At the age of 19, Hyderabad boy Shravan Reddy packed his bags to come to Mumbai and become an actor. He went on to feature in some of the biggest shows made in television and now, has made his digital debut with ‘Thinkistaan’, a show that is streaming on MX Player. In this exclusive interview, he talks about losing muscles for the show, the secret behind his impeccable Hindi diction, experience of being a part of a popular reality show and making his debut in Telugu cinema.
You have done several shows on television but this is your first digital show. Is there a difference working in TV and digital?
The one big difference is that the content being made on the web is more detailed as the writers get more time to develop the script and as an actor, you get enough time to prepare for your character.
Now that you have stepped into the digital space, would you be interested in doing television in the future?
I have made this mistake of saying ‘no’ to a lot of important things that came my way in the past. I hope to do finite shows from this point onwards as they are more fun to work on. Working on shows that go on for a long period make it seem like a job.
You were nineteen when you came from Hyderabad to Mumbai to become an actor. Why did you never work in the Telugu film industry?
Actually, the moment I thought I want to become an actor, I came to Mumbai. Maybe, I connected more with the kind of content made here than the kind down south. I had hoped to come here and audition for films but back then, the whole casting process was very unorganised and it was difficult to even go to somebody and give an audition. I used to sit at home doing nothing. That is when I started going to audition for TV shows. I got through a few auditions and started working in television.
A lot of people tend to believe that people who come from the south are not fluent in Hindi. You seem to have an excellent command over the language. Interestingly, you play an English copywriter in the show.
I have Hindi newspaper delivered to my home every day. I only converse with my parents in Telugu as they cannot speak Hindi. Apart from them, I converse with everybody in Hindi. My director thought my Hindi must be bad as I am from the south and he was almost shocked to know that I have a good command over the language. For this show, I had to actually work on spoiling my Hindi. I stopped talking in Hindi and would converse only in English with people around me.
You had participated in the popular reality show ‘MTV Splitsvilla’. Do you think the show helped you get good opportunities as an actor?
I do not really think of that reality show as a milestone in my career. Yes, a lot of young people started recognizing me and there was some buzz on social media for a short period of time but that is about it. I do no think it helped me get more work. I still had to go for auditions and keep working on proving myself as an actor.
‘Thinkistaan’ revolves around the advertising industry. Did you have to do a lot of research to understand this world?
Our director N Padmakumar has been an ad filmmaker and hence, knew everything about the world he was telling this story in. I just followed his instructions.
The show is set in the 90s. Are there elements in the show which would make one reminisce about that period?
The director just told me not to build a body because back in the 90s, there was no trend of going to the gym and building a muscular body. I stopped going to the gym and restricted myself to doing basic workout at home. Then, we had to work on other aspects like styling, set design and other things which the technical department took care of.
The show talks about language and class divide too.
Yes, we cannot deny the fact that people are often discriminated because of their ability or the inability to speak fluent English. Sadly, even if you are good at what you do, unless you are a fluent English speaker, people do not take you seriously. I think things are getting better and people’s mindset is changing slowly.
What are you doing next?
I am in talks for a Telugu film. Hopefully, it will be finalised soon.