Shriya Saran (born as Shriya Saran Bhatnagar on 11 September 1982), also known as Shriya, is an Indian actress and model known for her work in South Indian cinema, Bollywood and American cinema. Saran was born in Dehradun and 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 the attention of many Indian filmmakers. Although Saran aspired to become a well-known dancer, she was 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 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 — roles that 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 received international critical acclaim. She achieved further commercial success by starring in films such as Pavitra (2013) and Chandra (2013). In 2014, Saran starred in the critically acclaimed Telugu film Manam, which brought her accolades for her performance.
In addition to her work in films, Saran has been the brand ambassador for brands across India, endorsing beauty and health products. Among other philanthropic activities, she has volunteered for charity organizations. In 2011 she opened a spa employing exclusively visually challenged people. She was also the brand ambassador for Celebrity Cricket League for its two first seasons.
Shriya Saran Bhatnagar was born on 11 September 1982 in Haridwar in Northern India, to Pushpendra Saran Bhatnagar and Neeraja Saran Bhatnagar. Her father worked for Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited and her mother was a chemistry teacher in Delhi Public School, Ranipur in Haridwar and Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, New Delhi. Saran completed her schooling from both schools where her mother had taught. She has an elder brother named Abhiroop who lives in Mumbai.
Her family lived in the small town of BHEL colony in Haridwar when she was growing up. She later studied at Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature.
Saran is an accomplished dancer. She was first trained as a child by her mother in Kathak and Rajasthani folk dance, and later trained in the Kathak style by Shovana Narayan. She was involved with many dance teams in college and with her teacher. They would incorporate social issues into their dance routines.