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Suma Finds the Right Role for the Actor in Her

Suma Kanakala

The top TV host, anchor and producer Suma Kanakala adds yet another feather to her cap – Telugu movie ‘Jayamma Panchayati’ where she plays the lead role

Suma Kanakala is best introduced as the super star of Telugu television entertainment. As a TV host, anchor, producer, actress she has been reigning the entertainment scene for most part of her career that started when she was in college. Amongst the many records – her game show ‘Star Mahila’ on ETV stands tall and ran between August 2008 and January 2019. Her acting stint goes back to 80s with Doordarshan. She even acted in a critically acclaimed series ‘Amaravathi’ directed by celebrated son of the land, award winning director Shyam Benegal. From television, to YouTube and now OTT, she has been there and done that. Today Suma Kanakala has become a name to reckon with for any prestigious film event or an interview or a show. Her YouTube channel just adds to the expansive work that she does. The latest feather in her cap is the Telugu movie ‘Jayamma Panchayati’ where she plays the lead role. As she awaits the release in April, she gives a peek into this new phase of her life and lets us in on how she packs in her family (her husband Rajeev is an actor and she has two children – son and daughter) and fun into a super busy day.

Suma KanakalaWas it a conscious decision to get into films?

My base was acting from where anchoring came about. Somewhere there has been a desire to act. From that desire came this.

The film happened when I was looking for something to do. Pre-releases and events had become monotonous. Some offers came but they did not excite me. ‘Jayamma Panchayati’ has a raw rustic village atmosphere backed drama. The film does not have too many commercial elements. It reminded me of ‘C/o Kancherlapalem’. It is very rare that a female oriented film is written in Telugu films. The story revolves around this strong woman called Jayamma, who has a mind of her own.  So, when the director approached me, I thought why not give it a try. The shooting was in a village in Srikakulam that went on for 40 days. Initially I was tensed if I would be able to do it. It was shot using sync sound. I had to learn the slang. I als

I had to try to make people accept me in the new role as they are so used to listening to me in a different way. I began to learn the slang from a theatre actor Laxman Rao.

Now, I am open to playing different characters and with good directors, who have a grip on their story.

Jayamma PanchayatiHow was it to shoot in Srikakulam?

I feel these parts are not explored much. In fact, one of the episodes was shot in this forest called Donbe. It’s beautiful with streams and waterfalls. The story is based on real life, and the director belongs to Srikakulam and he knows it. And, he wanted to shoot here. It was very good. But because of Covid it went on sporadically for eight months.

You also sang one song for your film!

It was I who requested Keeravani garu to compose a song for me. He suggested rap. I come wearing Chitragaru’s mask and remove it and begin to rap. The biggest compliment was when Chitragaru after seeing the video called me and complimented me. She said she was happy to see me so lively and singing.

You do so much – acting, anchoring, production and your YouTube channel – How do you manage?

There is a time I felt there was too much I was taking up. I was doing close to 54 episodes in 30 days. I was crazily running around. On March 22, 2020 it was my birthday. PM announced Janata Curfew, and next I knew we were all at home. This was the time I took a pause and looked back, I cut down on my shows, and suddenly I had time to do all that I had planned to do. I learnt to work smartly and I finished my work much faster.

Even during pandemic I used to plan my day in advance including the time it takes to cook if I am going to do the cooking. Everything including fun is planned to the T. I started to have more time to even write scripts for my show, plan my YouTube channel, get back to learning Kuchipudi…

What kept you going in your life?

My discipline. If I say I will be somewhere at a certain time, come what may – I am there and those few times I wasn’t I used to inform ahead of time. That quality kept me going. Once I give my word I take it seriously, even if it is a word given to myself.