By Radhika Sharma
New Delhi, June 18: It takes one role for an artist to receive popularity and recognition, and south star Keerthy Suresh already has that as Savitri in "Mahanati", the 2018 biopic of the legendary Tamil actor.
But Suresh, who also won the best actress National Award for the Tamil-Telugu film, says "Mahanati" was just the beginning.
The 27-year-old actor, daughter of Malayalam producer G Suresh Kumar and Tamil actor Menaka, is now one of the most sought after names in the south film industry.
Things have changed "beautifully" post "Mahanati", she said.
"I'm choosing scripts more wisely. I wanted to do something very commercial after that but it didn't go according to plan. I got more offers of women-centric films. But I took my time.
"I was particular about what I should do next. I didn't deliberately take a break, but it just happened. And the kind of commercial films I got then was different. Generally, you might not get meaty roles in commercial films but after ('Mahanati') I got some good offers," Suresh told PTI in an interview.
In the same year, she also starred in Tamil language political drama "Sarkar", with Vijay and followed it up with a cameo in 2019's "Manmadhudu 2", a Telugu rom-com with Nagarjuna Akkineni and Rakul Preet Singh in the lead.
The actor said though the team created magic with "Mahanati", she wants to keep exploring different characters.
"I want to keep redefining myself. I can't have just one iconic character and feel that's just about it. I feel like that's just the beginning for me to explore a lot of new things. 'Mahanati' is one experience that people will never forget. I'm very happy I have such a film in my career. But I have to keep exploring and do different things."
Now the actor is gearing up for mystery thriller "Penguin", her first film in about one-and-a-half years.
The film shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu follows a mother (Suresh) who is trying to find her son when there is a serial killer at large.
Suresh said she was looking for a strong woman-centric film after "Mahanati" and thought this could be the one.
"When I heard the narration, it was so interesting. The content is so strong. It is an emotional thriller. It was challenging, so I wanted to try it out," she added.
"Penguin" is directed by debutant Eashvar Karthic and produced by Karthik Subbaraj, in association with Passion Studios. The film will stream on Amazon Prime Video from June 19.
Suresh said she loves working with first-time directors as they bring in a new perspective.
"You can actually learn a lot from that. Eashvar doesn't have that film background. He has worked in the bank sector. That was my first question to him: 'Banks to the cinema, how is it possible?' He told me films are his passion. Eashvar not only delivered the narration well but also executed the film," she added.
She said she would love to collaborate with the director on another project soon.
"His vision is great and he delivered one step ahead of what he promised. I loved working with his team - the DOP, the editor. I keep telling them we will have to get together again for another film."
"Penguin" was up for a theatrical release but the film is now directly arriving on Amazon due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Suresh said getting a digital release for the movie during the ongoing health crisis is the best foot forward.
"The current situation is something no one expected. But at this point in time we don't know when the cinema halls will open and when people will go to watch films. For me, having a release at this time is great because it's already been a long time. I'm happy about it.
"The film is also premiering in 200 odd countries, so its reach will be huge. This will be like a new trendsetting thing. I'm also excited as it's my first digital release," she said.
Suresh said it is still going to take some time for the situation to go back to normal.
"We still are fighting very hard. Some states are so badly affected. I'm just waiting to jump outside my house," she added.
Her upcoming projects include Malayalam film "Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham", Tamil film "Annaatthe" with superstar Rajinikanth, and Telugu titles such as "Miss India", "Rang De", "Good Luck Sakhi", directed by Nagesh Kukunoor.