Sunday, July 14, 2024

Dil Se: Pranitha Subhash- A picky actor and a doting mother

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Actress Pranitha Subhash is on cloud nine these days, immersed in maternal emotions. Of course, it has been extremely rewarding for her since the moment her daughter Arna was born. The bonding after birthing has redefined her relationship dynamics and sense of identity so much so that everything seems to have changed for the good. Every single day comes packed with surprises and challenges for her as a mother these days. But she is ready to take on the world, while watching her daughter grow. With an incredible filmography backing her, she is not quitting films any time soon. The latest on that front is news that the actress will be next seen doing a debut in Malayalam cinema. What has become noticeable in the actress is her increased sense of devotion and respect for traditions. In a conversation with The Pioneer’s Shikha Duggal, she shares that she does not see eye to eye with those who do not complement bhakti with knowledge. She says she wants to spread enlightenment around her.

Most people describe my daughter as ‘calm’, though she has become very naughty. If you leave her unattended for a second, she turns into a curious kid on exploratory missions. She’ll start ambling towards the pooja room, touch deepaks. Most of the time, I am behind her. Everything is whirling around my daughter presently. My parents remind me of my fondest childhood memories with the help of their granddaughter: Oh, this is what you used to do in your childhood as well. For example, she has a pattern of holding a soft quilt without which she is not going to sleep. I used to be like that when I was a small child, I am told.

During my early years, I was a very obedient child — not just at home, even at school. All the subsequent traits of obnoxious behaviour, such as throwing tantrums started only after I passed my eighth grade. I had my own girl gang! We made an impact on my school. They used to always get me into trouble, while staying clear of any mess. I remember a phone call going home when an important teacher had not come, and we were meandering in our school uniforms. A melodramatic scene happened! There was also a certain pressure on me to be the best in whichever field I had selected, considering my parents are successful doctors. We have a hospital of our own as well. My father is known for organising blood and eye donation camps across the country.

My family hails from Bengaluru. My grandparents delineate the real old Benguluru. My grandfather was one of the first civil engineers from his native place. My parents had an arranged marriage. Hinduism is a way of life for me; it’s a part of the culture in which I have grown up. I follow dharma because it leads me to spiritual advancement. Even mountains, rivers, trees, plants, fruits, and flowers are all revered in various ways. Sanatana dharma is an eternal flow of life for me. But not everybody can understand this profound truth about our culture! Religion is very personal to me. When movies distort historical facts, it infuriates me.

I believe that no festival is complete without traditional dishes, and for me, my favourite festival Ugadi has always meant feasting on what seemed like an unlimited amount of bobattlu ever since I was a child. When I was younger, I never gave a second thought to how many bobattlu I should eat! I try to make it healthy by adding some roasted and crushed almonds to the filling of the dish. As my daughter Arna grows up, I would love to teach her how to make bobattlu at home. I remember making it in different shapes at home when I was young. It is a fond childhood memory. I believe cheat meals are not necessarily bad and enjoying them in moderation can reduce overall cravings and help maintain a more balanced diet. I mostly wake up feeling hungry, so I snack on something easy to pack in the right nutrients. My go-to option is to eat a handful of almonds after I wake up every day as it is a tradition passed down to me by my mother.

On my journey to overcome binge-eating, I took a big step by adding lots of fresh fruits and veggies to my meals. Trust me, the impact has been incredible! These vibrant foods not only provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they also have the added benefit of being low in calories. I could munch on them whenever I had cravings. Without guilt weighing me down, I started enjoying tasty salads bursting with flavours, yummy fruit bowls filled with juicy goodness, and crispy veggie sticks that satisfied my cravings for something crunchy. And you know what, these alternative food choices not only helped me take control of my cravings, but they also left me feeling genuinely content and fulfilled. It is like a double win for my taste buds and my overall well-being.

Commercial success is very important to me. It gives me the appropriate motivation. With it, I will have the power to choose my next film on my own. I want my line-up to look credible, a valid filmography. A better reach and influence! I was instantly in the limelight as an overnight sensation. I was suddenly seen and heard; my voice became relevant. Commercial success does not come only with your looks surely, your look matters; but, only to some extent. Our jobs are hyper-visible! So, don’t conflate the reality of an actor with the fantasy of a celebrity.

It has been a decade working for the entertainment industry. Now, I am venturing into Malayalam cinema! It is even more special because I am making a comeback, post my delivery. You won’t see me doing any full-fledged roles in Telugu movies anytime soon. Because doing three films at a time becomes very hectic for me. As an actor, we travel a lot to shoot! From finishing the make-up, rehearsing lines to going for dance rehearsals after pack-up/following your fitness regime, including diets, is all very arduous. And then comes the press meets! There have been days when I spent afternoons shooting in Mysore and by night I would be in Hyderabad.

My experiences with the media in south have been very friendly. They are not critical of the body of work I do; they don’t put me under the scanner. It is okay for them to know that I am prioritising myself! Most importantly, they don’t judge me. Whoever calls me from south media, I feel very affable and I instantly lift their calls. Even if I am not giving a release, I am still on their minds. Not so amiable with the PR game, after my second release I was asked to hire a PR team; and, for what? ‘To be seen everywhere!’ I don’t enjoy that. This mostly happens in B-town, whereas when you travel down south, you are solely based on your acting talent and not on your OOTD. Those are the right opinions to judge us and not by which gym or salon are we coming out from! And filmi parties are also a pressurizing point for me because I don’t like to dress up at all.

Celebrity endorsements are very quantifiable. On social media, the numbers game is followed the most! We do get caught up with the ‘likes’ and the perceived reach. But I know of my contemporaries who are extremely famous in real-world but they hardly have followers on social media or vice-versa. So, followers are definitely holding value for us! Even getting cast is also based on how popular you are on social media these days. The production is eager to know who’s my target audience! So, acting is so misunderstood. Be a working actor, and a not a famous one.

There is something that pulls me to take up the role of an investor: different businesses caught my attention. It is a hit or a miss game! But towards the end, I could not give much; so, I withdrew. I was not lucky enough to be born this way, unlike the rich. Simultaneously, I made some brilliant investments with my own money. Fame is fickle, so we can always set up a nest egg after the curtains close for me. I don’t want to publicize my social work and would like to keep it secretive. I have got into this social service because of my parents. In  Bengaluru, we have adopted two schools and have been taking
care of them.

Of late, my involvement in Hyderabad has lessened. I am not shooting over there often. But whenever I do, we have a big gala party with my crew. I can see so many new reels about Hyderabad, the development is maddening. It was so basic during 2010. Today the city has all the international brands. I always used to get mobbed! But I miss the moments spent with Pawan garu. We used to have long chats about life and how one should deal with it. He has a unique sense of humour which I love more than anything. His swag is something to die for. I am waiting for another chance to do a film with him.

The idea of having a baby is spiritual. My daughter’s birth was sacred. When it comes to delivery, it does get challenging but our labour pain is intensified according to our cultural messages and life experiences. I reconnected with my innate wisdom during pregnancy! I took a break from social media, embraced pregnancy, nurtured my connection with the baby, created my birth vision, prepared for endurance, knowing my body has a
spiritual dimension.

My mother is a gynaecologist. So, that helped make a lot of decisions. I took up Pilates post-delivery and that was a lot of fun. It is light on the body, too! Dancing helps in flexibility; so, I do that regularly and nothing beats the classic running outdoors with music. I try to work out three days a week and usually do it in the afternoon when my daughter is napping or at night after she falls asleep. I swear by pram walk. My daughter loves the outdoors and it is a wonderful way to connect her with nature. Pushing the pram counts as a workout for sure. Also, I don’t work out on the days when I take her out on a pram walk. I have heard that in some traditions, moms are given nothing but two rusks and a small glass of water. But my mother had told me that it is important to eat nutritious food. Post delivery, the body is healing, recovering. So, we need a lot of energy. I was the hungriest and thirstiest after delivery. I stuck to listening to my body. I love food and eat everything my body craves for.

From what I can see today, Hindutva is becoming an issue. We are supposed to follow our scriptures! It is very strange for me to see one wishing “Happy Diwali” and they are called ‘fundamentalist’. I find that offensive! We are perceived as so many different character types on Twitter, for example. The left is trying to “project” that Hindutva and Hinduism are two different concepts. Then they are bringing Hindu terror in this! Our dharma is very harmonious and how dare someone dismantle it. I don’t understand what’s this facade if I talk about my roots, I am claimed to be defending Sanatana dharma. I get comments like “you are jeopardizing your career” because the industry is full of liberals. So what? Without naming anyone, the same actors who are known to be liberal call Sanatana dharma intolerant: How did this happen? Even being a nationalist is looked at as if I am being pro-BJP and here comes a facepalm. When I identify with my basic culture, Twitter calls me a “Hindu sherni” and it seems really hilarious to me. Sometimes, my tweet leads to an uproar! But what about the times when a certain movie team weaves a controversy by hurting the sentiments of followers of Sanatana dharma? I was saddened because actors from our fraternity never took a stand against this! They want to be people-pleasers.

MY FIRST AUDITION: I never auditioned; the ADs around me taped my conversation and I was picked up as an actress
FIRST CELEBRITY MEETING: Anil Kumble, we are neighbours now
ROLE MODEL: Priyanka Chopra

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