A gifted actress, director, producer, and stage performer, Shriya Pilgaonkar was born with acting in her DNA. The daughter of consummate actors, Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar, it was just a matter of time when Shriya would come into her own as an actress of considerable talent. Having made her mark in Bollywood with a remarkable debut in Fan, and with many more interesting films in her kitty, Shriya has only one way to go from here – upwards!
She is now seen in the role of the main protagonist in Viu India’s recently streamed web-series, 13 Mussoorie produced by Sukesh Motwani and Mautik Tolia’s Bodhi Tree Multimedia Pvt. Ltd.
We indulged in a freewheeling chat with Shriya, where she spilled the beans to us on what makes her tick. A few excerpts from the exclusive chat…
Tell us about your experience shooting in Mussoorie?
It was surely exciting. Mussoorie is one of my favourite places. I have travelled there often. In fact, I was really excited to get the opportunity to shoot there. As a child, I have enjoyed reading Ruskin Bond books and novels and have always wanted to meet him. So when I went to Mussoorie 4 years back, I did get to see him. So this is a special place for me altogether.
Also, I enjoy watching thrillers. So when I got a chance to be part of this thriller, I obviously jumped at it. The story and the part I play in 13 Mussoorie is also interesting.
Tell us about your character, Aditi Bisht, in this web-series?
She is a very strong-headed girl who has seen a bit of lull after her marriage. Soon after the death of her father, she finds out about him being a serial killer. She actually comes from a family of cops. And then she encounters this copy-cat killer, who is in Mussoorie to terrorize everyone. Her journey with her relationships, like with her husband, friends and her understanding of the past and her relationship with her father will be very interesting to watch.
What was the best part of playing this character?
Aditi Bisht is intelligent, sensitive, and has a stubbornly resilient side to her. She used to be very ambitious, but after marriage, her life is much more tamed. When she finds out about her father being a serial killer, her life takes a turn. Being an investigative journalist herself, the situation she is in propels a new momentum in her life. She shares a very wonderful relationship with her husband (Viraf Patel). They have a deep friendship going. She keeps a lot of things to herself in order to protect her husband. Also, the fact, that she herself has suppressed violent tendencies, makes her character all the more interesting. She has to make choices at every moment in her life. At the same time, she is discovering herself too.
What is your most memorable moment of shooting in Mussoorie?
There are so many! The weather out there was so unpredictable that every time we used to go to a location, it would rain and we had to cancel shoot. So the best part was to go to a great location, and end up cancelling shoot (smiles).
How was it to work with the great ensemble cast?
It was fun to work with everyone. The show has many interesting characters. Everyone has tried to put in their best and has stood out in their own way.
You have been part of theatre, films and web projects. How have the experiences been?
This year has given me good results. I shot for an Anubhav Sinha film in Lucknow this year, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. I also shot for 13 Mussoorie and Gurinder Chadha’s Beecham House in London. I also shot for Amazon Prime and Excel Entertainment’s web-series, Mirzapur in Varanasi. So this year has been good in terms of working in different places and in different genres.
What are your future plans?
It has been a good journey so far. After my first Hindi movie, Fan, I took some time before I blocked what I wanted to do next. I am glad to have taken up these projects because they are of different genres. I will be starting work for a film early next year. I am looking forward to the release of Anubhav Sinha’s film because I shot it with some wonderful actors. Overall, this is a good time to be working in this industry. As actors, we have the scope to work for different mediums, where creativity in terms of content is enormous.
Your parents, Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar, are wonderfully talented and have done remarkable work as actors.
Yes! It is just about observing them over the years and how they have conducted themselves with so much grace. With the kind of work they have done, they have always lead me by example. They never tell me what to do. I see the way they have done things. That is where I derive my inspiration from. A lot of people tell me that I am more like my mother in the way I talk. My attitude actually comes from my father. Although I cannot match up to my father’s energy, I would like to be as versatile as him for sure. As for my mother, she is a brilliant actor. For me, I value my mother’s opinions, when it comes to acting. I look up to her so much. If I can have half of the grace that my mother has, I will be happy and content.
What is the advice they give you?
The best advice given by my father is that the best way to be different is to be yourself. I don’t try to be like anyone else. Everyone’s journey is so different that you have to carve your own niche.
What’s coming next?
Well, I have started promotions for Mirzapur. I will start shoot for my film early next year. I am focussed on acting right now. I want to try and play different roles.
Your parents have had a great TV experience. Will you ever try out the small screen experience?
Not right now! It is because TV commitments are much longer. Films are the focus for me, as of now. I don’t look down upon TV, but I am not in that frame of mind right now. After Beecham House, I want to try out for more international films too. There is no harm in exploring any language.