Gouri Kishan was seen as the young Jaanu in Sharwanand-Samantha Ruth Prabhu's 'Jaanu' (2020). Earlier, she played Trisha Krishnan's young version in '96' (2018).
'Sridevi Shoban Babu', starring Santosh Shoban in the lead, is her first full-fledged Telugu movie. Seen also in 'Karnan' and 'Master' in Tamil, Gouri has also done a Tamil-language anthology movie titled 'Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa'. On OTT, 'Paper Rocket', released last year on ZEE5, is her first outing.
A graduate in Triple major (Journalism, Psychology and English), Gouri talks about playing a city-bred girl in the February 18th release, 'Sridevi Shoban Babu'. She also talks about her journey in films so far.
When I was in 12th Standard, I heard about the audition for '96'. In our family, we used to watch 2-3 movies at home every week. Yet, becoming an actress was never my dream. It was a long shot. When I heard about the audition, my parents were very supportive given our interest in films. Moreover, I am a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. I auditioned for the role. Eight months later, I was asked to participate in four more rounds of auditions. Since Trisha Krishnan is tall, they were not that happy with me. But the director of that film liked my subtle performance. That's how my debut Tamil movie '96' happened. When the movie came out, people in my circle were surprised that I had such a significant role. Everyone could see a Jaanu in their own lives after watching the movie. It has been four and a half years and my identity is still defined by the character Jaanu in '96'.
Coming to 'Sridevi Shoban Babu', people are going to see a new Jaanu. I have got an urbane, progressive role in the movie. The character is entirely different from what I played in 'Jaanu'. It's a fun film that doesn't stereotype me. It's a commercial entertainer that the Telugu audience would love to watch. It's an exciting beginning for me in Telugu.
She (her character in the movie) is a city girl like me. I was brought up in Chennai. She is headstrong and at the same time has got a sensitive side. She is straightforward but not egoistic. Santosh's character comes from a village. Both are able to find a commonality. Their love is also unique. I could see myself as a Hyderabadi girl going to a village while doing the film. Naga Babu sir plays my father. I am close to him in the film, much like I am close to my father in real life.
Director Prasanth Kumar Dimmala is a fantastic storyteller. In spite of the language barrier, I could see the story come alive.
It's a compliment that people think I am looking like how Samantha Ruth Prabhu looked in the initial days of her career. It increases my responsibility to pick strong roles and give back to the audience the love I am receiving.
Santosh has always made unconventional choices. I call him the Ayushman Khurrana of Tollywood. He has picked characters that mainstream actors would not like to. Incidentally, he was my super senior in college. He is an effortless actor whose talent I admire a lot. He works really hard. He does the preparations that he needs to.
My life changed after '96'. I later did two Tamil movies and a Malayalam movie after that, besides 'Jaanu' in Telugu. Then Covid-19 happened. After the lockdown was lifted, I started getting work. I wanted to be a journalist at one point of time. I had low attendance as a graduate. As an actor, I am giving my 100%. I am learning new languages. I am working on language because the knowledge of the language helps in giving your best shot. I am also doing some writing because good writers make for good actors.
My biggest fear as an actor is over-acting (laughs). It's good that my director too is against animated acting. For 'Sridevi Shoban Babu', I had to come out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed playing a bubbly, commercial role.
Producer Sushmitha Konidela akka is a team player. Being a fashion designer, she has an eye for what needs to be done. She doesn't think that she is a producer and therefore she shouldn't do some things. She knows Tamil and I used to interact with her and discuss. She was always encouraging and warm. At one point, she had to urgently shop for a costume and she did it by herself. She is always approachable and always involved on set. She respects the director's creative space. At the same time, she is there to support him.
After my first film '96', people started following me on Instagram in lakhs. I receive messages from audiences from States like Odisha. I don't have a social media PR or strategy. I studied Psychology and I am using the platform in the best way possible. As a journalism graduate, I feel strongly about issues like mental health during the pandemic. A Hollywood actor took up child porn as a core issue and has been speaking against it for 15 years now. My uncle advised me to think about what I feel strongly about. I had acne and had a year of struggling with my skin. I never spoke about it at first. At one point, I started speaking about it via social media. I wrote about insecurities as an actor in a series of posts. People could relate to my stories, as they too went through a similar experience in life.
Ram Charan sir is my favourite actor in Telugu. We all look up to the Telugu film industry for the kind of movies that Rajamouli sir makes.