PRIYANKA SHARMA tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that we need to understand that in cinema there is much more than what meets the eye, as there are so many layers.
Tell me about your acting background please!
I have been in this field since my college days, since 12 years, to be precise .I predominantly have an extensive theatre background, I had done a TV commercial but it got shelved. I worked with New Delhi Performers for my plays in Hindi while Yatrik is where I explored my love for English theatre. Some of my theatre projects include Doll’s House and Noor Jahan. I’ve even worked on a social play based on Child protection and rights for Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. So, it’s been a fulfilling journey as far as my love for the stage is concerned, but yes, this is my debut role on celluloid.
Where was 376 D shot?
The film was predominantly shot in Ahmedabad, a city I share a special connection with since it’s where my alma mater is. Hence, I was very gung ho when I came to know 376D will take me back there.
Your performance is very restrained and smooth. Comment.
Directors Gunveen, Robin and I really worked hard in crafting my character, to make this a very controlled performance. I am all shades negative in this film but in the end I play a true professional who is just doing her job exceptionally well. At the end of the day, judiciary and law rests on evidence, and that is something my character is well aware about.
The unique dialogues too, were a breath of fresh air!
I am glad that has been noticed. This is one of the reasons this film fascinated me. Marketing and communications is my primary profession but acting is my passion, so while this field isn’t my bread and butter, it is one that I cherish and when this script came to me, I truly knew it is different. The writing was bereft of the quintessential heavy dialogues and over the top punch lines that Hindi cinema is known for.
How did the makers zero in on you?
That’s a long but interesting story. A friend of mine casually told me about this audition being taken by a team coming in from Ahmedabad and Mumbai. I went for the same and next thing I know was that in just one trial, I was given the green signal and was doing the film. This “one take” tradition followed me during shoot too, as my very first take in front of the camera was okayed, something that reaffirmed the team’s faith in me.
Are you also looking at playing the main lead in the future or are character roles more of your forte?
As an artist, especially one from stage, I come through a very different school of thought. For me, storytelling is a beautiful catharsis where I get to live someone else’s life, which I certainly can’t do in real life. I also have never been too star struck to chase this lead role angle. Theatre for me is the chance to be someone else and I follow the same principle in films, no matter what the length of a role, if it’s a unique character I am all in for it.
Did your personal life ever cause a hurdle in your passion to explore acting as a career?
Not at all. As I mentioned earlier, since I was employed in the marketing and communications industry, and that too with Times of India, I barely had the time to seriously ponder over acting. In fact when I auditioned for this role, I had taken my fiancée along and was dubbing for this film literally four days before my wedding, so life came full circle, so to speak. All the people in my life have been very supportive about my decisions, touchwood.
Do you take the same approach for theatre and films?
I’m not a trained actor, so I don’t have a rule book to follow as gospel. I just try to internalise my characters, and be that person at times when I am alone, and the dialogues always complement the final mould.
Sumit Singh Sikarwar who plays public prosecutor Keshav Anand in the film is a real life lawyer. Did that help you to understand this profession?
Absolutely! Sumit is a very collaborative actor and helped me a lot in the nitty-gritties and research about the legal aspects in the film. He is also a lovely human being!
Any other films lined up?
Right now, I am not taking up offers, since motherhood has taken up quite a bit of my time; my child just completed his first birthday. So now I’m playing a mom off screen.
Will motherhood restrict the kind of roles you accept, less of glamour, more of substance?
I honestly don’t think I will fit into ultra glamorous roles, meaty parts and substance based characters are right up my alley, but I am open to anything that excites the inner artist in me.
Are you also open to working on OTT platforms?
Very much so! My debut film is releasing on ShemarooMe Box Office, the undisputed king of the OTT space, so I hope this is just the beginning of a flourishing career. I had been out of action lately, but plan to get back into the game soon once the pandemic subsides. In the end, I do believe OTT is a big part of the future.
What do you think of ShemarooMe Box Office?
It is a fabulous platform. Shemaroo Entertainment has been a market leader globally and ShemarooMe Box Office is a shining ray of hope for creators of independent cinema in India. It is also a treat for audiences who can enjoy such films in the comfort of their homes, which in times of a pandemic is a boon. I think ShemarooMe Box Office is going to lead the way when it comes to showcasing fantastic content.
The web space also has shows that contain a lot of risqué scenes; will you accept parts in stories with such content?
Today, a lot of content tries to push the envelope in the name of reality; we have to find a balance between shock value and subtlety. I personally think that web series off late have been dwelling too much on the explicit but I wouldn’t comment on whether that is right or wrong, as after all cinematic liberty is also a very important part of the creative process. I have certain dignified boundaries that I’ve drawn for myself. However, having said that, I’d say that as long as it doesn’t come off as cheap or vulgar, I am ready to dive into any kind of role.
Would you accept a role only if you relate to it?
As an actor, we won’t get served characters that we identify with all that time. I couldn’t even relate to my character Shalini in 376D in the beginning, but we need to understand that in cinema there is much more than what meets the eye, there are so many layers. Behind the illustrious degree and dignified stance, there is a lot more depth to my character in the film that one doesn’t know about. An interesting tid-bit is my character’s father was also a lawyer, which explains a lot of her ideology.
Name some favourite directors you would love to work with?
Vishal Bharadwaj and Anurag Kashyap are two names on my bucket list.
Any favourite actors you would like to share the screen with?
Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Tabu, Richa Chaddha, and Manoj Bajpayee.