Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  “Wow, is she the new Sai Pallavi of Telugu cinema?” started buzzing in social  media as soon as the Satyadev-starrer Umamaheshwara Ugra Rupasya (UMUR) hit the OTT platforms. And it’s about Roopa Koduvayur, the girl who plays Jyothi in the movie and who stole our hearts with her ethnic looks and her chilipitanam.

As Express calls her up on a busy Monday morning, Roopa is giving media interviews and resharing stories about her performance on social media channels.

But it’s not just the release of her debut movie, but it also the fact that this young medico from Katuri Medical College and Hospital in Guntur is attending to essential COVID-19 services in a PPE suit as she is at the fag end of her house surgeonship. 

Roopa is a pleasure to talk to, as she is the quintessential gala gala maatladey Telugammayi. “You know, I am exactly like Jyothi in the movie. In my opening scene, I show photographer Uma Maheshwar a few photos of Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor and ask him to shoot me to look that way. I did the same thing with a local photographer in Vijayawada when I had to send my photos for the casting call of UMUR movie,” she shares. “Basically, I don’t want to lead an ordinary life. It has to be extra ordinary in every realm,” she says dreamily.

This 20-year-old, the only daughter of an Army personnel and a cancer survivor, says, “My mom has recovered from cancer and I know the trauma she suffered. Her hardships made me pursue MBBS and I want to become an oncologist (cancer specialist),” quickly adding, “kani cinemalu kooda chestanu”.

Just in case you thought she can’t be both an actor and a doctor, she wants to clarify that she has spent at least three hours everyday of the last 14 years learning and practicing Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. “Since UKG, I have always lived a hectic life. Dance classes, performances, practice, school, fests etc. I am used to this adrenaline rush,” she adds.

Roopa was primarily signed up for the role because director Venkatesh Maha said she wanted a girl exactly like her for the role. “I am proud to be a Telugu, a dusky girl and one who can be vocal. He loved these three qualities of mine during the audition and said that I should do the role with my natural looks. I couldn’t be happier,” says this girl who takes a hour-long commute everyday from her home in Vijayawada to her college in Guntur.

The only strict brief that director Maha gave her was to ‘tone down her hyperactiveness’, she says, with a wink. Obviously, the flash mob scene is her favourite as she says the free spirited dancer in her loved the energy in those mass hit Telugu songs. 

As she spent 50 days in Araku valley in Visakhapatnam, she lost over two months of her house surgeonship and she needs to finish that before she graduates as a doctor this year. She was super busy with the casting call photo shoots, look tests, workshop and auditions before the actual shooting.

“The entire movie making process is creative and energising. I definitely want to be here to do some strong roles,” she says. And how did she celebrate her first paycheck from Tollywood? “I took a dhamaka holiday to Dubai with my parents before the COVID-19 hit us,” she adds. 

Not many know that Roopa shot to fame three years ago when she released a Youtube video where she rendered a classical performance to the famous Baahubali song ‘Saahore Baahubali’ on the beach side. She has so far given about a 1,000 performances, but her favourite remains the one where she performed to a medly of K Vishwanath songs.

“I was always into classical dance, but when I heard Baahubali music, I was mesmerised and wanted to blend a cinema number with classical dance. So we shot for a few weeks on the beach side in Andhra Pradesh where I even sprained my knee. That video got a lot of appreciation and many said that I should ensure that Rajamouli garu gets to watch it. But today I got to act in a production house like Arka Media Works and I hope he notices my role in UMUR,” she remarks. An extraordinary life is what she seeks and she is prepared to slog. Roopa toh anta veezy kadu, she signs off with a fimli line. 

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