Shriya Saran (born 11 September 1982 in the Dehradun region of Uttarakhand in Northern India), also known by the mononym Shriya, is an Indian film actress and model. She has acted in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi language films, as well as a few films in English and Kannada. Saran spent most of her childhood in Haridwar.
In 2001, her dance master gave her the opportunity to appear in Renoo Nathan's debut music video "Thirakti Kyun Hawa", which brought Saran to become known by many Indian filmmakers. Although Saran aspired to become a well-known dancer and believed she could enter the field of cinema as such, she was rather offered a leading role. Thus, Saran made her film debut in 2001 with the Telugu film Ishtam, and had her first commercial success with Santhosham (2002).
She subsequently appeared in several more Telugu films, while making in-roads in the Hindi and Tamil film industries. In 2007, Saran starred in Sivaji, the highest-grossing Tamil film at that time. She also gained critical acclaim for her role in the 2007 Bollywood film Awarapan. In 2008, Saran played the lead role in her first English film, the American-Indian co-production The Other End of the Line. Her following projects included popular films such as Kanthaswamy (2009) in Tamil, and Pokkiri Raja (2010) in Malayalam, her roles in which have established her as one of the leading actresses in the South Indian film industries.
In 2012, she was cast in the British-Canadian film Midnight's Children under the direction of Deepa Mehta, based on Salman Rushdie's Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name, for which she got international critical acclaim. She achieved further commercial success by starring in films such as Pavitra (2013) and Chandra (2013). In 2014, Shriya Saran starred in the critically acclaimed Telugu film Manam, which she received accolades for her performance.
In addition to her work in films, Saran has been the brand ambassador for several brands across India, endorsing beauty and health products. Among other philanthropic activities, she has volunteered for a number of charity organizations, and in 2011 she opened a spa employing exclusively visually challenged people. She also was the brand ambassador Celebrity Cricket League for its two first seasons. Saran is very reluctant to talk about her private life, and usually denies that reported linkups are romantic in nature. She is Hindu.
Saran is well known for her charity work. She describes herself as someone used to "sharing time and resources with the underprivileged since childhood." She says that "celebrities can show the way by sensitising people to social issues, campaigning for causes or being part of fund-raisers." Her family has always encouraged her to think of the needy. Saran is a brand ambassador for the Naandi Foundation, and for the Save A Child's Heart Foundation (SACH), which works for the benefit of poor children and people affected by natural calamities.
She helps finance a Prevention of Aids foundation. In 2009, Saran joined with other eminent personalities to promote 'The Joy of Giving Week', to encourage people from all walks of life to engage in acts of giving. She regularly participates in carnivals and campaigns that associate with children benefits. She is associated with animal welfare and the Blue Cross of India. She is also associated with an NGO called World Vision that finds parents for deprived kids, and works for Apollo’s RDF to raise funds for underprivileged children.
Saran is a long time patron for the blind. In 2011, she opened a spa which exclusively employs the visually challenged. It is called Shree Spa, and is located in Mumbai. Saran has said "When I studied in DPS Mathura Road in Delhi, there was a school for blind exactly opposite to our school. I used to go there every week and spend time seeing how these students played cricket and did other things normally. That is what inspired me to do something for these people".
In January 2008, Saran was the subject of a controversy, when a Hindu organisation in Chennai lodged a police complaint against Saran, objecting to the outfit worn by her during the 175th day celebration of her film, Sivaji: The Boss. In a complaint, the Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) alleged that Shriya's outfit had "offended Hindu culture". Shriya publicly apologised to Tamilians and Hindus, saying it was a mistake, and that she had "great respect for the tradition and culture of Tamil Nadu... I was shooting for a Hindi film in Thanjavur. I came to the function directly from the shooting, I was unaware of the repercussions because of the attire I wore during the function."
On working in different regional film industries in India she has stated, "I don’t consider Kollywood or Bollywood as separate entities. For me, there’s only a single category, the Indian film industry, which is extremely rich owing to its diverse genres and languages." She is fluent in Hindi, English, and can understand Tamil and Telugu well. On 19 January 2013, she quit Twitter due to derogatory comments from her followers.
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