Aaditi Pohankar has grabbed eyeballs for her act in Prakash Jha’s web series Aashram, which released on MX Player early this year. Starring Bobby Deol as a self-styled spiritual guru, the web show features Aaditi as a young, yet determined, wrestler Pammi (Parminder). But, not many know that Aaditi started off her career with theatre and was acquainted with renowned theatre director Satyadev Dubey, who told actor Makarand Deshpande to mentor her in acting.
Ask her about her association with the two of them, Aaditi tells, “I actually started very, very young. Although I didn’t know what to do, the stage was something that attracted me. It gives you freedom to express each and every emotion you have. I met Satyadev Dubey just before he passed away. I didn’t get to spend much time with him, but his influence will help me all my life. Like his idea of smiling through my eyes has changed my entire pattern of acting. With Makarand Deshpande, I still train with. He has been my life coach as well, not just an acting mentor. He has changed my perspective towards life. I think I have reached where I have only because of them.”
Aaditi then went on to work with director Nishikant Kamat in his Marathi directorial Lai Bhaari alongside Riteish Deshmukh. Ask her about that collaboration, she mentions, “Well, Nishi sir is my most favourite, because he gave me my first shot and for me, it was very close to my heart. He taught me everything with extreme patience, from continuity to camera angles. He literally held my finger and walked me through my first phases of career. “
Before Aashram, Aaditi rose to fame with Imtiaz Ali’s She (2019) on Netflix, where she played a sexually repressed police constable who undergoes a personal journey of awakening. Clearly, the OTT space has been a boon for actors like her. She asserts, “The web is becoming a space where actors like Saif Ali Khan became the big thing with Sacred Games. So there are serious, mainstream actors out there now and the web content is now a mix of good actors, great performances, and fabulous scripts. Everyone is now performance-oriented and content-driven. I feel there came a stagnant phase in Indian cinema, and the web gave a good break to it. There is so much to watch, and Aashram too is such a hit because of its storyline.”
Although she is riding high on the wave of compliments coming her way from her web shows, she is “certainly looking at doing films”. “I want to probably dabble in both OTT and films. I am an actor so what is most important is the script and the director. It didn’t matter if She was on Netflix or any other platform, for me Imtiaz Ali was important and the script. With Aashram too, I wanted to work with Prakash Jha and that’s how it is,” she signs off.