Shriya Pilgaonkar: In terms of opportunities, OTT has been career-defining for me
You have been receiving rave reviews for your performance in ‘Taaza Khabar’. How does it feel?
I am very happy that 2023 has started on such a positive note for me. I am super thrilled to be reading all the reviews and receiving all the love that’s coming for ‘Taaza Khabar’ and for my character Madhu.
What really attracted you to this character?
After playing a lawyer in ‘Guilty Minds’ and a news reporter in ‘Broken News’, I was looking for something different, even in terms of look. I always like to surprise people with what I am capable of. I loved Madhu’s character as it was not a typical portrayal of a sex worker. She is someone who doesn’t carry the weight of her profession. In fact, she is somebody who has hopes and dreams, and I loved that. I also felt that, as a genre, Taaza Khabar was different from what I had done before. I enjoyed working with the team and loved the script too.
As an actor, it is very important to me that people visualise me in different characters. For me, establishing myself as a versatile actor is the absolute goal.
How was it working with Bhuvan Bam?
Bhuvan is wonderful to work with. His journey is very inspiring, from making content on his phone to producing his own show. I think it is great when people take control of the narrative. It is something that I also aspire to do. I want to produce and work on stories that fascinate and inspire me. He is a great guy. He is really very hardworking, and he has done a great job in ‘Taaza Khabar’.
You have been experimenting with your looks and characters of late with your roles, be it ‘Sweety’ of Mirzapur, ‘Kashaf’ of Guilty Minds, ‘Radha’ of ‘The Broken News’ and most recently Madhu…
Experimenting with my looks has been a conscious decision because I feel that actors tend to get stereotyped. That is something I definitely don’t want for myself. I spent a lot of time developing the look of my character, whether it is the curls that Kashaf has, the way Radha’s body language is or the spunk and sassiness of Madhu. I wanted to introduce variations. I think that is how I will attract different kinds of work. Eventually, I want to be remembered through these characters. I also want all these characters to leave a mark, not just performance wise, but visually as well.
The process of building, not just the personality but also the look of the character is something I give priority to. It’s enjoyable for me to transform myself. There are several actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Meryl Streep, Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra, and others who have transformed themselves for the characters they are playing on screen. I think that is super fun and challenging, which I love to do.
With the advent and popularity of OTT, the star system is fading, and content is the new king. Do you agree?
I absolutely agree. I think it is a great time to be an actor. It is wonderful to see that the writers are getting their due. Good content is being praised. You cannot fool the audience today, and that is the best part. We are going back to the basics of good writing. However, I also feel that there are instances when casting happens based on an actor’s fan following. But I am not cynical because we also have enough examples of actors who have gotten their due, like Rajashree Deshpande, Tillotama Shome, and many others. They have come up so beautifully, and their career graphs are also so inspiring. In terms of opportunities, OTT has been career-defining for me. It is evolving, and there is enough scope to experiment fearlessly.
How do you look back at your journey so far?
I have absolutely no regrets of any kind. There are things that I could have handled differently or done better, but I do believe that where I am now is the sum of all my experiences and all my learnings. For me, each new project is like my debut. Today, many introduce me as someone who is doing very well in the OTT space. But I also want to balance it with films. I love both the mediums. I have big dreams. 2022 has been a very special year for me. I hope that same energy spills over into this year as well. I am more ambitious than I have ever been.