A graduate of Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts, I completed my education in Chennai and toured extensively with the renowned Kalakshetra dance troupe both in India and abroad before joining films.
My career in Indian cinema (1985 – 1992) had me star in 50 films as leading lady in five Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi). I moved to Hyderabad from Chennai after my marriage to co-star Akkineni Nagarjuna and deciding to take a long break from the hectic demands of cinema.
After the move I became aware to the plight of animals lying injured and ill, abused on the streets of Hyderabad. In response I co-founded (along with my husband) Blue Cross of Hyderabad, a registered non-profit animal welfare organization that works for the welfare of animals in Hyderabad and extends support to other welfare groups in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
I have worked for the last 21 years in various non-governmental and governmental organizations for social change addressing a number of issues such as: animal welfare, wildlife protection, girl child welfare, rural women’s empowerment, HIV awareness, and protection of the environment. More recently I was appointed ambassador for the Swachch Bharat Mission by the Ministry for Urban Development, Govt.of India and I still remain an active volunteer for the Clean India Mission.
In 2012 I returned to the film industry with “Life is beautiful” by Director Sekhar Kammula, and played cameo roles in Telugu and Hindi films as well as recently completing 100 episodes for a popular Tamil Television Series. My next film project is with Mr.Kamal Hassan in Telugu and Tamil, due to roll in February 2016.
My background in both Films and Television, as well as social commitment, led my family to appoint me as Honorary Director of Annapurna International School for Film and Media. In this new role, I seek to fulfil Dr.A.N.R’s dream to guide future generations on a skilled and educated path for professions within Film & Media.
As a film personality, I like to be constantly available to bring current issues to focus for the benefit of society.
My personal interests vary and include activities such as reading, Vipassana meditation, traveling and visiting the cinema.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
The cause of animal equality and the environment both ask each of us to take a slower pace and question our choices to being more inclusive, aware and compassionate. I constantly advocate taking things slower and being more aware of the impact we have on our surroundings, be it the environment, people or other living things. This will always be my driving force. For more information on animals do check out our website.
December 1st 2015 also marks a special day with the Nationwide launch of TeachAIDS HIV education animation materials; A conclusion to 6 years of efforts from TeachAIDS India Trust trying to bring knowledge based education to students on HIV prevention across the country. I am currently a Trustee for TeachAIDS along with Founder Dr.Piya Sorcar. These valuable and life saving materials are available for free to download from teachaids.org.
As Director of AISFM, a growing Film and Media institute at Annapurna Studios, Hyderabad, I am delighted to support and guide young people in their education and professional pursuits. I invite young people with creative talent to visit our website and see if the study of Media calls them.
I have learnt that the best way to face a challenge is to look at it as an opportunity to learn, to connect, to regroup and assess what you need to work on, and whom to turn to for support. The truth is that challenges are inevitable, success never final and failure never fatal. If we learn to sail through each with an eye and ear to learn and grow, everything works out ok.
Gossip, blame, fame, good name – each rides it’s time out and if we take one, we must accept the other!
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Personally my greatest achievements are to see the younger generation, people I have mentored, do well and rise beyond where I started. I love it when I have nothing to do but sit back and appreciate seeing the younger generation excel and make me step aside. My heart swells with joy and gratitude of a life meaningfully spent.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I wouldn’t change my life for anything! I love what I do and want to keep doing this till the day I die.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Countless things have been inspiration to me, people, places, animals, music, movies, good deeds, inspire me constantly. Life is so full of inspiration it is amazing!
What does the future hold for you?
I work towards a future that holds hope, peace, love, compassion- a world that has gone beyond petty differences of religion and fanaticism. A future where humanity gives importance to preserving this wonderful planet we call home.
Find out more about teachaids and Blue Cross Hyderabad here.
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi Lead Ashish Bhardwaj.