Debutante Shaylee Krishen is currently getting praises for her web series, The Last Hour. The web series, which is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, also stars Sanjay Kapoor, Shahana Goswami and Raima Sen in pivotal roles. Shaylee is one of the few actresses from Kashmir. She was spotted by ace cinematographer Ravi Varman, who clicked her photos and sent it across for casting. She is also set to star in one of the most ambitious projects of Santosh Sivan. In an interaction with the Cinema Journal, she talks about the web series, her life in Kashmir, and more. Excerpts:
Tell us about your role in The Last Hour.
I play the role of a teenage girl named Pari, she is mentally disturbed because of the sudden death of her mother. She is in search of answers and her state is such that she is standing in the middle of the darkness thinking, wondering, doubting, fearing the worst. She is not a regular girl.
Tell us about your life in Kashmir.
In 1980, my family had to flee from their hometown, Anantnag, along with thousands of Kashmiri Pandits to a refugee camp put up by the then government. I was born in a refugee camp and I kept moving wherever the government placed us, which was mostly in and around Jammu and Kashmir. It was not easy, as we did not have a permanent home. We lived in a place for a short time and a few weeks later moved to another shelter. There was no place I could call a home during my childhood. I lead the life of a nomad. Apart from the refugee situation, which is a grim reality, life otherwise in Kashmir is beautiful. However, at times this beauty can also be a curse.
As someone who had to flee her home, do you feel any sense of displacement?
I don’t feel any sense of displacement because I was born into these circumstances. This was my life right from day one. My parents actually faced this displacement more than me. They had to flee from Kashmir and had to face a lot of problems. It was difficult for them because they had to leave their homes, they had known a different life till then! For me the camp itself was the first place I saw when I learnt to walk. I had never known the life my parents had left behind, so I didn’t miss anything. But I have lived the painful experience through the eyes of my parents and suffered their pain!
Have you faced any discrimination because you are from Kashmir?
No, people around look at us with a lot of love. But people often ask me whether I am a Hindu or a Muslim? But that happens to people all over the country. Religion has always been a big issue in our country! But as a Kashmiri I have always got a lot of love, mostly because I think we Kashmiris have nice and warm vibes.
How did you find your way into showbiz?
I was always fascinated with cinema. The world of films has always excited me and created a deep sense of curiosity. But I had never planned on becoming an actor, it was an impossible dream for someone like me. However, destiny has queer ways of making things happen and the entire universe seems to have contrived to make this happen to me. I am very grateful for every opportunity destiny has brought me!
You have worked in Malayalam films. How different is it from the Hindi film industry?
I think the business of filmmaking is the same everywhere. I have worked with three National Award-winning directors till now. All of them have taken me under their wings and been very kind. They have trained me as a newcomer with no background in films, topped with zero experience in acting! I was totally raw and they groomed me hard. I think they were more confident about their own craft than mine! The only difference was the food on the sets. That could be a small issue for many. But for a foodie like me, it was big. I even started carrying my own induction cooker to the sets and cooked my own meals!