With her naughty mannerisms … Eekada? (For Ekkkada) & ayyabaaboi nuvvala anaku naaku edholaa vundhi in Kotha Bangaru Lokam, the 17-year-old Shwetha Basu Prasad has become the naya heartthrob of our Inter and (degree) guys all over Andhra Pradesh. She is strikingly talkative, giving a fine expression of herself, her career and options in private life. Born to a UP father and Bengali mother, she truly reflects the cosmopolitan outlook of the new generation teens. She has the guts to say that she blind-dated a Punjabi guy. With KBL making a clean sweep of the theatres, the girl stands at the vantage point… say a hotcake for the filmmakers in Tollywood. In an exclusive interview to Idlebrain.com, she reveals that: “I am not Swapna of KBL in real life. But, quite opposite to the character.” Excerpts:
Tell us about your background?
I am Shweta Basu Prasad. It’s my newly altered name with my mom’s surname included for this film (KBL). Prasad represents the lineage from my dad’s side. I was born in the Steel City of Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) and I came to Mumbai when I was three or four. My mom’s ancestry stretches to West Bengal. I can read and write Bengali. My dad is from Uttar Pradesh and later moved to Delhi. My dad has strong background in the Theatre. At the age of 11, I became a child artiste, making my debut with Makdi. It was written and directed by music composer Vishal Bharadwaj, starring Shabana Azmi as witch. I played the dual role in that film. It got me National Award (The Best Child Artiste) and I received it from the then President APJ Abdul Kalam. That time I was 12. At the age of 14, I did Iqbal, a Nagesh Kukunoor’s film produced by Subash Ghai film, entirely shot in and around Tenali. I did another film in Bengali with Mithun Chakravarthy. And this (KBL) is my first film as heroine. I will be turning 18 in January next year.
You worked with some of the famed directors and banner. What did you learn from your stint with them all these years?
In fact, I never took any training for acting in films. Even during my childhood and schooldays too, I was not used to it. But, I felt the passion for films naturally. Working for Makdi, I didn’t pay much attention to learning. That time it was completely professional. To be relevant, I can say that I got the sense of preparation for the scenes from Shabana Azmi (in Makdi). It also helped me to tune my body language and down-to-earth adaptation to the situations. From Mithun Chakrabarty, I got the point as to how to get into the characterization. In KBL, I found working with senior artistes like Jayasudha, Brahmanandam and all. This made me catch the plus points and learn from the minus points.
What you think are your plus points?
I have got great memory power. It’s my strength. See, working for a film like KBL with Telugu being completely alien to me, I had to work on a new horizon. I had to be quick in dialogue delivery. Ten minutes before the shoot of the scene, I was told the dialogues, which I had to enact live. Secondly, I have passion for work. I enjoy what I do. I am always used to work with agility.
What about your studies?
Studies is ever important to me, that too coming from a family wielding highly educated professionals in high posts… doctors, engineers, CAs. My parents don’t love me if I have no mind for education. Now, I am doing my 11th at a CBSE high school in Mumbai. I will continue and set to do B.Com. I concentrate on the present and plan for the future.
How do you balance your acting career and studies?
I don’t necessarily study and do a job. To be an actress, I don’t need to have a degree as qualification. But, education is important to me. To be literate is a must. I know what I am doing.
Tell us about your experience working for KBL?
I am new, but got a very banner (production house). The script was real, fresh, though we have seen many love stories. I could work with senior artistes. Music and cinematography were fantastic. I had lots of experiences each day working with the KBL team. Actually, I am an outsider. The culture here is different to me. Each day, it was like a struggle to me with the language and culture… and I enjoyed all these.
You got a National Award. Further, what do you want to achieve?
Yes. Already I got the National Award. More than that, I got an international award as the Best Supporting Actress Award at the Karachi Film Festival. I could do the dual role in Makdi. Though a staunch Hindu, I donned the role of a Muslim girl in Iqbal. I played role of mother less child in Bengali film. Now, in KBL, I did the role as Swapna, which is completely the opposite of mine in real life. Getting recognized as a child artiste and with a rising career, I say… I am greedy right now. I am greedy to do more difficult and challenging roles. I can do them only when I am at them.
What about your fan mail?
I don’t have a fan mail. Living in Mumbai, I don’t know much about the audience here. Now, with this KBL success, I got to know that I got much craze among the youth in Andhra Pradesh. I know, the audiences are the real judges. I am delighted and happy now.
What’s your email Id?
How you differentiate between Swapna (as KBL heroine) and self (Swetha)?
Swapna is highly restricted in her way by narrow-minded parents. They are overprotective about the girl. But, I (in real life) have got absolute freedom and face no restrictions at all. My mom is my best friend. I share everything with her. Swapna is simple, alone and thinks differently. But, I am fun loving, friendly and mischievous. Swapna has the patience to wait for four years for her lover. But, I can’t wait for even four days (Laughs).
Who’s your favorite actor?
Aamir Khan. Thre is always value and money for the audiences for his films. Among the Hollywood actors, Johnny Depp is my favorite.
Can you list out your favorite films?
God! It’s a long list. Anyways, I tell you. Saudagar, Amar Prem, Chalti Ka Nam Gadi, DDLJ, Ghungroo, Range De Basanti, Nayak (Shankar) and…. Many more.
Your favorites in Hollywood?
Manhattan, Titanic and Memoirs of a Geisha. Memoirs of a Geisha reflects the many shades of a woman at different ages.
If you happen to be taken for a remake of a classic, which one would you prefer most?
Amar Prem (Sharmila Tagore), Dushman (Kajol) and Khoobsurat (Rekha)
What’s your hobbies?
Reading books, newspapers. I love music. I carry Ipod with me always. I am a very private person, mostly. I like to frolic in family functions only. I am not a party person.
What are your favorite books?
Pride and Prejudice of Jane Austen. Time Machine of HG Wells, Kuldip Nayyar’s non-fiction Without Fear: Life and trial of Bhagat Singh.
What about your favorite dishes?
With my Bengali ancestry, I am regularly used to fish and rice, my staple diet. Thanks to my dad’s side, I like Rajma Chawal. I like butter chicken. My mom is an expert in making Alu parottas. And next.. Pulav. I love Chinese too. I also like street food like Vada Pav, Pav Baji, Sav Puri and Pani Puri.
How come you eat all these stuff and maintain your physic?
I believe in eating and exercising. I am a big foodie. I never think of dieting. I eat a lot, but I take it at the right time. And doing exercises regularly.
What are your favorite restaurants?
Oh Calcutta, Mainland China, Pop Tates (Italian) and Aromas of China are the restaurants I prefer inMumbai..
Did you date anytime?
Since schooling, I do have a lot of friends. I am tomboyish by nature. Most of them found me always fighting with them. The guys were always scared of me and didn’t have courage to say anything of that sort directly to me. Of course, some guys would send me messages. Hmm… But, I blind-dated a Punjabi guy in March of this year. I don’t generally expect anything on my date.
What’s the best compliment for you?
During the shoot of a sequence for the film Iqbal, it was Nasiruddin Shaw, who said: “Shweta, you are doing well. I’m not surprised.” He had watched my film Makdi. Next, it was Asha Parekh Ji. At a function in Dubai, she told me: “I am the world’s biggest fan of you.” As she said so, I found the tray she held trembling. Above all, I always consider that the best compliment is always from the director, because he is the creator of a character.
Just at 17, you are so matured in expressions?
Oh! It’s a nice compliment. See, since my childhood, I have been an artiste, which might be the reason for my frolic and being talkative. My family background too counts a lot.
If not an actress, what would you have been?
My life would have been a blackout. I am madly in love with films. I am passionate about them. I could become a lawyer because. I am very good at arguing. I have respect for Indian Constitution and Judiciary.
What about the offers coming to you?
Yes. I have aplenty. But, I can’t disclose to you right now. There is a commitment in Bollywood in which I would be launched as heroine. Five big banners from Telugu film industry approached me after the release of KBL. Nothing has yet been committed to. Let me see.
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