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October 3, 2000


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'Tera Jadoo... made me restless'

"I saw the film. And I know what you need to work on now," declared physical trainer Santosh Kumar, leaning over the prone figure doing stomach crunches in time to pulsating music. Kirti Reddy

We all craned our heads to see who he was talking to and recognised Kirti Reddy, the slender young woman who was dancing her way into people's hearts all across the country in Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa.

Kirti was no stranger to all us members of Santosh's popular Figurine Fitness Centre in Bangalore. We knew her as the softspoken, retiring young person who fluidly completed two gruelling workouts, one after the other, every evening, while the rest of us barely gasped our way through one.

Though we never quite knew what Santosh was referring to, we do know that, Kirti's rise to filmstar status was sudden. And dramatic.

First, she made a mark in Telugu cinema. And then in Hindi, as Abhishek Bachchan's costar in Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa.

When the film was released, Kirti was already shooting in Europe for her second Hindi film, Ishq, Mohabbat, Pyaar, directed by Rajiv Rai.

Tera Jadoo did not do too well. And Kirti's second film will only be released next June.

The actress, for her part, says she already has many offers on hand. She is taking a sabbatical in Bangalore, trying to decide which Hindi film she should do next.

The elder of two daughters of an affluent Bangalore businessman Sunil Reddy and his dress designer wife Ahalya, Kirti lives with her family in a huge, sprawling house in Koramangala.

Kirti's grandfather, Ganga Reddy, is a Telugu Desam MP from Nizamabad, AP. It was Ahalya who first put the word out over three years ago, as most Bangalore journalists remember, that Kirti would like to get into films.

Kirti Reddy What makes Kirti different from other actresses of her generation is her clear focus on her career. She did not hesitate to drop out of college after she completed higher secondary, and spread the word in film circles that she was in the fray.

Now, this 20-year-old she has no time for studies and no regrets either, as she feels she has found her true calling.

Kirti spoke to's M D Riti at her father's house in Bangalore recently:

Were you always interested in joining films?

I was always drawn towards cinema since I was in the third standard, I wanted to become an actress. I just did not know whether I would ever achieve my ambition.

I was never confused about what I wanted to do. Never any doubt. That is why I stopped studying after I completed my HSC from Valley School, Bangalore. And I have no regrets about my decision.

How did you actually break into cinema?

Well, we spread word while I was still at school that I was interested. Soon, industry people started coming to see our cultural programmes which I participated in.

Then, Nasser, of Tamil cinema, cast me as heroine in his film Devathai, after just one meeting, for which I flew down to Chennai.

It was pure luck, really. I never had to knock on doors or struggle for my first role.

Was your family happy with your decision to abandon studies in favour of cinema? It is a brave decision for a young woman to take, and very risky.

Initially, they were unsure, because we are far removed from the film world.

I come from a very protective family, I was very shy. But when my Mom realised that this was the only vocation I would be happy in, she supported me fully.

The decision (to join films) was mine. Not hers.

Now my family is very proud of me. Of the fact that I had the courage to take the decision and succeed in what I set out to do.

Is your grandfather, Ganga Reddy, happy, too?

Actually, he was unsure about whether this was the right move for me to make. Now he is happy with what I am doing, with the fact that I am working and am independent.

You see, I started with Devathai, then followed with Ninaivirukkum Varai, another Tamil film starring Prabhu Deva.

Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa I then did Tolli Prema, a Telugu film with Chiranjeevi's younger brother Pavan Kalyan, a box office hit, for which I also won a Nandi Award. I had a guest appearance in a Nagarjuna film.

And then came Tera Jadoo.

We hear that Tolli Prema led you to your role in Tera Jadoo,because Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek liked it?

They did. Amitji and his whole family liked the film.

But the decision to cast me in Tera Jadoo was made by Vashu Bhagnani, its producer. He met me in Bombay, when I came here for a visit.

He was a little hesitant at first because I was a South Indian. But then I guess his doubts cleared when he met me.

Wasn't Tera Jadoo a remake of Tolli Prema?

No, but it's not an original script, either. It was inspired by the English Picture Perfect.

Now, Tolli Prema is being remade in Hindi with me as heroine.

You were missing at the US premiere of Tera Jadoo and apparently hurt your director and producer?

See, I could not go for that premiere because I was in Europe for three months on a start to finish shooting schedule for Rajiv Rai.

I just couldn't leave in-between -- I had committed that time to Rajiv Rai.

Tera Jadoo was supposed to have been released in June 2000, but was delayed to accommodate Refugee.

It was finally released in August, which came bang in the middle of my schedule for Ishq. Rajiv could not let me go because he had taken permission for shooting in certain locations and so on.

Who are your costars in Rai's film?

There are three: Aftab Shivdasani, Arjun Rampal and Sunil Shetty. It is a beautiful script, but I cannot tell you more just now.

The film will only be released June 2001, although the shooting has been completed. Rajiv needs time for post-production.

It will be ready for release only by next summer -- exam time for students and not a great time to release a new film.

Anyway, Rajiv always releases his films in June.

Kirti Reddy Are you happy with Tera Jadoo and the response to it?

It has made me more restless. And aware -- that I have a long way to go to become really good.

People know me now. But I know I must be better next time round.

I feel I have been recognised, that people believe I will be doing good work in the future.

But Tera Jadoo did not do all that well at the BO… And it certainly projected Abhishek more than it did you?

Oh no! I got great publicity, considering that I was a newcomer.

Nobody knew about me before the film. Now, everyone knows me. I am very satisfied with the way the film did and the mileage it got me.

What next?

I have a lot of offers from Hindi and Telugu, even Tamil films.

But I have decided to concentrate on Hindi at present. I have rejected every one of the many Kannada offers that I got. So nobody asks me for them any longer. I have not firmed up any Hindi films yet, though.

Will you be based in Mumbai or in Bangalore now?

Home is always Bangalore for me. But I will be getting my own place in Mumbai soon as I find more work there.

Is it true that your mother always travels with you to locations, and that she makes all your career decisions?

My mother does always travel with me. It costs her a lot -- she is torn between her boutique, her home, my little sister and me.

Right now, I need her very much, so she is with me when I travel.

She does not interfere with my acting, just gives me moral support.

What are your future plans? What about marriage? Academics? An alternative career?

I would like to continue to be an actress for as long as I can. You never know when you will need to sign off. I have no time for studies now.

Acting is not just facing the camera, you know. You have to work hard at maintaining your body, your voice, your looks.

I would never dream of an alternative career at any time. I am too happy doing what I am doing now.

As for marriage, it's far too early to think about it now. My family dreams of eventually seeing me happily settled.

But that won't be for a long time now.

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