Reeling in Success - Sanjjanaa

Sanjjanaa has bagged a pivotal role in Pawan Kalyan’s Sardar Gabbar Singh. She’s ‘reeling’ on the recent success of her Kannada film Ram-Leela and working in six others. She speaks to us about her career, and her business venture …
What’s the good news?
With Ram-Leela receiving a good response at the box office everything seems to have nicely fallen into place. Suddenly there’s a huge rush of positive energy with its success. Apart from this, Bengaluru-560023, a remake of Chennai-28 releasing this week is very much in the news – and there are more releases in the offing!         
You have landed a pivotal role in Pawan Kalyan’s Sardaar Gabbar Singh. Excited?  
Of course! I knew about being shortlisted for the role but for a few days everything was put on hold as there were other contenders. I literally had my heart in my mouth and sleepless nights and jitters. I’m a big Pawan Kalyan fan and landing a meaty role in his own home production is a dream come true.  
What was your first reaction?
I was told by the direction department to ‘hold your horses’. And when I got to know of the
go-ahead I wept for joy; it takes a lot for me to cry as I’m a strong person. Again, when I gave the news to my mom I was moist-eyed and she asked me, ‘Why are you crying?’
Was acting an accidental outing or did you always have it working at the back of your mind?
I have since childhood had an independent streak, and resolved to live on my own earnings and not depend on my parents. At the age of 12, I started working and was picked up as a model.
One thing led to another. In Class 11 I got an opportunity to debut as an actor and said why not! More than anything, driving to college in a car bought by my own money felt so cool.
How did you get into Telugu movies?
After a gap of a year or a year and a half, I finished school and got to debut in a Telugu film -- Bujjigadu. Since then there has been no looking back. I have been busy with Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu films and the journey’s been pretty good so far.   
What would you rather choose -- a good film or a commercial 100-crore film?
India lives and dies for commercial cinema. Art films have limited audiences. As an actor your work has to reach everybody. I would unhesitatingly go for a 100-crore film or box-office hit over a critically acclaimed movie. But doing a good movie once in a while is fine ... 

Where do you see yourself heading?
I don’t think there’s too much one can control as an actress in this industry or pretty much plan your destination. It depends upon the time and opportunity that you get and how much you can make of it. What you could do is give your best and leave the rest to destiny.
I’m satisfied and happy to be here for long. Many actors don’t survive more than two to five years. I’m glad I’m here and still working.
You would be starting your first business venture – a yoga academy in December. Tell us about it and how important fitness is to you?
Fitness is as important as breathing and eating. I chose to venture into business with Akshar Power Yoga Academy as I could relate to it. Mine would be the ninth franchise of the academy.    
I’m a student of the academy led by Grand Master Akshar. It’s a household name and we look forward to training a lot more people. I personally believe power yoga brings a sense of awakening. It makes you an aware, positive and an active person.  
I also love dancing. I have installed a huge mirror at my place. I just put on some great music and dance away. That really keeps me happy and fit.
Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam -- how do you manage to work in so many languages?
I’m comfortable with languages and can speak as many as eight. I find it refreshing and exciting to be working in different languages. Just when I think I have an overdose of Kannada luckily there’s a Telugu shoot happening. And when I have had a lot of Hyderabad I’m in Kochi in 'God’s Own Country' at the beach delighting in the fresh air.
I learnt Telugu after coming to the industry, and can speak Malayalam and Kannada too. I love languages and take pains to learn them well.   
The industry looks glamorous from the outside; but tell us about the toil behind the appearance.
There have been times when your movie doesn’t work and you stop getting calls for a new film. By God’s grace I’ve been fortunate to work in different film industries and have had multiple releases simultaneously.
There was one phase when I did a heroine-centric film that didn’t work, and for about three months had no new projects. Luckily, during that period another film of mine released and it did well, and things were back on track. Yes, there are dark and gloomy days, but one needs to work out and stay disciplined. You must believe in yourself and be ready for a good opportunity.
There’s a lot of effort that goes off-screen. You pretty much work like a labourer is what my mom says. Sometimes you only get to sleep for two and a half hours. It’s hectic and crazy and despite all of this you need to look beautiful.    
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
My salary, which I don’t compromise on. I’m an expensive cat to cast. But I give it my 100 per cent. The other enjoyable part is the fan following and the recognition apart from the business-class treatment you get on a daily basis.
How important is it to be on good terms with peers?
More than just getting on it’s important to relate as good human beings. Whether they are peers or not, you need to be humble and nice to everyone.      --- as told to Rahul