There’s many things actor Shriya Saran can do. Apart from dabbling in movies, she is multilingual (Shriya knows at least five languages, and counting!), an experienced diver, an adventurous traveller, a trained Kathak dancer, and an absolute charm to talk to. In an exclusive chat with us, she gives us a glimpse of her many avatars. By Bayar Jain
1. Having grown up in Haridwar, how has the shift to working in the Tamil, Telugu or Malayalam film industry been like for you?
It’s the same everywhere. It depends on the kind of movies you do and the kind of people you work with. It’s interesting when you go from one language to another because this changes the flavour and the people. As you keep doing movies in different languages, it kind of widens your horizons. But, other than that, I don’t think there is much change. At the end of the day, you’re still making movies for the same country.
2. Your family is from Uttar Pradesh, while your husband is Russian. How do you bring the best of both the worlds in your daily life?
I was born in Haridwar, I’ve lived in Delhi, and now — Mumbai. My husband happens to be from Russia. Yeah, they are different cultures, but the values are the same. It’s interesting to learn about each other’s cultures; there’s always something new.
3. You’re constantly on the move for various shoots. In what way does the culture of these places influence your work?
Every time we travel anywhere, you go and meet people, you learn something, and you learn their mannerisms. Even basic things like language help in learning about people, about how they think, and what their perspectives in life are. It’s always interesting to meet people who travel more, have more experiences, and are reinventing themselves. Any money spent on travelling is actually invested. Any time you spend travelling and meeting new people, you actually grow a lot.
4. Which international destination ranks highest on your list, and why?
I couldn’t pick one destination, but I feel like growing up in Goa laid a lot of influence in my life. It changed my perspective towards life. Back in the day, Goa was magical. It had its own music, and its own cuisine. After Goa, if I had to go anywhere, it would be London.
Currently, I’m in South America, and I love it. I love Oaxaca, which is in Mexico. There is a small town called Cusco, in Peru, which is amazing. When I go to Saint Petersburg, I like going to the countryside. It’s very beautiful and very green. Barcelona has a very interesting flavour since people from around the world come to live here.
5. Right after your wedding, you flooded your Instagram with pictures from places like Ibiza, Barcelona, and even Egypt. Which places did you visit during this globetrotting adventure and which one stood out the most for you?
I’ve been travelling since I was 17, and I don’t think I’ve lived in any place for more than two weeks! It had nothing to do with my wedding. I’ve always loved travelling.
6. You’re also a scuba diver. Which is your dream diving destination?
I think my dream diving destination is where I met Andrei [Koscheev]. We met accidentally in Maldives while we were diving. I like diving, but most importantly, I like seeing the ocean life. I’ve been diving for almost 10 years now. One of my favourite diving destinations is the Papua islands, right above Australia. It has beautiful sea-life. You see clams with electric currents, carpet sharks, snakes, and even hammerhead sharks. It’s stunningly beautiful. But, one of the most unheard and untouched places, which not many people talk about, is Lakshadweep. I have even had some of my most beautiful times in Andaman. Andaman is stunningly beautiful — very raw and very peaceful.
7. There’s a lot of new travel trends to look out for in 2020. Any trend you’re excited to try?
I think its important to properly research about where you’re travelling and what you’ll be doing. Know the basic language, so that you know what people speak over there. I think these things are important to know. Rest, I feel like you should go with the flow. The best way to do it is to just go, and not plan too much. Unless, you’re going to a country that doesn’t speak your language at all! Just go and meet new people. I cycle a lot wherever I can. That way you really get to see the city. Just carry good shoes! In Mexico, we took a cycle and went around the city. We went from small taco places to store joints. It’s really the best thing to do.
8. Which is the weirdest food you’ve had so far, and where?
I was born a vegetarian. Somewhere along the way, I started eating meat. But for the last four months me and my husband have completely left meat. Now, it just gives me a different perspective. Now, I have started exploring a different kind of food, and have become very fond of avocado. I even miss my mango-days back in India. I’ve started eating a lot of potatoes and tomatoes. I’ve started tasting food differently. I’ve realised that you have to be a really good chef to make vegetarian food; it’s not easy. It’s not like meat which you can leave in the oven for five hours and get a good dish. After turning vegetarian, I have come back to Indian food a lot because I feel it is one of the most balanced cuisines. When it comes to vegetarian, it can be very good if cooked well. One dish that I find really interesting is Syrniki, which is Russian. Then, every time I eat patatas bravas — which is a very famous Spanish dish — I think of aloo bhujia that my mum used to make, only with different sauce.
9. Conscious travel is on the rise. What’s your take on it?
It’s very important to be aware of what we’re doing to the environment. You feel it every year with the amount of glaciers melting. It’s very scary, actually. When you dive in Malaysia, and Thailand, you can see a lot of plastic in the ocean! It’s heartbreaking. You know how you make smoking a shame? Maybe you can make plastic cutlery a shame too!
I try to use less plastic when I travel. I always carry my own miniature shampoo containers when travelling. I even make cotton bags and carry them along when I go shopping. I try to take a cycle or walk as much as I can. Can we stop flying? Yes, probably we can.
10. What has your experience been like in Barcelona so far?
Barcelona is a crazy city! You have to learn Spanish, which I’m learning now. The food is amazing here.
11. Where are you headed next to?
Well, I am coming to India this month for my brother’s wedding. I will go to Jaipur then. The summer in Russia is beautiful. There’s lots of art, and lots of culture. They have great modern art galleries. Every year, I go to the museum in St. Petersburg. It’s stunning! I’m looking forward to go for a ballet performance in St. Petersburg this year.