Marathi entertainer SHRUTI MARATHE gets talking about breaking the mould, shattering stereotypes, and forging ahead…
The Marathi entertainment industry – whether it is films, television or theatre – never ceases to surprise you with the sheer talent it throws up. What matters here is just aptitude and nothing else. And Pune has been a major centre to bring up talent more often. It seems like there is something in the water of the city that allows pure talent to grow freely and well. Even in this, the acting talent from the city has done remarkably well and not just made the city proud, but also the state. Shruti Marathe is such a name that has been making waves not just in the Marathi entertainment industry, but also in Hindi and down South. For almost a decade, her name has been synonymous not just with good acting, but also with glamour and style. While she began her career in 2008 with the Shreyas Talpade produced Sanai Choughade, her career in the South created waves with films like Indira Vizha, Naan Avanillai 2, Guru Shishyan and Aravaan. Of course, she came back to Marathi films with Teecha Baap Tyaacha Baap, Satya, Savitree Ani Satyawan, Premsutra, Tujhi Majhi Love Story, Rama Madhav, Taptapadi, and Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai 2. In recent times, she was also seen in the Hindi film Budhia Singh – Born to Run opposite Manoj Bajpai. While she started with Peshwai, her serial Radha Hi Bawari created a sensation for its bold storyline and made Shruti popular amongst the masses. Now you see her in the popular Jaago Mohan Pyaare, a comedy serial revolving around a genie and a man in distress. Frank yet thoughtful, bold yet sensitive, and charming to a fault, you are just enamoured the moment you meet her. And she is no holds barred when it comes to talking about her choices, films and everything else. She is an interviewer’s delight…
FROM THE START
Most Shruti Marathe fans want to
know more about her. We want her to tell us about her background, right from her family and education to absolutely everything. Shruti tells us just about everything. “I was born in Baroda, Gujarat, and moved to Pune when I was just about one year old. That was because my father wanted to start his business here. I did my schooling and college from St. Mira’s. I am a trained Kathak and Bharatnatyam dancer. And that is why I always had a wish to do something in the creative field, be it dance, drama, acting or anything. So, I started doing theatre a little. And I did a couple of plays.” One can say it was the stepping-stone for the future. “I actually did my first serial when I was in the tenth. It was called Peshwai, which was produced by Smita Talwalkar and directed by Sanjay Surkar. I remember that I shot for the serial in the morning and gave my Sanskrit paper between 3 to 6 later. I was really excited, or rather I was looking forward to start a career in this. But there was always a condition from home that unless I finish my graduation, I am not going to go anywhere from Pune,” she recalls. Fair enough! And the quintessential good daughter followed the orders and completed her Bachelor’s in English Literature from St. Mira’s college. Along with her studies, she kept her acting passion alive by doing a lot of theatre. “Since St. Mira’s doesn’t have a lot of theatre background, I was with certain groups who helped me do theatre. Once I graduated, I started looking for work in Mumbai. And that’s how I did my first film, which was Sanai Choughade. It was produced by Shreyas Talpade. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I got an offer from the South. A photographer friend of mine said that there is a friend of his who is in Chennai and is casting for a Tamil film, which is a remake of Aitraaz. And they are looking for casting someone for Kareena’s role. So would I be willing to do it?” Such an opportunity comes rarely, and so Shruti jumped at it. Her only issue was having a language barrier. “They said that is not an issue as a lot of actors who work there do not know
the language. But if I am interested, he can go ahead and can connect with the people. So I said of course, why not? This is something new and I really wanted to try it. So he got me connected to Vijay, who later turned my manager.” Vijay explained everything and again confirmed if Shruti was interested in the film. “I said yes and asked what I had to do. He said I had to come down to Chennai, because they needed to do a look test of mine. That was because there was no use of an audition, as I did not know the language. So what audition could I give? So I was like fair enough. I don’t mind going to Chennai and so I went. I did a look test. And before I left from there, they said I am on-board.” Obviously Shruti was shocked at the very ease at which she got the film. “I was like, ‘Really? Is it so simple?’ I mean there was no look test. There was no audition. There was no trying harder. There was nothing. How simple is that! He said I fit the bill and I was like, ‘That is great.’ So I finished my first film and then got my second, third and fourth film. So I have done four Tamil films and one Kannada film.”
A COMPLETE SHIFT
But she put a stop to her career down South. It was a decision that confused quite a few since she had become popular there. She reveals, “And a lot of people ask me this question of why did I leave the South. What happened was, I got a little bored because I did not know the language. And as an actor, I felt too dependent. For every small emotion or expression, I had to ask the assistant or director of what it is or the meaning of this word. And I felt handicapped. So I felt I should probably return to Marathi. Though I wished to continue with South and Marathi, it couldn’t happen, because it was difficult juggling between both the industries. So after that, I consciously decided to come back to Pune and Mumbai and start my career in Marathi all over again. Then I did quite a few films.” Her films included Teecha Baap Tyaacha Baap, Satya, Savitree Ani Satyawan, Tujhi Majhi Love Story, Taptapadi, Rama Madhav, Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2 and so on. “Meanwhile, I also did a serial called Radha Hi Bawari and a reality show called Eka Peksha Ek. Currently, I am doing another daily show on Zee Marathi – Jaago Mohan Pyaare,” she lists out. In fact, Jaago... has become quite well liked amongst the masses, and has even been shifted to an earlier timing of 9.30pm thanks to its immense popularity, not just amongst the adult audiences, but also amongst the kids.
STRUGGLE & MAINTAINING POSITION
The entertainment industry is never known to be a stable place. Struggles are a part ad parcel of this world, however established you are. Shruti has gone through that too. She is very frank when it comes to describing her initial years of struggle and trying to get the work she wanted. “It was very difficult, because like I said, I had no godfather or had no one from my family who was part of this industry. So I always had this question from where or how to start. Fortunately, I always had good people in my life, who always supported me or suggested good contacts, and that is how I started.
And then there was no looking back,” she recalls. How easy or difficult was it to sustain in this industry, since it is not a stable kind of a job. Shruti bluntly puts forth, “It is very difficult. I mean, the reason I am telling you this is because I remember I did Radha Hi Bawari and a lot of people typecast me in such a huge way that I am still struggling to come out of it. People saw me in an older way or in a very mature way. They thought I wouldn’t be able to pull off characters that are very lively or bubbly. And that happened quite a lot. And it took me quite a lot of time to convince people that I can definitely do something more than that. And it was kind of a breath of fresh air when people saw me in Jaago Mohan Pyaare, because I am doing something completely different from what people had portrayed me. I am doing something of a gaonwali wearing a kashta or a half nauvari and speaking a language that has never been spoken by me. So I hope that was an eye-opener for a lot of people to know that I can do a lot of different things. It is just that you need to approach it.”
When it comes to Shruti, her films in the South are still spoken about. And the reason is that her work in the films down South is very different from the work we see in the Marathi industry. One can call it quite bold. The question does arise – was it a conscious decision for her to do those kinds of roles there, and do something different out here? She is quite quick with her answer, “Not at all! First of all, I was very young when I did South films. And I am definitely not ashamed of what I have done in the South. A lot of people ask me – oh God, how did you wear a bikini down there and all that? And I always tell them that I am not ashamed that I wore a bikini. But probably because of lack of knowledge then as I was so young, I couldn’t analyse how they are going to take it, or how they are going to show or picturise it. And that probably went a little bit wrong. But still I feel that wearing a bikini down there was quite all right.” When it comes to choosing one’s work, the criterion is different for every actor, whether it is a film or TV or a particular role. Again, Shruti quite candidly states, “I think I am particularly very greedy as an actor, irrespective of whether the role is small or big or anything. It has to, you know, kick me as an actor. It has to be different from what I have done before. It shouldn’t get repetitive and I always look for that. Is it something different? Have I done this before? If no, I would love to do it. That is how I select my roles.” Speaking about being typecast, be it Radha Hi Bawari or the films she did in the South, one assumes it is a conscious thing. Maybe she wants to change that image. Was that something in her mind or did she not look at it? “Definitely! What happened was, when I did South films, and then came to Marathi, nobody Googled me. But when I did Radha Hi Bawari, all of a sudden when I was a household name, all of a sudden, a lot of people started Googling me and the first photos that came on was the South films, and then there was a lot of chaos about it that look yahan pe kaisi hai aur wahan par kaisi hai. But I was like it is absolutely fine. There, it demanded a glamorous kind of Shruti, and here you do not demand that. So those are two different things that I have kept.” Since both are different mediums, one assumes that Shruti might see her work towards movies and TV differently. Shruti agrees with the claim. “For me, television in Marathi for me is stronger than what it is in films. Sadly, considering the way our films are going right now, television is so powerful that in a night, you reach across so many people at home and connect to them. You are popular amongst them. And the story and the way you look at everything changes according to the TRP that comes. So television is a completely different medium. Films, for me, are more satisfying as an actor. Of course, if it does well, there is nothing like it. But if you ask me in terms of satisfaction, then films are what satisfy me the most.” Maybe that is why we do not see Shruti doing too much of TV. “Absolutely! Also I don’t like the routine that goes on television. Every morning, you get up and go for work and then come back. You get tired as an actor. It gets too repetitive.”
In terms of picking up any project, she has become choosy. Maybe earlier she was greedy for roles. Now, the criteria for picking any role must be different. “It has to be good. It has to be nothing else than that. I am done doing character roles. I am done being a character artist. I want to do roles that make people notice it. Even if it is a two-scene role, I am still fine. But people have to talk about it. Otherwise I am not taking it,” she asserts. Shruti is now selective, one can say.
THE TELEVISION TRADE
One can say Radha Hi Bawari was Shruti’s very first role on television as a lead. The serial became big and she became a bonafide star after that. Obviously, after Radha Hi Bawari, she must be getting quite some reaction, as the serial was on a very touchy topic of a successful older woman falling in love with a younger man and vice versa. It was a very different concept. The audience feedback must be different too. Recalling her memories of the serial, Shruti narrates, “I remember before Radha Hi Bawari starting, I was known to some people but not to a lot of people. So the first popularity I got was from Radha Hi Bawari. People came to know that I am Shruti Marathe. I was not used to getting so much attention. So the first feedback after watching the episode was – Arre yeh kitni moti hai. And it broke my heart. I was like, how can people be so mean? Is this all you can see? Yeh kitni moti hai, patli hai or whatever? And I remember crying the whole night. I also remember getting over it and starting to deal with it. And then it changed. And then people started looking at my work. They noticed that she is not only moti. She may be a good actor. Let’s watch her for some time. And that’s how the popularity increased for the serial and it did very well.” Coming back to her present serial, Jaago Mohan Pyaare, it is an interesting concept again on Marathi television, and one wonders what exactly made her accept it. She must never
have dreamt that it would be so popular, not just amongst the older audience, but also the younger one. She reflects, “I liked the concept of the genie thing. I remember, as a kid, I used to watch I Dream of Genie and I used to dream about it or was fascinated by the serial. When I heard the story, I said, ‘Oh, it is kind of similar. I would love to do something like that.’ I mean initially they told me I was only going to be a genie, and later they decided that I was going to be Bhanu – the kaamwali. I was like, ‘This is damn interesting, yaar.’ I have never done a gaon ki chhori speaking with that kind of accent. And I think that was a great opportunity. Because somehow people from the industry or outside always have that image that someone from the gaon or village has to be dusky looking or dark looking. So I never got offered films, which were village-based or those kinds of films. I thought it was a great opportunity. So I just grabbed it.” It has hit bull’s eye and has risen in popularity. The feedback must be different considering the genre of the serial. Shruti is quite happy with the feedback, “I am getting lovely feedback, especially from the kids, because it is their kind of serial. They like all this jaadu tona. When Mohan is in danger, I am the one who is rescuing him and all that. They love to see that. Because the kids see it, it becomes compulsory also for the parents to see it. So it has become a family entertainer.” She gushingly speaks about working with talented actors Supriya Pathare and Atul Parchure. She calls the experience lovely. “They are far more experienced than I am. And they are absolute energy bombs. They have so much energy, so much of talent and so much of experience. It is absolutely great working with them.” Funny incidences related to the show are a must to discuss. “I have little girls coming up to me with their parents wherever they meet me somewhere. They are like, ‘Shruti tai, can you please do me a favour?’ I am like ‘What?’ They say, ‘My birthday is tomorrow. I want a jacket. So can you please click your fingers and get one?’ I say I will try but cannot promise. It is sweet. So these kinds of things I do get from young girls,” Shruti narrates with a smile.
HER JOURNEY TILL DATE
Shruti’s first film was in 2008, and it’s been a decade for her in the industry. She must have seen herself change as a person and as an actor. She agrees, “As a person, I am much calmer right now. I was very hyper in everything in the beginning. ‘ Yaar, yeh shoot kab shuru hoga yaar? Yaar, yeh shoot kab khatam hoga.’ I didn’t know the process. The waiting process is as important as the shooting part. There is the process of hair and make-up, and the process of getting dressed. And I used to get hyper. Yeh kab khatam hoga? Main ghar kab jaungi? When will I sleep? I have to get up the next day and come to shoot. When will all this finish? But once you get the experience, you become calmer and I have become that right now. As an actor, I see a growth in me, because every project teaches you something and every co-actor teaches you something. So I feel I have grown as an actor in a better way, and I want to keep growing.”
TALK OF ROMANCE
Her personal life is quite interesting too. She is married to fellow actor Gaurav Ghatnekar. One wants to know how her romance and eventual marriage with Gaurav came about. She recalls, “Well, we did a film called Tujhi Majhi Love Story. Yes, however clichéd it sounds, we did a film like that. And we finished shooting. And we didn’t start dating until shooting finished. We finished dubbing and the postproduction got over. And almost after the film got over and six to seven months after the film, we realised that there was something more than friendship between us. We took it a little slow and steady then. And we got married on December 4, 2016, where we were dating for four years before that. And then we got married.” If you ask her the best thing and worst thing of marrying a fellow actor, she quickly explains that the best thing would be him understanding her work. “He will understand when I am shooting for long hours. He will understand why I am cranky, because I am so tired. Probably, the negative part is that there can be a time when we are both out of work. And that is scary, because, however you think, we still have to run a house. And it is scary to know that we both might not have work at one time. Touchwood it has not happened as yet.
But that is the scary part of marrying an actor.” There are obviously quite a few influences on each other in terms of picking a role or a project. “We definitely discuss, but eventually the decision is our own. He kind of takes his own decision. But yes, we kind of discuss the good and bad thing of a project. And we take our own calls.”
A DIFFERENT ACTOR TODAY
Today, an actor needs to have a presence in terms of social media. Shruti too gives significance to it. And she does draw a line too. “I think it is important for you to keep connecting with the audience and fans. You are keeping them updated about the projects that you are doing and all that. But yes, there is a thin line. You cannot keep putting everything that is happening in your life, like, ‘I am climbing stairs’ or ‘I went to the bathroom’. You cannot tweet that. There has to be a limit to it. But otherwise I think social media has gone in a very good way. It’s a boon. So let’s not make it a curse.” One does need one’s private space, but an actor cannot get it due to social media. Shruti has a simple explanation to that too, “There is not much of a problem in Pune or Mumbai. Even we go out or are on social media, many people don’t really disturb you. But when we got to other cities, it kind of happens. That is how our profession is. We really cannot do anything about it.”
Shruti has spent a decade in the industry. She must have noticed that kind of change that has happened in terms of interacting with colleagues, etc. She reveals, “It is very friendly. I mean, the girls and boys who have started with me have also reached the same level as I have. And we have seen each other’s journey. So the confidence level is high now. We know how to talk to each other. We are more of friends now. When we started, we were just colleagues or rivals. But it is much decent now.”
MORE IN THE KITTY
The chit-chat is coming to its end. And we want to know about Shruti’s future projects. She explains, “Well, Jaago Mohan Pyaare will continue for some time. There is a film that I did with Subodh Bhave last year, which is due to release, though the name is not final as yet. But it will release around June or July. And it is based on marriage and is an interesting film. I did an English film last year also called Wedding Anniversary. I don’t really know the status of it, but am looking forward to it.” Quite a few actors are turning towards theatre, while some are returning to their roots. We don’t see much of Shruti in theatre. She simply tells, “There is no particular reason. I am just not finding the time to give one to two months to rehearsal right now. And if I do get the time, I would love to do theatre. I really like theatre. Currently, I do not want to do anything that is comedy in theatre. If something different or serious comes my way, I would love to do it.” Web series too are attracting a lot of actors. This too is something that is on Shruti’s radar. “As long as the subject is interesting, I would love to it.” The more you talk to Shruti Marathe, the more you realise that she is who she is, without any filters. The real Shruti is immensely likable as she is lovable on screen. Till the next meet, we want more of Shruti Marathe on screen.