EXCLUSIVE: Sandhya Raju on winning National Film Award for Natyam: It will get me a lot of respect in industry
“I’m proud to be an Indian and a Telugu girl,” says Sandhya Raju whose film Natyam has won 2 awards at the 68th National Film Awards– Best Choreography to Sandhya Raju, & Best Make-up Artist to TV Rambabu. In an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla, Sandhya expressed her happiness about this big win and remembered her late Guru Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam.
“We were completely caught off guard but of course, everyone is very proud of what we have achieved. I will take this moment to remember my late guru Padma Bhushan awardee Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam,” said Sandhya Raju who donned multiple hats for her film Natyam- as a production designer, stylist, choreographer and lead actor and even as a producer.
As a woman producer, to win 2 National awards for my very first movie is extremely validating
Recalling the days when she turned down her parents’ offer to study abroad to learn Kuchipudi dance in India, Sandhya shared, “I started learning dance from the age of 10. We used to walk past his photo of the winning Padma Bhushan certificate every day before going to the hall. I always knew I was learning dance from one of the greatest dancers and choreographers. I hope my Guru up will be proud about it.”
Sandhya thinks it is the right time for women producers. While it is said to be a male dominating world, Sandhya Raju shares her thoughts on why it is important to encourage more women to become film producers. “It is a very nice moment as a woman producer and I hope more women are encouraged to take risks and become producers of beautiful films. As a woman producer, to win 2 National awards for my very first movie is extremely validating and I’m sure it will get me a lot of respect in the film industry,” said Sandhya who has made it big and struggled her way to win National Film Awards. Her father is PR Venketrama Raja, the Chairman of Ramco Group. Her father-in-law, Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, is the founder of Satyam Computers Services Ltd.
However, it was equally a challenging time for her as a dancer and actor. “It was a very high stressed period of my life because I had to juxtaposition being selfish as an artist. You also want to take care of yourself because self-care is important as an artist, in terms of how you look, the expression you are giving to the camera, and how much you can grab the attention on the screen and at the same time I had to play the opposite role, of taking care of the film and cast. I cannot think only about myself but also about what the director wanted at the same time. That was the most challenging thing to do. I think I grew as a person. It was my director who pushed me and said you should look yourself beyond a performer and create the content. I’m grateful to him,” she gives credit to director Revanth Korukonda for Natyam which was released theatrically on 22 October 2021.
Sandhya feels proud of being on the list alongside National Award winners like Prabu Dheva, and Saroj Khan. “I’m very aware that this dance choreography award is one by such amazing dancers I look up to like Prabhu Dheva, Saroj Khan, Pandit Birju Maharaj there are such big names who have won this award and to have my name on the list with them it is amazing validation as a dancer.”
An accomplished Kuchipudi dancer, Sandhya Raju is taking a break as a producer. “I’m taking a break as a producer because we have a big producer on board who will be backing my next film. We are working on the script and the announcement will be out shortly,” she expresses her happiness on gearing up for her second film as an actor.
Also Read| Colour Photo: Sandeep Raj & Suhas get teary eye as they celebrate the big win of National Award for Best Film