Chandini Chowdary on why she went against the norm to take up the Telugu film ‘Colour Photo’
A few years ago, Chandini Chowdary was the lone female student of Mechanical Engineering in a Bengaluru college. She enjoyed the welding, soldering and other strenuous practical sessions the course involved. She also began working on a project to harness wind energy in the rural sector, using minimal equipment. “My friend and I still have all the project details. Maybe someday we will execute it. I strongly believe in sustainable energy and lowering carbon footprint,” she says. That project might have led to a start-up, if she hadn’t entered Telugu cinema.
- Chandini says it was liberating to toss her phone aside and recoup from work. She caught up on reading and painting. She missed travelling though: “I had grand plans to visit Japan in April with my mom. But I have no complaints. The lockdown has been harsh on many people.”
- On her reading list: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is one of her favourites. She also appreciates Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. She’s currently reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and says, “His books, including The Power of Now, help me understand why people behave the way they do. Most often it has to do with them, than with you. That helped me be at peace during certain interactions.”
- A self-confessed Potterhead, she has fond memories of exploring the Harry Potter world at the Universal Studios, USA: “I did everything from drinking butter beer to collecting souvenirs.”
The actor, who has to her credit films such as Manu, Howrah Bridge and web series Gods of Dharmapuri and Masti’s, will be next seen in the film Colour Photo, which will stream on Aha from October 23.
Chandini had wanted “to be a heroine” even when she was in school. “I grew up in a middle class family in Vizag and I don’t know what attracted me to cinema,” she reminisces with a laugh. Her parents insisted she complete her education and she even finished engineering with distinction.
When she first had an opportunity to act in a short film (The Week; 2011), she did it quietly without informing anyone: “I didn’t own a smartphone back then. I saw the film on my personal computer and felt happy. I thought no one would notice, but word got around.” After the short film The Blind Date (directed by Subhash Chandra, co-starring Raj Tarun) went viral, she started getting noticed in public spaces. “I had no idea content uploaded on YouTube could become so popular,” she says.
Chandini got to be more than a glamorous heroine in some of her films. Phanindra Narisetti’s Manu had an arthouse appeal and didn’t earn a wide audience, but the industry took note of her as an actor of substance.
It wasn’t a coincidence that she teamed up with director Sandeep Raj and actor Suhas, who began their journey with short films, for Colour Photo.
Throwback to the 1990s
When Sandeep wanted a female lead who could portray an upper class, beautiful, intelligent and independent-minded young woman, he approached Chandini: “I was blown away by the story and how my character was written. The film begins in the 1990s and addresses class and caste issues; I portray a sensible, sensitive and intelligent woman. There’s something pure about the story and the semi-urban setting. I discussed with my mom and my aunt to know how they might have reacted in such fictitious situations,” says Chandini.
Naysayers felt it wasn’t a wise career move to act alongside comedian-turned-hero Suhas. “Whenever I’ve done films to impress others, I’ve failed. From the time I did Manu, my views changed. I realised the importance of making choices that I am happy to begin with.”
She hopes Colour Photo will open new doors for her in Telugu cinema. Next, she has a film directed by Sudheer Varma.