Scroll interview

A heroine in a Mumbai movie at 72: GV Sharada has realised her dream with ‘Beyond the Clouds’

The Kannada cinema veteran indelibly plays an emotionally fragile grandmother in Majid Majidi’s first Indian production.

As a child, GV Sharada remembers praying to a mud shivalinga that some day, she would be a heroine in Bombay.

“That has come true – at the age of 72,” the veteran of Kannada cinema told at her Bengaluru residence. Sharada plays a grandmother in Iranian director Majid Majidi’s first Indian production Beyond The Clouds. Sharada’s character, Jhumpa, arrives in Mumbai along with her two grandchildren when she learns that her son Akshi (Goutam Ghose) has been hospitalised. There, she meets Amir (Ishaan Khatter), the brother of the woman whom Akshi tried to rape. Lost in a new city as they wait for answers, Jhumpa and her grandchildren have nowhere to live and nothing to eat, and despite himself, Amir ends up helping them.

Sharada’s role as as short as it is memorable, and her wonderfully expressive face conveys the turmoil in her heart.

Beyond the Clouds marks Sharada’s return to the screen after 15 years. Her credits include such films as Bala Nagamma (1965), Dudde Doddappa (1967), Upasane (1974) and Trimurti (1975). She has acted in over 50 Kannada films in a career spanning 40 years. “I was thrilled to be acting again,” said Sharada, who is the daughter-in-law of the legendary theatre icon Gubbi Veeranna. “I had missed all of it. Moreover, it had always been a dream to go to Bombay. This film fulfilled a childhood dream.”

Beyond The Clouds (2018).

Sharada made her screen debut at the age of 12 in GV Iyer’s acclaimed Post Master (1964). “I played the second heroine in the film, which was the role I was given in most films back then,” she said. “They’d also make me dance. There would always be a dance number for me in my films, be it Bala Nagamma or Upasane.” Work wasn’t frequent, but Sharada marked her presence in multi-starrers and commercial entertainers throughout the 1960s all the way up till the end of the ’90s.

An incident on the sets of her last film, Sadhu Kokila’s Raktakanneeru (2003), forced her to step away from the arc lights. “There’s a scene in the film where my character, a mother, tries to stop her son from going to a prostitute’s house a day after his wedding,” Sharada said. Upendra plays the son. “We discussed how the scene should play out. I felt it would be most effective and would bring out the son’s brutal nature if he were to kick his mother. Upendra ended up actually kicking me with force. I suffered a major injury in my ribs. Of course, it wasn’t done deliberately and we even took an X-ray immediately to rule out a fracture, but the impact of the fall was felt gradually.”

Her daughter, Panchami Gubbi, urged her to take a break. “Four of her ribs were severely injured,” said Panchami as Sharada slowly turned her frail body around to show the side that still hurt. “The thing is she gets too immersed in her role, a little too much.”

When Gubbi heard through casting director Honey Trehan that Majidi was looking for an elderly actor for Beyond the Clouds, she felt it was time for her mother to return to acting. “I knew she was yearning to get back,” Gubbi said. “We were in a village in Gangavati at that time and my mother had dyed her hair black. Since this was the role of an old woman, we quickly got some talcum powder, dabbed it on her head and clicked a photo. Trehan got back to us saying he wanted a better picture. We clicked another one, this time in a park in Hubli, which he liked. He called her for an audition.”

Beyond the Clouds. Image credit: Namah Pictures/Zee Studios.
Beyond the Clouds. Image credit: Namah Pictures/Zee Studios.

In her 50-year career, this was the first time that Sharada had given an audition. “It was the same hospital scene,” Sharada recalled. “The audition was inside an office. They told me that I was playing a character who is old and does not know Hindi. She is in a new city and is searching for her son. I didn’t have any inhibitions. I just did the scene based on what I understood of it.”

Majidi’s crew had reportedly auditioned several actors for the role, including, screen legends Leelavathi, Arundhati Nag and LV Sharada. “Apparently, they really liked my audition,” Sharada said. “Even Majidi sir felt that I fit the role perfectly.”

Having spent most of her life in Karnataka, Sharada is most comfortable in Kannada. In Beyond the Clouds, however, she plays a Tamilian. Majidi does not know either language or Hindi. Sharada’s Hindi is sketchy. How did they communicate on the sets?

“I had lived in Madras for about six or seven years when the film studios were there, so speaking in Tamil isn’t tough for me,” Sharada revealed. “I used to try to communicate with Majidi in broken Hindi. But what he understands best is the language of cinema, which transcends all language barriers.”

Sharada did not probe into why Jhumpa speaks Tamil. She quickly immersed herself in the role, took her cues from Majidi’s workshops with his actors and drew from her own experiences as a mother and a grandmother.

Meanwhile, Gubbi was curious about the character’s name. “Jhumpa isn’t a traditional Tamil name at all,” Gubbi pointed out. “When I asked, I was told that Majid likes the name a lot and hence the character was called that.”

Jhumpa was a tough role to play, Sharada said. She recalled a particular scene in which Jhumpa, after she learns the truth about her son, makes him own up to his crime. “Majidi sir said that Jhumpa is a strong woman and is not someone who will shy away from doing what is right,” Sharada said. “He also said that she does not shed tears in this scene. But I wasn’t convinced. I explained to him that no matter how strong she is, here’s a mother who is making her son admit to a crime as he is lying on his death bed. She forcibly takes his hand and gets the impression. Tears were inevitable.”

The scene worked out marvellously, Gubbi said. “My mother couldn’t stop crying even when she was convincing Majidi about Jhumpa’s tears.”

Bala Nagamma (1965).

Sharada spent her formative years on tour with the Gubbi Shree Channa Basaveshwara Nataka Company, where her mother, Venkateshamma, worked as a theatre actor. As a child, she could often be found waiting in the wings or sitting among the audience, observing the actors. “I had the best mentors in the theatre company – Narasimharaju, Balakrishna, GV Iyer, BV Karanth and Rajkumar,” Sharada said. “I didn’t find it difficult to transition from the stage to the screen – both demanded a natural style. I used to love putting on make-up and wearing costumes. Cinema was all I ever thought about. I liken the efforts I put into my craft to a tapas. Unfortunately, I never got any recognition for my work and that hurts me immensely even today.”

Her favourite character (apart from Jhumpa) is from SKA Chari’s 1965 film Maavana Magalu. “There was dance, acting and glamour in that role,” she recalled with tears in her eyes. “Then, there was Dudde Doddappa in which I was the heroine. I have adapted myself as an actor from the days of black-and-white to colour and now to the latest technologies. But what did it all amount to? No one is there to appreciate moonlight in a forest.”

Maavana Magalu (1965).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The qualities of a high-performance luxury sedan

A lesson in harnessing tremendous power to deliver high performance.

Gone are the days when the rich and successful would network during a round of golf, at least in the Silicon Valley. As reported by New York Times, ‘auto-racing has become a favourite hobby for the tech elites’. However, getting together on a race track would require a machine that provides control while testing extreme limits. Enter the Mercedes-AMG range of cars.

Mercedes-AMG’s rise from a racing outfit to a manufacturer of peak performance cars is dotted with innovations that have pushed the boundaries of engineering. While the AMG series promises a smooth driving experience, its core is made up of a passion for motorsports and a spirit that can be summarized in two words – power and performance. These integral traits draw like-minded people who share and express Mercedes-AMG’s style of performance.

The cars we drive say a lot about us, it’s been said. There are several qualities of an AMG performance luxury sedan that overlap with the qualities of its distinguished owner. For instance, creating an impression comes naturally to both, so does the ambition to always deliver an exceptional performance. However, the strongest feature is that both the owner and the AMG marque continually challenge themselves in pursuit of new goals, stretching the limits of performance.

This winning quality comes alive, especially, in the latest Mercedes-AMG marque – the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+. With the most powerful engine to have ever been installed in an E-class, this undisputed performance sedan promises immense power at the driver’s command. With 612 HP under its hood, the car achieves 0-100 km/h in just a few seconds - 3.4 to be precise. Moreover, the car comes with the latest driver-assistance technology that promises intelligent control and provides an agile and responsive ride.

But, the new AMG is not just about work (or traction in car lingo). One of its core features is to provide its owners a challenge on the race track. Its drift mode, which converts the vehicle into a pure rear-wheel drive, offers pure exhilaration and adds a work-play dynamic to the car. In that sense, the new AMG is a collaborator of sorts - one that partners with its owner to create an impression through performance. And on the weekends, the car pushes him/her to express absolute power using its race mode with a thunderous roar of the engine - the pure sound of adrenalin. This balance between work and play has been achieved using cutting-edge features in the car that together create an almost intuitive driver-machine relationship.

If you’re looking for a car that shares your enthusiasm for driving, you’ll find a partner in the new AMG. However, buying an AMG is not just about owning a powerhouse on wheels, it’s also about adopting a driving philosophy in which power is just the starting point - the main skill lies in how you manoeuvre that power on the road. A performance sedan in its sportiest form, Mercedes-AMG’s latest model takes vehicle performance to an unmatched level. A decade ago, this amount of speed and power in a luxury 4-door model would be un-thinkable.


The new Mercedes-AMG comes with a host of individualisation options through designo, the artistic side of Mercedes’s innovation, so the car becomes an extension of the owner’s distinctive personality. An expressive design with a new radiator grille and a muscular front apron showcase its athleticism. A new-age driver environment, widescreen cockpit, the AMG performance steering wheel and sports seat delivers an intensive driving experience. With the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+, AMG has created an undisputed performance sedan that can rip the race track as well as provide reliable luxury sedan-duty. To know more about the most powerful E-class of all time, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes-Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.