In this interview, Bollywood actress Shreya Dhanwanthary talks about her association with ‘Chup’ and her preparation for the part of Nila, her portrayal of different journalist characters in films and her upcoming projects.
Having made her Bollywood debut in the 2019 film ‘Why Cheat India’ opposite Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary has gone on to carve a niche for herself playing a wide array of strong female characters in popular shows such as ‘The Family Man,’ ‘Scam 1992,’ and ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11.’ She recently essayed a journalist named Nila Menon who loves the world of cinema in R. Balki’s latest directorial ‘Chup: Revenge of the Artist.’
In this interview, she talks about her association with ‘Chup’ and her preparation for the part of Nila, her portrayal of different journalist characters in films and series, her struggle as an industry outsider, OTT boom, and her upcoming projects.
Q. Tell us about your association with Chup. How did you prepare for the part of Nila?
A. So, my association with most of my projects ends up by writing love letters to the directors that I want to work with. And luckily they don’t mind the letter that I write because then they give me work and with this it so happened that I wrote to R. Balki and he responded by offering the film to me which is unbelievable and I still can’t believe that it happened. But yes, it’s an overwhelming feeling. And to talk about the preparation for the part I feel like I have been preparing my entire life for this because the one thing that is similar between the character that I essay and me is the fact that we both love films. So I feel like I have been preparing for it my entire life.
Q. You have essayed journalist characters in Scam 1992, Mumbai Diaries 26/11 as well as Chup. How did your approach vary while preparing for these characters?
A. Ah, yes. So I have played every imaginable form of journalist here in India, entertainment, TV, field, and financial investigators. So, I feel like it’s high time I pass the baton to someone else. But, yes, each one has a different set of requirements and paradigms that they work within. So once you get exactly which part, which vertical you belong to, I think the rest is pretty alright.
Q. You chemistry with Dulquer Salmaan in Chup has been one of the major talking points. What is it that makes it tick? What kind of screen conversations did the two of you have on the sets?
A. Well, see, this is my aim as an actor. I wish to have chemistry with every single person I am on screen with and I don’t mean that just romantically whether my mother, or the inspector I have worked with like everybody. I feel to generate a good relationship—to be able to find the honesty between the two characters and forming the link between the two characters. So I mean, as I think if you were angling for the truth in what you are portraying and your relationship with the person next to you then I think chemistry can happen or may happen? I don’t know. I am new so… I guess I got lucky.
Q. You have been quite vocal about your struggles as an actor. Why do you think film business is usually so tough for outsiders? What would be your advice to aspiring actors?
A. Well, no actually I haven’t been quite vocal. I have just basically said that there is no comparison with people who have connections in the industry, whereas people who are coming from outside. I mean, sometimes, more often than not, it happens where people come from literally outside the country or literally outside the city, which happened in my case, so there’s no comparison. Yes, and the struggles… it’s still an ongoing thing, right? Because you still don’t know a lot of people, you still have to form connections, you still have to sort of prove yourself. I think without connections, having one bad friend to your credit and you will have to work a lot to erase that. Whereas a lot of people who can get away with so called commercially not profitable sort of films, right? And doesn’t affect their standing for a lot of people and a lot of us it does. We have to constantly prove ourselves. But I mean, if we are here so we might as well have fun along the way.
Q. You have tasted great success on the OTT. Almost everything that you have done has been widely praised. What do you attribute it to? Also, how do you look at the OTT boom?
A. Yes, I think where I am now even Chup happened because of The Family Man, Scam 1992, and Mumbai Diaries. And luckily I have been part of three of the biggest shows in the country. That’s a great boon, honestly. And it’s great. Because I think the play ground has just got wider. I genuinely hope that the OTT space continues to take risks. I feel like somewhere may be that has diaper down a bit, so I hope they continue to take risks behind and in-front of the screen and the boom will continue.
Q. How big a setback it was when Why Cheat India didn’t get the kind of response everyone was hoping for? How did you keep yourself motivated in between?
A. Yes, honestly when Cheat India release, I got great response where people noticed me and my performance. So I figured, if I work hard and I do good work, maybe people will notice me even if it’s in a film that hasn’t bought commercially at the box office. But I found out to great lament that that doesn’t happen. So, yes, it is heartbreaking when the first movie that you put out there is not sort of welcomed. So you want to do and be better. And, it is hard while you wait. But this is where OTT came in and helped a lot of us. So yes, I am here.
Q. What are your upcoming projects?
A. There are a couple of things that I can’t talk about right now. But there’s one with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the director Sabbir Khan, titled as Adbhut which I am not really sure when it is coming but it is almost ready and in edit right now. And I have the new seasons of the shows that people are hopefully waiting for.