South actor Keerthy Suresh is juggling a string of projects in Tamil and Telugu cinema, but she said playing legendary actor Savitri in 'Mahanati' is the most demanding character she has taken up in her career so far. The 25-year-old actor said it was both an opportunity and a challenge for her to portray the veteran actor in the Telugu film.
Keerthy said, "90 per cent of the audience only knows Savitri through her onscreen image. Not many know how she was off-screen. So to bring out that difference in the film was a difficult task. It's been a genuinely challenging experience to play Savitri."
'Mahanati' is being shot as a bilingual movie in Tamil and Telugu by director Nag Ashwin. The film is titled 'Nadigaiyar Thilagam' in Tamil. One of the finest actors in Telugu cinema, Savitri had an equally impressive career in Tamil besides working in languages such as Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.
Some of her most notable films include 'Devadasu', 'Ardhangi', 'Missamma', 'Donga Ramudu', 'Pasamalar', 'Pava Mannippu' and 'Ganga Ki Lahren'. Keerthy said the makers of 'Mahanati' have recreated some memorable sequences from Savitri's original hits.
"There are few sequences from her original films; we have done a scene from 'Maya Bazaar' and a portion of a song from the film. I had to work hard because I cannot use my imagination anywhere here and have to be completely in her shoes. She was a person who would give a 100 expressions in 10 seconds. The way her bold eyes and her lips express an emotion – it is impractical to replicate her precisely. But I wanted to give my best. I have more than a 100 costumes (changes) in this film. Savitri's appearance also changes with age in the film, so we had to go in for a makeover for each stage," she said.
Also featuring Mohan Babu, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Vijay Deverakonda, Shalini Pandey and Prakash Raj in key roles, 'Mahanati' is produced by Vyjayanthi Movies. Besides 'Mahanati', Keerthy will be seen in actor Suriya's 'Thaanaa Serndha Kottam', which is scheduled to be released on the Pongal festival in January.
She is all praise for director Vignesh Shivan's working style. "I never saw a dialogue paper on the sets during my shooting. Once I was ready for the shot, he would just explain the sequence and how the dialogues should be. He expects the artistes to act in their own style. No assistant directors would come and read you the dialogues because he wants it to be a casual and spontaneous conversation. I have never had a chance even to read the script. It was an entirely different experience," she added.
For Pongal, Keerthy also has another highly-awaited release in Telugu, Pawan Kalyan's 'Agnyaathavaasi', directed by filmmaker Trivikram. She said Trivikram has an uncanny knack of infusing humour in the film's dialogues.
"My character has many such dialogues in the film. We could even foresee the audiences' reaction to those quirky dialogues while we were shooting. Trivikram is someone who is super positive and energetic. He is a synonym of sarcasm," said the actor.
Keerthy's upcoming projects include 'Saamy 2' with director Hari, where she co-stars with Vikram and 'Sandakozhi 2' with director Lingusamy, where she will share the screen with Vishal.