Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Interview of Actress Melanie Kannokada

The lovely and talented actress, Melanie from D For Dopidi


Please tell us about yourself. What's your background like?

- I am born and brought up in Chicago but my family roots are in Kerala.  Growing up, I was a martial artist, a pianist, a dancer, and also very much into math and physics. I attended Stanford University and earned my degree in Mechanical Engineering, but eventually I decided to leave the engineering profession and to explore my childhood dream of becoming an actress. Acting is now my full time profession, but I also am involved in a lot of charity work.

How did you become a part D for Dopidi?

I was in Hyderabad for a screening of an independent film I acted in - Love Lies and Seeta. Afterwards I was approached by the filmmakers Raj and DK about their film D for Dopidi and the role of Shalini.

How was it doing a film in an industry that is far from what you are doing in LA?

- The whole experience was quite foreign to me and did take some adjusting. The language barrier was a challenge at first. Also there was the discomfort of not having any friends or family in Hyderabad.  However, the D for Dopidi team was amazing - they made me feel more than welcome and and took great care of me. And by the end of my time and I had a great appreciation for Hyderabad and the Tollywood industry. 

What do you think of the D For Dopidi Team?

- Everyone was a pleasure to work with! Raj and DK are visionaries and did a superb job pulling this all together. Siraj was such a friendly director and was extremely easy to work with. Sundeep, Varun, Naveen, Rakesh - all four guys were so fun and talented, it was a blast.

Did you prepare for your role? Especially since it's a Telugu film. How did you manage the Telugu dialogues?

- I actually only had a few days to prepare. I hadn't seen the final script or my dialogues until I landed in Hyderabad (from LA) just 2 days before my first scene. Luckily, I didn't need to do much work on my character of Shalini. But since I'm not fluent in Telugu, learning the dialogues was a challenge to do in such a short time. I worked with Siraj, the director, and other team members to get the language down as best I could. It was hard at first, but became easier as the days went on. 

What did you think of the film D For Dopidi, when you finally watched it on screen?

I was really impressed how everything came together - the comedy, the music, the cinematography, all top notch. I saw it at a screening in Chicago with my family and we all loved it. And I was proud that the Chicago audience was loving the movie too.

Will you be doing more films in India/Telugu?

- I've been approached on a few, but just waiting for the right one. It's challenging since I also have projects in the US. But I'm trying to find a balance between both industries.


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