Shriya Pilgaonkar: Bollywood is about luck and opportunity

Says Shriya Pilgaonkar as she speaks to NIKITA WADHAWAN about missing in action from Bollywood, her upcoming web series and starring opposite Jean Dujardin.

One would think that being an actor comes naturally to actress Shriya Pilgaonkar, being the daughter of talented actors– Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar. But she quickly banishes the notion. She hates anything predictable and never consciously planned on being an actor. After featuring opposite Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Fan’, Shirya seemed to be lost from Bollywood. Though now the ‘Fan’ girl is gearing up for her upcoming web series with opposite Ali Fazal along with Shweta Tripathi. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell me about your character in your upcoming web series ‘Mirzapur’…

I am opposite Ali Fazal, Shweta and I are sisters. My characters Sweety is a very confident, strong headed fiery girl. As we get closer to release I will let you in about her equation with everyone in the series.

How was it working with Ali?

We both know each other since college, I have always wanted to work with him. Ali has been juggling a lot and he has managed to prioritise them well. The entire cast get along so there is a lot of positivity on the sets, we had wonderful timing shooting together.

Were you a bit insecure sharing screen space with Shweta Tripathi?

I have never been insecure of anything or anyone, people are insecure only when they doubt their own talent. Moreover, Shweta and I have been part of the same theatre group, she plays my younger sister in the series. Our chemistry as sisters is going to be very interesting for the viewers. We have tried to put our own unique spin on it.

The plot of the series seems very similar to ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, are you worried about comparisons?

Every place in India has a different vibe and stories. While the essence may seem common they way they are told is very different. This web series is about Mirzapur and the people who live there. There is no need to compare it to any other gangster film.

Does having talented actors as parents, give you an edge over others in this industry?

Acting was not something that I took for granted, I started acting only after I knew I was passionate about this craft. Yes, it helps that they are from this field as they understand where I am coming from but my journey and struggle is going to be very unique the ways everyone else’s is.

Do you feel your background as an athlete helps keep your balance in this competitive industry?  

More than competitiveness, it is the discipline that has stayed with me. For example waking up early for a shoot or when you set your mind to something you have to give your 200 pc. These are somethings that I have imbibed from my sports days and I hope I have retained some of them. And it is great to learn a sport as it teaches you how to keep challenging yourself and pushing the boundaries.

After ‘Fan’ opposite Shah Rukh Khan, we haven’t seen you in many Bollywood movies. What happened?

I don’t really plan things as I feel I am not a very strategic person. Also, certain projects didn’t work out and so I focused on theatre, commercials and short films. I don’t want to rush anything, I want to be part of projects I believe in and am passionate about.  

Were you disappointed with the offers you got in Bollywood after ‘Fan’?

Bollywood is not just about talent, it is about luck and opportunities coming together. So which is why even when I got a film it has not taken off, but one can’t be disappointed that sometimes thing work out and sometimes they don’t. Sab ka waqt aata hai and every project has its own destiny, for now I want to do work that gives me fulfilment and create an impact.

You also worked with your mom in a short film ‘Jai Mata Di’, how was the experience?

It was so much fun working with her. As mother-daughter we have our own equation when we are at home, but it was very different when we were working together. I love her a lot but as an actor she is par excellence and I admire her a lot. It was really a privilege to share screen space with her even for a little while.

You also did a short film about depression and later came out and spoke about your journey through it…

Actually, I haven’t gone through depression. But doing this short film was a very important experience as my director Shraddha Singhvi went through it and it was important for me to portray that in a very authentic manner. Throughout short film we wanted to break the myth that rich or poor, there can be something that can trigger this. So it was important for us to create awareness and help them. Even today I get mails about this film has helped them deal with depression and as an actor that is very heart warming.

You also did a French film ‘Un plus une’ with Jean Dujardin (The Artist), how was experience? Was it easier for you since you knew the basics of the language?

I was not speaking French in the film and it was shot in India, but I was very excited Claude Lelouch was directing and Jean was also a part of the film. For me it was dream come true just like it was working with Shah Rukh in ‘Fan’.

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