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The young and aspiring Mumbaikar, Riya Suman, has already made her mark with her very first film Majnu. She continues to wow us with her performance in Paperboy. Like many of her ilk, she too walked the advertisement path to reach the destination- cinema. She neither had a filmy background nor a nurturing godfather to fall back on. Hence, it is sheer talent, hard work and love for acting that helped her get to where she is. In a long distance interview, she talks of her short yet successful journey. Her voice was full of mirth and her talk full of exuberance. I cannot say if it was my being in the same age group that helped us strike an easy rapport or was it her warmth and ever welcoming attitude that kept the dialogue flowing. But it was a very happy & enriching experience to talk with the lady, with whom I hope to have a face-to-face some time in future. Wishing her all the best for her future, I present her here.

Tell us a little about yourself
I was born and brought up, and am based in Mumbai, where I did my schooling and college. My father Mr.Surendra Rai is a businessman and mother Mrs.Suman is a home-maker. I have a younger brother who is a writer and two younger sisters. Interestingly, all of us are ardent lovers of films. My parents are very supportive and have always allow me to pursue my dreams, whatever they are.

From Priyashri to Riya Suman
Yeah, I debuted as Priyashri. I faced an identity crisis as there are a lot of Priyas in the industry. Eventually, people started addressing me with my original name Riya and by the time we wrapped up Paperboy, I was Riya for everyone and people forgot Priyashri and I too chose to go with my original name.

How did you get into acting?
Well, I realised acting is my calling. I was regular at school and college plays and stage activities. It may sound ironical but I used to be shy and reserved but once But on stage I was totally uninhibited. I did a short acting course in the renowned Anupam Kher’s Acting School to hone my skills. But I must say that one can learn the craft only after reaching the sets. I am still a work in progress actor.

How did you bag your first film?
I had given a lot of auditions for endorsements and movies and had done quite a few ad campaigns. One of those stints brought me to Hyderabad, where I auditioned for Majnu. I met the director of the film through a coordinator. What was originally intended to be just a casual meeting turned into a full-length audition. I was given quite a few scenes to enact and had to go through the entire process of posing for stills etc. Later, director Virinchi Varma narrated the story of Majnu. I returned home and was back to college attaching very little importance to the entire thing. After a considerable time, and to my utter disbelief, I got a call asking me to fly to Hyderabad to meet the producer. And boom! I got the role.

Nothing that is out of the way. One has to go through the grind to march ahead on any path. I had given and still give a lot of auditions. Practice makes man perfect stands good here too.

I went through a gamut of experiences. The tests can be quite trying- like we have to act without taking any props or assistance and make it look real and believable, and now I have mastered the art. I did face a lot of rejections and heart burns but that is the part of the game.

On the Paperboy experience...
It was amazing! The entire cast was very young and passionate, like me. So I hit off very well with every one of them. Since we were all new to the field, we realised that we had to work extra hard to perfect our act. Off the sets too, we used to gather and have a free exchange of views. It was a great pleasure working with them. It is said the first impression lasts forever. So each of us tried to give our cent percent to our roles. Worth mentioning is our bonding, the team spirit and the creative exchange. The atmosphere was conducive for all of us to bloom.

Any fun memories?
It was fun and frolic all through. But I recall one rainy evening. As the cameras were not working, we were forced to take a break. We sat around talking, talking and talking over tea and snacks. Of course, it all revolved round films right from- Maya Bazaar to Arjun Reddy. Since I was a kind of an ‘alien’ in the industry, I got to learn a lot about the Telugu films. We did have a few Tamilians in the group who threw in a little about their industry as well.

Did you dub for the film? How was the experience?
Unfortunately, I did not. That regret I shall carry forever. I realised that dubbing is an essential part of performance. When I saw my character speaking on the screen, I realised the gap between my original voice and modulation and that of the person who dubbed.
I even pointed it out to my director that it was not me there. I hope to do my own dubbing very soon.

Filmi background or godfather must to be in the industry?
Undoubtedly, some handholding does help. But we have to do our homework and sweat it. One has to build good contacts by meeting people and make oneself visible through auditions, advertisements and circulating portfolios. Of course, it sounds like a cliche but I must say that hard work alone pays.

What about future?
A few projects are on the anvil. Two films- one Kannada and one Tamil- are in the offing. Nothing is finalized yet. Let me keep it under wraps till the time is ripe to announce them. A message for fans A very big, big, and big thank you. I am, indeed, overwhelmed by your love and adulation. I shall never let you down and always strive to live up to your expectations.

Fav actor: Leonardo Decaprio
Actor you want to work with: Mahesh Babu
Wardrobe essential: Sun glasses and sexy jackets
Most romantic thing done for you Some one flew in from a far off land just to meet me for a couple of hours
Inspiration: My father
Pillar of support: My family
Best advice you got: “One should not take anything for granted” - says my father.
Fav accessory for a girl: Jhumka and bindi and a big wide smile!
If not an actor: Entrepreneur
Define your style: Athleisure like dry fit stuff, hoodies, jackets on casual days. All dolled up when the occasion demands.

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