Debutant Shreya Chaudhry in an exclusive interview with Poorva Tamhane talks about modelling, working with Manisha Koirala and her debut movie ‘Dear Maya’
With the flood of models entering the film industry, model-turned-actor Shreya Singh Chaudhry jumps into the fray with her new film, Dear Maya starring Manisha Koirala. Directed by Sunaina Bhatnagar under Bake My Cake Production its towards the end, the film marks Manisha’s comeback.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to your debut in Dear Maya?
I’ve been born and brought up in Bombay. Ever since school and even college I always thought of acting but it was at the back of my head because I was busy with studies. After college I made the choice to get into modelling, that led me to also do 3 seasons of Lakme Fashion Week and I was in the top 10 for Grazia’s Cover Girl Hunt of 2016. Soon after I auditioned for the role in Dear Maya and I got the part.
What was it like working with such a senior actor like Manisha Koirala?
I was super excited! I met her on set itself! I was so nervous because she’s my favourite actresses and I’ve loved her movies, for me to just be sharing screen space with her was such a big deal! The best thing about Manisha ma’am was that she is extremely focused when it comes to work. On some days that there were a lot of people and a lot of chaos on set like the shoots on Mall Road and Shimla. There used to be a lot of people but she stayed calm and collected and extremely focused and I would just keep observing her as to how she’s managing this. Even when I had scenes with Manisha ma’am she made me feel so comfortable. The one thing I love about Manisha ma’am was her smile, even on bad days I’d see her smile and it would give me such a positive feeling.
What was it like working with Madiha Imam, your co-actor?
We had workshops prior to the film and we play two best friends in the film, Anna and Ira. We had to have that equation and because of that our director Sunaina made sure we met before and that there was time to have like a natural process of meeting and understanding each other, so that it didn’t feel forged. Our characters, Ana and Ira are two different people and yet two very close people. Especially, my character, Ira, she finds her family in Anna, she’s closer to Anna than she is to her own mother in the film.
What do youthink of the stereotype, ‘Models can’t act’?
I feel this stereotype is slowly changing and the biggest example of that is DeepikaPadukone because she was a top model and today she’s one of the biggest actresses. So, I think it’s just a stereotype and people don’t have that in their head anymore. In this regard, I’d like to add that I started off with acting and modelling was something I just chanced upon. Also, commercials to some extent is acting and I never thought I’d be doing editorials and fashion week, it just happened to me! I have always been passionate about acting and performing, even when I was a kid I was the happiest person when I was on stage or in front of the camera.
Any memorable moments or takeaways from your first movie?
A lot of things!! This is the first time that I was away from home for so long. We had a two months schedule, I had to be responsible and independent without my mother being around. I had to wake up on my own at 4am and that was difficult at first as my mother was always there for me, for these things. I was just fresh out of college, when I began shooting for this film! My first shot was very surreal for me, I remember feeling afterwards that I was meant to do this all along. I had shot earlier as well so it wasn’t entirely an alien experience for me but something inside me said that this was the right path. That’s how I felt after my first shot for Dear Maya.
One of the main locations we were shooting at, is actually a beautiful location but it says online that the place is haunted. So, nobody lives there as such and everybody kept telling me “Do you know the place is haunted?” and I’m afraid of the dark so it made me a bit anxious. When we went there everyone made sure I was comfortable and it so happened that I fell in love with the place. It was almost like my second home there. On the last day of shooting I got very emotional as we shot a lot on that location and I really didn’t want to leave the place!
The film produced by Shobna Yadav and Sandeep Lezyell.