With the shift to the digital era, Indian filmmakers have been offering robust, innovative content and introducing an array of fresh talent. The newest star in the firmament is Shreya Chaudhry. She has wowed the audience since her outstanding performance in Bandish Bandits. With more opportunities coming her way, the actress talks about her first wide project, future plans and her key to survival in the competitive industry
Excerpts from the interview :
Your first show as a protagonist, Bandish Bandit, has done well and your performance has been widely appreciated. How has life changed after the show?
I think my life is pretty much the same. It was a blessing in disguise that the show came out in the middle of the lockdown - we couldn’t go out and meet people; but the audience liked the show. This is the first time I had an audience not just in India but all over the world. People are reaching out to me from different countries and that’s a huge change because it hasn’t happened to me before. The response to my work and the amount of work I am doing are a lot more. But my family has kept me very grounded.
Do you feel that at times actors shy away from taking roles which are very traditional, especially in light of OTT content where violence and nudity rule? Were you apprehensive about this role?
Actually not. When I read the script, I found the character very relatable. Although I am not like the character (Tamanna), it looked very real to me. As an actor I was excited because I never had an association with music, but I had to play a pop singer and composer. I feel blessed to work in a show that presents culture and tradition in a way that people find cool.
What process did you use to get into the character?
I am happy that I collaborated with Anand (Tiwari) and Amrit (Singh Bindra). They believe in doing workshops and we had workshops for over one month before we started the shoot. I went through bike riding classes, guitar classes, and that helped me be close to the character and understand the work of musicians. There were many musical terms that I learnt. The workshops really helped.
How was it to work with Naseeruddin Shah in the show?
He is a legend, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to watch him create his magic. It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. While we were shooting, I got a chance to observe and hopefully learn a thing or two. I feel very lucky that I got to interact with him, discuss movies and acting. and had the opportunity to do a workshop with him. I hope I get more opportunities to work with him again
The industry is notorious for typecasting actors. How will you select your future projects?
In the audiences' mind I may be Tamanna, as many people now call me by that name. I have to work to ensure that they see me as Shreya and in different characters. But luckily, casting directors don’t have a fixed image of me so far, and neither do producers. Whenever I am at an audition it’s always about variety. But a lot of offers that I got were related to my last character. I did think about it and realized I have to figure out what kinds of characters attract me the most. I am a person who hides behind the character and variations that I bring out excite me a lot. I hope I get to play different characters. And I hope I don’t select the project on how a certain character is, but based on the content and script. The script will be the most important thing and then the character.
The industry is very competitive and talented actors are pouring in. Do you feel insecure? What are your plans to survive in the industry?
As actors, we always look at what we’re up against, and compare. But I always remember something that my mother told me - that you should only compete with yourself. I was asked if I was scared of working with such big actors, but I was never scared. I only saw it as an opportunity to be in the same frame with them. I don’t feel threatened. I just hope I get good quality work. Fear and insecurities will remain because it’s the nature of the job. But I take it positively. There are days when I feel upset, especially when I don’t get some role, and I ask myself if I should continue or not. But then I tell myself that not continuing to pursue my dream is not the solution, and that helps me continue.
There was a time when actresses debuted with stars and that made them big in the industry. But that’s not true anymore. What caused the change?
More than as an actor, I would like to answer this as a member of the audience. I think we are growing towards accepting diverse content, irrespective of whether there is a big or a small star in it. If something is good and we enjoy it, then it’s accepted and if we don’t enjoy it, we dismiss it. I feel the competition has become so stiff that only people who are very good and content which is very good does well. There is no space for mediocre work. Unless you give high quality content and work, it won’t work!