Ahead of the release of her Telugu film ‘Miss India’, Keerthy Suresh discusses her transformation to portray a suave business woman
Keerthy Suresh in ‘Miss India’
The Telugu film Miss India, directed by debutant Narendra Nath and headlined by Keerthy Suresh, will stream on Netflix from November 4, along with the dubbed versions in Tamil and Malayalam. The film traces the journey of Samyukta, a young middle class woman who has entrepreneurial dreams, moves to the US and launches a tea brand called ‘Miss India’, bolstered by the support of her grandfather (Rajendra Prasad). She takes on another Indian origin entrepreneur played by Jagapathi Babu, who sells coffee.
The trailer hints at a ‘mass masala’ style face-off between the two rivals. “Honestly, I didn’t expect this tremendous response for the trailer. Naren was confident that these ‘mass’ moments will make the audience cheer and clap. One normally sees these face-offs in a hero-centric film. Watching the trailer in my home theatre, I was so happy that it turned out well,” says Keerthy, speaking over the phone after a press conference.
This is the second OTT release for Keerthy, after the Tamil film Penguin in mid June. The digital space doesn’t trigger conversations about opening weekend box office collections. Nevertheless, Keerthy admits she goes through pre-release jitters: “Digital platforms have a global reach. There’s quick analysis and word of mouth feedback; that’s enough to give me a sleepless night,” she says with a laugh.
Miss India was the first film she signed after Mahanati (2018). She had wanted something lighthearted after the Savitri biopic, but female-centric films like Miss India, Penguin and the forthcoming Good Luck Sakhi where she plays a shooter from rural Telangana came her way. She took it as a recognition of her work in Mahanati and was game for new challenges. Now, she is also a part of Mahesh Babu starrer Sarkaru Vaari Paata (Telugu), Rajinikanth starrer Annatthe (Tamil), Mohanlal starrer Marakkar (Malayalam), apart from Rang De (Telugu) with Nithiin. “I chose the best of what was offered to me,” she says.
Keerthy had a break of nine months after Mahanati and saw it as an opportunity to prioritise health. “I had never worked out earlier; I was lazy,” she confesses. But when she heard how Naren wanted her to be styled for Miss India, like a chic businesswoman, Keerthy wanted to be fitter to carry off the western clothes.
“I drank three litres of water per day; I followed my regular South Indian diet but ate more proteins and fewer carbs. I love to eat and did not deprive myself,” Keerthy says. Within weeks, she got addicted to her fitness regime.
Her love for food shows on her Instagram account, where she has archived stories on food: “I follow a healthy diet. Occasionally, I allow myself small portions of indulgences like French fries.”
The physicality of being Samyukta was one part of her preparation for Miss India. She also watched an interview of Indra Nooyi which Naren had shared: “It helped me observe how a successful businesswoman conducts herself and speaks to the point,” says Keerthy.
With the help of stylist Indrakshi Pattanaik who had worked with her in Mahanati, Keerthy went through the five different stages of being Samyukta — as a middle class Indian woman, when she is new in the US, the gradual transformation as she gets acclimatised to her surroundings, turning an entrepreneur and finally calling the shots. “When we discussed costumes, we would refer to phase 1, 2, etc. We also mostly shot linearly, so that helped get into the groove,” says Keerthy.
Keerthy had taken up a course in fashion design before she became an actor. However, she says it hasn’t made it easier: “I can judge what looks good on others easily than I can do for myself, it takes time to understand what flatters your body. I love wearing sarees but in this film, I got to wear just one. I am mostly in western outfits, which I haven’t done before.”
Straddling films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, Keerthy says she has been busy for years and the lockdown was an opportunity to slow down: “I must have been in high school when I last spent many months with my family. I worked out, learnt yoga, played the violin, cooked and spent time with family and friends during the lockdown,” she says.
She has returned to work, to shoot for her Telugu film Rang De, and is likely to begin Sarkaru Vaari Paata in January 2021.