29, 2024

“I love the entire package of being an actor” – Neha Shetty

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Actor Neha Shetty on manifesting her dream and why she loves what she does

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If you’ve seen a zillion versions of the viral video Sammohanuda on YouTube and Instagram lately, blame it on Neha Shetty, the Bengaluru hudigi (girl) who’s trending in Tollywood with her sensuous moves in the song in her upcoming movie Rules Ranjann. Set to release on October 6, the 23-year-old plays a strong, enterprising girl from Tirupati. Neha had thrown up a dance challenge to her fans to recreate the song on their reels and it really worked wonders for it, garnering 29 million views and one lakh shares and reels on social media. With six movies (Telugu and Kannada) to her credit and two more in the pipeline, Neha splashed into the Tollywood waters soon after the pandemic as Radhika in DJ Tillu in 2021, the movie that set the cash registers ringing. She inspired a thousand memes, but all in good humor about her character of a manipulative girl who lands the innocent tapori Tillu in trouble. WOW! chats up this young actor to know what she’s up to.

Have you always been the drama queen who wanted to act in movies?

Born and brought up in Bengaluru, I was always the certified drama queen in my family. Everyone in my school knew I would become an actor. I have been dreaming of this since I was four. Through a modelling agency, even as a kid, I got the opportunity to endorse iconic brands such as Horlicks and Kissan jam. When I became a teenager, I wanted to participate in beauty pageants as it seemed to be the most legit way to step into the glamor industry and work my way up. I chose to start with the Miss Bengaluru contest and that landed me an offer in the Kannada movie Mungaru Maley 2 (2016), the sequel to the cult movie Mungaru Maley. I was studying computer science. As the film shoots would interfere with academics, I chose to opt for the movies.

Was your family supportive of your decision?

My mother is a dentist and my father is a businessman; and both were most supportive of my decision. My sister who lives in London also said, “Jaa Neha, jee ley teri zindagi.”

Looking back, from 2016 to 2023, what has the filmi journey been like?

I have learned, grown, and evolved and become the best version possible of myself. I manifested the dream of becoming an actor and watching myself on the silver screen to applause. I think the stars are aligned with my dream and here I am.

What kind of effort went into the Sammohanuda song?

We heard you had bruised your leg. It was my first commercial song that would let the audience know that I could dance. I grew up learning ballet and hip-hop. So, putting that dance energy into this make-or-break song came easy. We shot for about 12 days in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Hyderabad during Christmas in 2022. The weather was about 14 degrees and I was shivering as the shot needed me to emerge out of a pool. We had day and night shoots and Sirish master, my choreographer and I were totally into discussions – creating mood boards, finalizing the thumka, how many seconds I twirl my fingers, etc. The floor was slippery and I bruised my knee on the floor but nothing would stop me from giving it my best. I get a kick when I see the song going viral today.

How did the role of Radhika in DJ Tillu change your life?

The first thing that changed was my name. Nobody knows me as Neha, but as Radhika. I was closest to my grandmother and she passed away the day DJ Tillu released. I was in Coorg for her funeral. I felt like the success of the movie was her blessing and parting gift to me. People have loved Radhika beyond my imagination. After that there was no looking back. I managed to get three amazing movies. Hope all of it will work out.

What are the blessings of being an actor and the downside?

The blessing is that I get to live my dream. The downside is loss of privacy and that everything we say or do is up for public scrutiny. But I am not complaining. I love the entire package of being an actor.

Quick Takes

Your mantra in life: Nurture your inner self

One fashion hack for your girl fans: Comfort is fashion

Your dream date in Hyderabad would be: Eating and shopping anonymously in Old City

Three hashtags that define you: #Confident #HappyGoLucky #DramaQueen

One thing in life you regret doing: Going on a Keto diet when my friends and I were on a vacation in Mumbai

One thing in life you regret not doing: I wish I had applied for the Miss India pageant earlier “I have learned, grown, and evolved and become the best version possible of myself. I manifested the dream of becoming an actor and watching myself on the silver screen”

167
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2.8k
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