“I WANT TO BE A LAMBI RACE KA GHODA”
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
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.