The Uyyala Jampala actress, who completes a decade in Telugu cinema, talks of her decision to turn a producer with Popcorn
Avika Gor, who shot to fame with Balika Vadhu in her younger years, has won many hearts in Telugu states with her performances. She turned a female lead with Uyyala Jampala and has managed to carve her niche despite the many highs and lows of the profession. She turns a producer with Popcorn, an elevator romance, that has her paired alongside Sai Ronak.
Excerpts from her interaction with the media:
Giving a nod to Popcorn
When director Murali came up with the script, I was hooked and thought it would provide me a good challenge as a performer. Majority of the film unfolds in an elevator and it’s not easy for audiences to be invested in a narrative featuring only two actors. The film is a good mix of mass masala and good content and I relished this challenge. From comedy to emotions to catchy dialogues, I and Sai Ronak had to hold the fort without any supporting actors.
Turning a producer
Right when I heard the script, I knew this is a film that would command a lot of time and attention from me. As actors, it’s easy to finish your work for the day but only when you’re a producer, you take care of the finer details - from the execution to the promotion and improvising the script. I always had plans to turn a producer and felt this was the right project to jump the gun.
Though my parents had apprehensions about my decision to turn a producer, they never objected to it. I don’t have any Godfathers in the industry and I could call myself an outsider. We discussed this in detail at home and when I told my family that film production was my dream, they couldn’t say no to it.Work on two other projects has commenced as well.
Sharing screenspace with Sai Ronak
He’s a jolly good co-star. I always want to be excited to come to sets everyday and Sai Ronak really made my job easier. He works very hard, remains humble and enthusiastic at the same time. We worked on Bro earlier and I was very impressed with his work ethic and I suggested his name for Popcorn too.
Giving a free rein to the director
I never interfered with the director’s job and I trusted him and the writer to translate their ideas onto the screen. It was no different in the case of Uyyala Jampala, Balika Vadhu or Bro. The directors in all these films were clear with their vision. I didn’t try to tinker with the story of Popcorn but remember giving suggestions to the director about how my character could behave in a few scenarios.
Here for passion, not money
It’s quite easy for me to make money by acting in a few commercial films but I’m here in it for my love for cinema. I enjoy my job and I don’t want to be stereotyped in the mainstream space alone. It’s precisely why I took up Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada despite featuring me in a brief role. I want to be known as a good performer.
If I’m given a choice between a project that offers good pay and another with a better role, I’ll choose the latter. I studied cinema in New York, did courses in editing, direction and it reflects my passion for the profession. I don’t want to be recognised as an actress alone and wish to reinvent myself over time. The decision to turn a producer was born out of that idea. I may direct a film soon too.
Shooting for Popcorn
A special elevator set was constructed amidst four walls for the film. Though I’ve acted in many films before and knew how most sequences are shot, this was a new experience for me. Everyday was a new beginning and I knew my dialogues only after coming to sets. I and Sai Ronak found the process very interesting and it helped that I worked with an enthusiastic team that filled the sets with great energy.
Absolutely no regrets about taking a break
I purposely took a break after Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada and I said no to many scripts that came my way later. I lost a lot of weight and groomed myself better for the big stage. It gave me enough time to introspect as an actor and think about the scripts I wish to be a part of.
People know me for the good roles I take up and I don’t want to lose out on that trust. I don’t mind working with newcomers. Though I may get awards, the biggest award I seek is the love from audiences. I’m now working on a handful of Telugu films and also the next instalment in the horror-franchise 1920.