Harshika - Making the Right Moves!
The Kannada film fraternity fondly calls her 'Princess'. For, she debuted while she was still studying her PU (11th). She has hardly crossed 20, but has already completed more than a dozen films with top actors. Though she acted as the female lead in several films, it was her important character role in Puneet Rajkumar's blockbuster Jackie that shot Harshika Poonacha into the limelight. She has also acted in a trilingual film. Virtually a stranger to the film industry, Harshika happens to be the fourth Coorgi to make a splash in the Kannada film industry after Prema, Daisy Bopanna, and Nidhi Subbaiah without any godfather. Harshika has two big releases lined up, but right now she is focusing on earning her engineering degree in Electricals & Electronics. Southscope gets you more in an exclusive interview…
You are an engineering student; what brought you to films?
After I completed my 10th, unlike other kids, I was not keen on spending a long holiday. I wanted to do something different. The thought that I was a 'grown-up' had already crept into my mind. I approached one of my close relatives working in a Kannada TV channel for a summer job. He had a surprise in store for me and offered me the role of an anchor for which I passed the screen test easily. The next thing I remember was facing the camera for a show titled Nimminda Nimagaagi, which became extremely popular. Once the series was complete, I packed my bags and was back in college. One day, the same relative called me to the studio where another surprise was in store. I happened to meet a director, and before I could think what was transpiring, he declared that I would be the female lead of a film titled PUC. Incidentally, I was studying in PUC then. What a strange coincidence.
PUC brought you name and fame. The recognition was instant.
True, I never knew that someday I would become a heroine. PUC was a moderate success. I was flooded with offers but I was keen on completing PU to pursue professional education. Therefore, I stayed away from the film industry for a while. I could not resist when Aravind SD offered me the female lead in Jugaari opposite Avinash Diwakar. The film should have been a big hit although it did receive critical acclaim. The floodgates opened for a second time. Again, I was in a quandary, as I wanted to earn my engineering degree without any hurdles. But I accepted roles that complemented my career growth.
In a short span of time, you have acted with top actors of Sandalwood.
Yes, it is a dream come true. After Jugaari, I worked with Shivarajkumar in Sugreeva (shot under 18 hours), then in the critically acclaimed Tamassu directed by Agni Sridhar, Ravichandran's Naariya Seere Kadda, Prajwal Devaraj's Murali Meets Meera, the comedy film 5 Idiots and Jackie. At present, I am working on two projects – Advaitha with Ajay Rao and Paree with Rakesh. I am also playing the female lead in a Kannada-Telugu-Tamil trilingual film. I am very happy with my progress so far. I never insist for a lead actor role. I believe the performance matters more.
You surprised everyone with a crucial role in Jackie. How did it happen?
Jackie brought me a lot of recognition. People mob me wherever I go after Jackie became a super hit. I owe it all to Shivarajkumar. I had worked with him in two films and he introduced me to Duniya Soori (director of Jackie), who was looking for an innocent face. I worked very hard in the film and the character is central to the movie's theme. It was a fantastic experience working for Jackie. My friends and relatives were surprised when they saw me in the movie. I knew that this film would provide me a major break. Whenever I am at a location for a shoot these days, local people identify me as the girl from Jackie. It is very satisfying!
You are the fourth Coorgi to enter the industry.
Prema showed that Coorgis could make it big in the entertainment industry with the right talent even without a godfather! Coorgi girls are a class apart, and everyone knows it. They are pretty, and extremely talented. I am sure more Coorgi girls will find success in the entertainment industry. My friends and relatives back home in Coorg admire our success. It really makes me feel happy and proud whenever they identify me off screen.
What do you think are your strongest points?
I can speak all South Indian languages. I think that is my USP. Consequently, it has become easy for me to market myself. I am confident enough to state that I am extremely talented for any on-screen role. People have watched me perform in several films. Besides, I am good looking, and cut out for specific cute-girl roles. Besides, I am being flooded with offers, which means I am definitely doing the right things!
There is a perception that local female actors hesitate to expose.
For me, exposing does not necessarily mean appearing glamorous and sexy on screen. Sometimes, the costumes transform a female lead into an item dancer. That should not be the approach. The revealing should be to such an extent that it should enhance the beauty and the screen presence of the actress. Also, there is a tendency to attract the audience by making the actresses expose unnecessarily. That is wrong!
Your idea of a first date
A candlelight dinner on the beach with no one else around
Who was your first crush? Did you confide in him?