Actor, painter, costume designer, writer, coordinator – the pure Telangana young dynamic multi-facet girl ‘Maya Nelluri’ happens to be all of the above. This self-professed cinema addict and multi-talented Maya, who aces both in front of the camera and behind it, is all set for an upcoming art exhibition and release of her first feature film.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

An artist forever
My family tells me that I loved doodling since I was a toddler. I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember. So, it made sense that I focused on art in school. I also did courses to improve my painting skills alongside my college courses. To date, I’ve had two well-received exhibitions, painted for various companies, and a mobile application. I am proud to say that my last painting, which was auctioned at the Teach for Change event, sourced Rs 1.75 lakh for charity.

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Technology & art
There’s an app called Mytha which packages mythological stories into ten-slide stories for kids. It was designed to help aid their knowledge about heritage and religion; and it aligned very much with my interest in learning more about Hinduism. I worked on two stories for the app. I painted the required scenes on paper and they were later converted into digital slides.

Why ‘Lumarai’?
Lumarai, my latest series, includes acrylic paintings with a hint of mixed media. They bring forth my interpretation of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti seen through the cultural influences I’ve embodied whilst growing up in New Zealand and Australia. The unique feature which one can only uncover upon closer inspection is the mantras etched onto the canvas. The series also includes abstract pieces which all have distinctive meanings with their roots in the teachings of Hinduism.

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How did acting happen?
I love Telugu films. My family moved to New Zealand when I was a child but somehow my fascination for Telugu cinema stayed and grew with me. A couple of years ago, when I travelled to India for my cousin’s wedding, a friend introduced me to the editor at a South Indian film magazine. I ended up getting a job as a stylist and moved to Hyderabad on a whim; that’s how I broke into the industry. I ended up training and working in various areas like costume designing, writing and coordination. Acting was not really encouraged in my family; so, I hadn’t given it much thought. Last year, things changed when I trained in acting at the Sydney College because acting felt so natural to me and around the same time, new ideas and talent were being given a real chance.

Movies or series?
As long as the script is interesting and the team is professional, I’d like to work in any medium. Also, digital platforms have really changed the game. There are plenty of times when I just want to stay home and watch a series online and there are other times when I want to go to the theatre and really experience the film.
Typecasting? Don’t think so…

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I’ve done a couple of sketches for a digital platform with an out-and-out Telangana dialect. I loved it because that’s how my family speaks in real life. Also, Telangana Shakuntala is one of my favourite characters in Telugu cinema. I’m not worried about typecasting because in my first film I’m playing an Andhra village girl. The film is being directed by Sudheer Varma, starring Sharwanand. It’s a great first chance for me and I get to play a role which is entirely opposite to my regular self. #KhabarLive

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.