Shraddha Shrinath was a well-to-do real estate lawyer with a Bangalore-based firm when the arc lights and the stage called out to her. She tried for a couple of years to give her legal career a proper shot but ultimately she couldn’t resist her true calling, when she was called for the casting for lead role in a Kannada film. She soon quit her job as a legal aid in Decathlon and went from reviewing real estate contracts to starring as a lead actress in a regional film!
THE EARLY YEARS
Shraddha Shrinath was not one of those typical army brats who knew exactly what they wanted from the age of five! Having changed 9 schools through her early schooling, thanks to her Army dad, Shraddha says she never harboured or articulated aspirations to be a pilot or astronaut or any such thing.
Shraddha realized she would have to make her first career choice by the 10th standard. She chose commerce like her sister, because as Shraddha puts it, “arts as a stream was considered boring and science was not my cup of tea.”
In the 11th standard, Shraddha chose law by a method of elimination. Having chosen commerce, the options were to do hotel management, chartered accountancy or law. Her sister had already taken up hotel management and warned her against it. And as Shraddha puts it, ‘accounting was too much of a hassle for her and I was not passionate about it.” So she decided to go with law, and become the first lawyer in her family!
She remembers thinking then, that she could fight the system from the grass route level. Despite being dissuaded by family, friends and relatives who told her that the court system was corrupt, she took it up as a challenge to prove that you could do law as a young girl.
TRUDGING THROUGH A LEGAL STINT
She moved to Bangalore to study law at the Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies. But by the third year she started losing interest, and even though her heart wasn’t in it, she knew she had to finish the course as her parents were paying for her fees. So she started acting in plays in her spare time. She saw a post on Facebook for an audition for a musical and decided to give it a shot. She bagged the role and soon began regularly acting in the thriving Bangalore theatre scene. She says, “I knew I could do this well and I wanted to just do plays back-to-back.”
By her 5th year of college, she got a job via the placements on campus and worked with a real estate developer called Century Real Estate. But the pay was meager – just Rs. 9000 a month and the role was more of an assistant than anything to do with law. Shraddha remembers, “That was my first job but the minute I entered the office I felt that this is like a ticking time bomb. I didn’t know when I wanted to leave, but I knew that I wanted to leave.”
She then moved to Decathlon, which was a French retail company that was buying land in India to expand. She was young but eager to learn and prove herself and soon she was handling the vetting of real estate contracts and due diligence for land purchases. As she puts it, “I had only 1 year experience while my colleagues who were handling south and west had almost 10 years of experience and the money was great, I was making Rs. 75,000 a month on this job and traveling to France for work!”
CATCHING THE ACTING BUG
As Shraddha puts it, the acting bug bit her fairly early on, but it took her time to realize her true calling. Her Army background may have helped, because changing schools every two years was great for character building as she became naturally more adventurous and outgoing. She shares her first memory of acting in 3rd or 4th standard when she would finish her lunch quickly with her friends so that she could reenact scenes from last night’s TV serial or scenes from the hit film Kaho Na Pyaar hain when she was 10 years old. This is when she knew she liked to act and that it made her happy.
In the first few months in her legal job, Shraddha was enjoying it, learning a lot and knew that anybody who likes real estate law would kill for her job and that she should be very grateful. But the long hours and the commute meant that Shraddha could not act in as many plays as she would have liked. She says, “I started getting withdrawal symptoms and that’s when I realized I don’t want to do law and I want to act.” Even if she was paid more money, she realized a paycheck was not going to be enough and acting was her true calling!
MAKING THE SWITCH
Everyone advised her to think hard and carefully about making the switch from law to acting. Shraddha says her friends reminded her if she does switch to plays, she will make just Rs. 3000 per play and that’s just pocket money. And how many ads can you do per month? She was accustomed to a certain lifestyle because of her legal job which acting may not be able to sustain.
As Shraddha puts it “the conflict in my head was constant and I had to tell myself don’t be stupid. I had read about people who quit their jobs to pursue their passion and I wanted to do this only after saving enough in my bank so that I don’t even have to rely on my parents for a single recharge. “
She tried to push away the thought of acting full time as well, but every night before going to sleep, she would think that she is 23-24 now and is wasting her time. She needed to do acting full time now or she won’t be able to do this later.
As luck would have it, in January 2015 she got called for a casting for a Kannada film. The call seemed legit and mutual friends had suggested her name for the lead role. Shraddha says, “My mom actually told me stop thinking too much and just go for it.” In three days she had got the role – her first lead role in a Kannada film! She quit her job and turned to acting full time.
A STAR BEGINS TO SHINE
The irony is that after quitting her job and filming for the Kannada movie in April the project was later shelved for lack of funds. Shraddha meanwhile did 7-8 ads and almost a dozen plays this year. Finally she was noticed by a Malayalam director Asif Ali and cast as the second lead in Kohinoor and the film released in September.
Her big Kannada debut is now going to happen in 2016 when she shoots with acclaimed director of Lucia, Pawan Kumar who has cast her as his lead heroine in the film U Turn.
Shraddha says, “Today even if you wake me up at 2am and ask me to act I will happily go and act.” This is how she knows she has made the right choice. The money is more uneven with acting and she accepts that she can’t go out or shop as often as she used to, and expenses are constantly there, but she now has more time to focus on her health and stay fit as she awaits her big Kannada debut.
Shraddha says she has realized that this is what she was meant to do all her life. She loves being in front of the camera and can’t wait to be on set again and as she puts it, “I hope to do this as long as I can and I want to be known as an actor who can really perform.”
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