Soundarya Sharma opens up about objectification of women on screen, OTT boom, and working amidst the pandemic

'Shooting in the pandemic has been challenging,' the actress says

Lipika VarmaUpdated: Tuesday, June 01, 2021, 05:29 PM IST
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Soundarya Sharma's Bollywood debut, Ranchi Diaries, produced by Anupam Kher impressed everybody especially the way she portrayed her character. After that, she acted in Raktanchal and will soon be seen in season 2 of it. Soundarya, who hails from Delhi and has a bachelor’s degree in dental studies, came to Mumbai with big dreams and is currently on the path to fulfil them. In an interview with the Cinema Journal, Soundarya talks about her journey and more. Excerpts:

What motivated you to be an actor?

I always wanted to be an actress. I was born and raised in a strict Brahmin family where more importance given to studies — and I was good at it. I ended up finishing my bachelor's in dental surgery but since singing and dancing has been an integral part of all of us, there was this endeavour of doing it on screen. I always loved Hollywood films and it attracted me to be an actor. I feel certain things have come to me from my last life in a strange way. As a child, I would dance when my mother played some songs and I was like, 'I want to be an actor.' That’s my earliest impressions of wanting to become an actor.

Your debut film was Ranchi diaries. How was your experience of working with Anupam Kher?

I am so blessed to work with him. I came to Mumbai for an audition, but I ended up being finalised for Ranchi Diaries. Working with Anupam sir has been really amazing because he is one of the best actors in the country. He has mentored us during the shoot. Being launched by his production house itself reassured me of my dreams and talent, and that I am doing something right. You learn a lot from Anupam sir's presence. He is an ocean of knowledge. People go to different regions and do different films and then debut in Bollywood, but I got to do it differently.

Tell us about your role in Raktanchal?

Raktanchal season one was just my introduction. I play Roli. Nobody has ever seen me in this de-glam avatar. From a very simple girl who does things for the family, the story veers on how she enters the political sphere. The way she becomes a part of this murky gangster and political saga and how she protects her family. It's based on true events so we can't play with the facts. In season two, I take the lead and take things forward—same goes for season 3. The series has a lot talented actors like Ashish Vidyarthi ji, Mahie Gill, Karan Patel, Nikitin Dheer, and many more.

What was it like shooting during the pandemic?

Shooting in the pandemic has been challenging. We never imagined that we would be stuck in this situation. I feel blessed that I am working. It's been tough though. I miss my home. It's taken a toll on me. For the entire year, I was in Los Angeles. I had gone to Lee Strasberg and New York Film Academy for my acting studies and then I was stuck there for the longest time. I ended up living in the States for a year and got to meet my family this new year. I missed my family and friends. On the set we are taking all safety precautions. My spot boy has been taking care of me like a brother.

What challenges did you face as an outsider?

I had no knowledge of the industry. I had no godfather. I only had my family, who was against it. I had to convince them since there is so much said about the industry. The challenge here is to get a platform. Unless you have that you can't show your talent. But I am thankful to the OTT space and the makers who are coming forward and giving chances to newcomers. I was constantly told that you are not dating an actor, producer, or a star kid, then what makes you think that you being pretty and talented will make you a star? But I believe one doesn't become a star overnight. I have nothing against star kids, but a fair chance should be given to all. If you are really passionate and strong-headed, you can make your way.

Has Bollywood been able to look at women beyond their looks?

The times are changing now but earlier, no. It's a bitter pill but that's the truth. Women were objectified immensely, especially before OTT came in the picture. But, times are changing. Actors are taking a stand. Kangana Ranaut and Deepika Padukone do that beautifully. We women can do it together. We can collectively mould and change perceptions.

Any projects you are currently working on?

I am working on four other projects: Three on the OTT and one movie. It depends on the pandemic how they shape up. It's been tough. I pray for everyone's safety first. It's a bad time for all of us. Once everything settles, we can definitely speak about other things. Nothing is above our well-being. Shooting should resume once everything is fine.

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