Shonali Nagrani is mostly remembered for hosting four consecutive seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL), apart from cameos in films like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Dil Bole Hadippa!. She is now all set to return to acting with a digital debut with Amazon Prime’s much-hyped web series Tandav. In the show, she plays the first woman fighter jet pilot in the Indian Air Force, who leaves her career to join politics at the insistence of Samar Pratap Singh (played by Saif Ali Khan). Her character, Aditi Mishra, is touted to be one of the cabinet ministers in the political drama.
Set in Delhi, the fictional tale is expected to take the audience behind the closed corridors of power and politics. Revealing how different it is to work in a political drama like Tandav, Shonali says, “To play a politician is easy, to play a female politician is hard. In case of the latter, you have to deal with the men around you as well. So that’s the difference. Of course, women are silent warriors in the show and they are playing their game from behind the scenes. In contrast, men are noisy about their acts. My character is ambitious and vulnerable at the same time, hence, she needs Samar’s support.”
Apart from Saif, it has a stellar cast including Dimple Kapadia and Sunil Grover. Talking about how the three of them have distinct personalities, Shonali says, “Dimple (Kapadia) ma’am is a queen, she walks in and she owns it. She is very comfortable in her own skin. Saif loves to talk, and is very endearing to speak to. The moment you say cut, he becomes Saif and the moment you say action, he gets into his character very quickly. It is always fun with him. With Sunil Grover, we all know the moment he walks in, everyone starts laughing. He is also very appreciative of everyone, a total mood lifter. All three are tough and gentle at the same time.”
Not to miss, Tiger Zinda Hai director Ali Abbas Zafar is making his digital debut with the series. Speaking how he is a ‘dream director’ for her, Shonali mentions, “Ali (Abbas Zafar) is annoyingly organised and efficient, and is a very seasoned veteran when it comes to direction. The thing with this sort of a cast is that even the big stars were hanging out with the crew members and junior artistes, because at the top were Ali and Himanshu Kishan Mehra (producer), who believe in equality.”
The web space has become more interesting over time with great content leading the change. Ask her about the advent of OTT, Shonali quips, “Earlier with no web space, there was less demand and more supply. Now with digital platforms coming up, there is a lot of demand and enough supply. So the economics have changed. It means actors who are not typical Bollywood material but are great actors, are now getting lead roles on OTT shows. There is a huge shift in peoples’ need for entertainment.” She sings off by saying acting helps her “channel her repressed emotions and creatively satisfy herself.”
Tandav is slated to release on January 15. It also stars Dino Morea, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Kritika Kamra, Sarah Jane Dias, Sandhya Mridul, Annup Sonii and Hiten Tejwani.