Girija Lokesh gives us a peek into her past

The veteran actor looks back at her life and career, ahead of her 70th birthday on January 10

Once she was known as the wife of the late Kannada veteran Lokesh. Today, she is known as the mother of popular actor and television presenter, Srujan Lokesh. But Girija Lokesh has always held her own, despite the spotlight shining brightly on her family. She has no complaints whatsoever: “It’s a sheer joy that my children are also doing so well,” she says, over phone from Bengaluru.

The actor, who has acted in films such as Kakana Kote, Halli Meshtru and Bhoteyyana Mommaga Ayyu, has bowled over fans and critics with her acting prowess, over the years. She is also the recipient of the Rajyotsava Award in 2013 for her contribution to Kannada cinema. The soon-to-be septuagenarian looks back at her career. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about your foray into theatre…

That happened when my father incurred a terrible loss in his business. Like every other child, I too had learnt music and dance. Those learnings paved the way for my life. I would earn ₹7 or ₹15 for every dance class. We were five children and we could survive an entire month with that amount.

I was 15 when I stepped into the world of performing arts and never dreamt that I would make a livelihood from acting, as I had no background in theatre or films.

When you ventured into cinema, did you have to change your style of acting?

No, never. In fact, I was not even scared when I faced the camera for the first time. But what scared me was the strange sound that the camera would make every time it was on. And since there were film reels then, I would also freak out every time I made a mistake or forgot my lines. Because, the reels would go waste and that would lead to a loss.

Tell us about working with your husband Lokesh..

It was such a life changing experience. I was always thrilled to work with him; he was such a great actor. And every opportunity that I got to work with him, I saw him in a different light. He had the ability to surrender himself to the character, which still sends chills down my spine.

And there was a lot of playfulness too. When people praised me for my acting, which was a rarity, I would bully him and walk around with a halo (laughs).

Why aren’t old Kannada films available on OTT platforms?

That needs to be done. It can’t be done by one person. This has to be done so that the works of greats like Puttanna Kanagal will reach the masses. The directors, stars, and the industry should work towards preserving classics.

When you look back at your career, is there anything you would change?

No. I have had a good journey. I live each moment in the present.

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