With the Bri­tish TV se­ries Beecham House, Shriya Pil­gaonkar is shoot­ing for the stars and prov­ing her­self worth of her par­ents’ Sachin and Supriya Pil­gaonkar’s legacy. She speaks about work­ing on the se­ries with the very tal­ented Gurinder Chadha and makin

Society - - CONTENTS - By Sapna Sar­fare

With an im­por­tant role in the up­com­ing Bri­tish TV se­ries Beecham House, Shriya Pil­gaonkar is prov­ing her­self worth of her par­ents’ Sachin and Supriya Pil­gaonkar’s act­ing tal­ent. She speaks to So­ci­ety about the TV se­ries, work­ing with Gurinder Chadha and be­ing in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

It’s in the blood. Yes, the chances of be­ing tal­ented can be in the blood. The dis­cus­sion of nepo­tism will be eter­nal in the film in­dus­try. But ex­cep­tions are there who are not de­pen­dent on their fam­ily for their ca­reer. They want to make their mark on their own. And some of them are suc­ceed­ing on their own steam. Shriya Pil­gaonkar is one such young lass who is a chip off the old block. Daugh­ter of ac­tor-film­maker par ex­cel­lence Sachin Pil­gaonkar and ac­tress Supriya Pil­gaonkar, she has been cre­at­ing her own niche since she was launched by her fa­ther in the Marathi film Ekulti Ek. Of course, she had worked as a child artist in her fa­ther’s shows. Yet her jour­ney to­wards suc­cess in the en­ter­tain­ment world is her own. Be it star­ring op­po­site Shah Rukh Khan in Fan and act­ing in a French movie Un Plus Une or act­ing in plays with stal­warts, she is choos­ing her projects wisely. Now she is a real mark in­ter­na­tion­ally with a meaty role in ac­claimed film­maker Gurinder Chadha’s Beecham House. We are ob­vi­ously ea­ger to know about the TV se­ries, her role and how she got it. This Bri­tish TV se­ries, she says, is a pe­riod drama

set around the be­gin­ning of 19th cen­tury Delhi. “The char­ac­ter I play is called Chan­chal. She’s young, feisty, ad­ven­tur­ous girl whose past is shrouded in mys­tery,” Shriya re­veals. “She comes to the pala­tial Beecham house with John Beecham (Tom Bate­man) and his child. It’s a re­ally ex­cit­ing char­ac­ter to play be­cause of how many shades she has to her. She is a girl who wants to ex­plore the world but is also loyal to her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. She is dis­cov­er­ing a lot about life and love through the ex­pe­ri­ences she has. I just wrapped the Lon­don sched­ule of the show and it’s been an ab­so­lute joy ride! I had au­di­tioned for this part in May and I was fi­nal­ized for it in Au­gust. Although I have done a French film be­fore, Beecham House will be my first in­ter­na­tional project where I am one of the leads which is very ex­cit­ing!” Work­ing with some­one like Gurinder Chadha would be an achieve­ment for any­one from the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. Shriya ear­lier had spo­ken about work­ing with Chadha call­ing it as ex­pe­ri­ence. She adds, “Gurinder has al­ways been driven to tell di­verse sto­ries across dif­fer­ent cul­tures. Beecham House is a pas­sion project for her and she en­cour­ages us to de­velop our char­ac­ters with her which is won­der­ful. That’s the kind of equa­tion an ac­tor al­ways seeks to have with the di­rec­tor. She is re­ally fun to work with and she keeps the en­ergy go­ing on set! We all feel like we’re mak­ing some­thing spe­cial while col­lab­o­rat­ing on this se­ries.” Beecham House has quite a few renowned names and Shriya is ea­ger to share her ex­pe­ri­ences work­ing with them. “We have a won­der­ful set of In­dian and Bri­tish ac­tors and we all got along in­stantly. Ev­ery­one is ex­cep­tional – Tom Bate­man, Mark War­ren, Les­ley Nicole who was in Down­town Abbey and Bessie Carter and there are some lovely ac­tors from In­dia as well! Ev­ery­one’s body of work is so di­verse. It’s been re­ally nice to get to know them in per­son and their jour­ney. We have a blast while shoot­ing and I am look­ing for­ward to the In­dia sched­ule of the shoot so that we can show them around as well.” Of course, Shriya’s process of pick­ing up a project and role boils down to the right script. “I’d rather do a small part in a strong script where I am con­tribut­ing to the film than a big part in a not so ap­peal­ing story where I’m pas­sive. It’s im­por­tant to have a good rap­port with the di­rec­tor as well. That’s very im­por­tant to me. If I en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence of read­ing the script and have faith in the team, then I go ahead with it. Ev­ery medium or the lan­guage has its own unique thrill. I have done dif­fer­ent work in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and in dif­fer­ent lan­guages, so I am hop­ing to con­tinue do­ing that. At the end of the day no mat­ter how much you strate­gize, that project picks you rather you choos­ing it.” Her route to suc­cess seems rock solid and sane.

You need to fol­low Shriya’s ca­reer graph to know that she does not be­lieve in lim­it­ing her tal­ent to any­thing spe­cific. One can say she has been quite pro­lific in terms of her work. But one as­sumes it still both­ers her that many would re­fer to your fam­ily for mak­ing life eas­ier in this field. Shriya does not think so. “I would take it as a com­pli­ment that no one has ever said that to me. The nepo­tism dis­cus­sion al­ways amuses me be­cause how do we de­fine what ‘ easy’ is? Peo­ple only bring it up when you’re not good at your job. When you do well, it doesn’t strike them. Of course, it ex­ists in ev­ery field. I don’t deny that there are ad­van­tages. But it guar­an­tees noth­ing, es­pe­cially not tal­ent and suc­cess. When your tal­ent speaks out, peo­ple think about all of those things. There is just that much push that your fam­ily can give you, other than that, it’s all on you. I be­lieve that your work should speak for your­self.” Her pri­mary fo­cus is do­ing good work all the time and evolv­ing as an ac­tor con­tin­u­ously. If you are not aware of her par­ents – Sachin and Supriya Pil­gaonkar, then you are just not aware of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try at all. Just about every­body knows that they are ter­rific artists. What do she think she has in­her­ited from them in­di­vid­u­ally? Shriya puts the ques­tion ball in their court to an­swer. “But I am a mix of both in many ways I am told. I am a lot like mom in my man­ner­isms and the way I talk. Peo­ple tell me that of­ten. I would say I have in­her­ited my spirit of seek­ing and ad­ven­ture from my mother. She al­ways en­cour­ages me to travel and ex­plore the world and to be fear­less. When I talk about seek­ing, I also mean in terms of spir­i­tu­al­ity. We’re al­ways work­ing on our in­ner self as the start­ing point to any­thing. Mom is my best friend and my go to per­son for ev­ery­thing.” Ask her fur­ther about her dad and pat comes the re­ply. “I look up to my dad for so many things. He has done such in­cred­i­ble work as an ac­tor and film­maker. I want to be as ver­sa­tile as he is. I am amazed at

his en­ergy to evolve and his zest for life. It keeps me go­ing. Dad of­ten tells me that I am so much like how he was at my age. I would say that my at­ti­tude to­wards life is like dad and I guess we both have al­ways been very en­ter­pris­ing. I like to see the best in peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions. I have in­her­ited a lot of pas­sion and my abil­ity to deal with peo­ple from him too.” There is one more fun thing she in­her­ited from her dad – her love for food! “What I haven’t in­her­ited is the level of my dad’s dis­ci­pline. I can be very lazy at times!” De­spite be­ing an in­dus­try kid, one as­sumes that it is dif­fi­cult to get work de­spite be­ing tal­ented. Shriya feels that be­ing in the in­dus­try and get­ting work is a com­bi­na­tion of tal­ent, luck and op­por­tu­nity. “I am not im­pa­tient. I think of my ca­reer as a 50 year ca­reer not a 5 year one. A lot of peo­ple won­dered why I hadn’t done a film sooner post Fan but things take their own time to pan out as per your vi­sion and you need to trust your process with­out com­par­ing your jour­ney to any­one else’s. I want to be a Lambi Race Ka Ghoda. I have al­ways been taught as a child that you can­not feel en­ti­tled. In my mind there is no con­cept of some­one de­serv­ing or not de­serv­ing some­thing so my job as an ac­tor is to be good at my craft and serve that by re­ally be­ing sin­cere to my work.” She fur­ther com­ments, “I don’t think it is my job to de­cide how much I have to suc­ceed. Of course I am am­bi­tious and there are so many things I want to do and achieve my­self and I won’t com­pro­mise on my dreams for sure. But yes, it’s all about tim­ing. When it’s your time, you shine! Ev­ery­one has their ups and downs in the in­dus­try but you have to keep at it be­cause all the best sto­ries are like that!” Her Hindi de­but movie Fan was with the king of Bol­ly­wood, Shah Rukh Khan. But it sadly didn’t work though it was crit­i­cally ap­pre­ci­ated. Shriya opines, “Com­pared to other Shah Rukh Khan movies, Fan might have not done quite well but I think I got the most out of it in terms of the ex­pe­ri­ence I had on that film and work­ing with Shah Rukh and Man­ish I wouldn’t change a thing about it. And the film it­self was at­tempt­ing to do many things that hadn’t been done be­fore so I am proud to have started my Hindi film ca­reer with a project like that which was some­thing out of the box. I was ap­pre­ci­ated for my part which I was happy about so I wouldn’t change a thing. And be­sides, who doesn’t want to be ro­manced by SRK on screen.” Shriya is clear about the kind of roles she wants. She wants to do it all. “Ac­tors are al­ways greedy to be part of ev­ery­thing! This year I have got to do roles that are very dif­fer­ent from each other rang­ing from a gang­ster drama to a po­lit­i­cal satire to a pe­riod drama which is re­as­sur­ing that I haven’t been stereo­typed. I feel like I would re­ally en­joy do­ing a fun rom-com or an ac­tion film at this point. I have my wish list of di­rec­tors - Ra­jku­mar Hi­rani, Anurag Kashyap, Im­tiaz Ali, Neeraj Ghay­wan and there are many more!” She is also quite gung-ho about want­ing to work with Ran­bir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal. The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, these days, thrives on be­ing in the gos­sip columns. But Shriya has kept a good dis­tance from any gos­sip or such things. She winks and replies, “That ei­ther means that I’m re­ally bor­ing or that I’m smart about be­ing low key. You de­cide.” The chat is about to end and we quickly ask her about her fu­ture projects. She re­sponds, “I am re­ally ex­cited about my film with Anub­hav Sinha called Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. We had a blast shoot­ing that film in Lucknow with such a fan­tas­tic en­sem­ble. I have 2 web se­ries re­leas­ing this year. One is a gang­ster drama Mirza­pur pro­duced by Ex­cel en­ter­tain­ment for Ama­zon and the other is a thriller called 13 Mus­soorie. I will be­gin shoot­ing for an­other film early next year.” Young and with a sane head on her shoul­ders, Shriya Pil­gaonkar is a rev­e­la­tion. This tal­ented lady is worth putting your bet on for a longer run.

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