Interview | Srishti Srivastava says being an outsider has its advantages too
Srishti Srivastava talks to Hindustan Times about her new film Dhavak, her understanding of advantages and disadvantages of being an outsider and how one needs to maintain a balance on social media.
Srishti Srivastava is a known face on screen and finds her journey from a YouTube channel to the silver screen and then an OTT platform an “exhilarating” one. The 29-year-old is also on Hindustan Times’s prestigious 30 Under 30 list. After starting from scratch with Girliyapa and then featuring in Gully Boy and Gulabo Sitabo, Srishti now headlines the film Dhavak. She plays an athlete who agrees to marry the guy who can defeat her in a race.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Srishti opened up about Dhavak that is streaming on Amazon miniTV. She also shared her views on how the journey of an insider can be as difficult as that of a star kid and quoted Vicky Kaushal in explaining her understanding of the insider-outsider debate. Excerpts:
How has your journey been so far? Amitabh Bachchan even wrote a letter to appreciate you after Gulabo Sitabo.
When you are going through it, sometimes it is horrible and sometimes great. Now when I see at my younger self, it feels like an exhilarating journey. It had to be this way. It had to start from theatre to Girliyapa which became so big and then eventually this journey of rejections, shoot stress, insecurities, I had to go through all that. The journey was totally worth it, it made me a better actor, much more confident about my craft. I always wanted that my craft should be so strong that nothing can harm me.
Did Gully Boy and Gulabo Sitabo lead to more and better offers after their release?
Yes. Even though it was a smaller role, people remember me as Albina from Gully Boy. Gulabo Sitabo came at a time when everyone was at home, it was the first major film to release on OTT, so it reached a lot of people. The downfall of this is -- since shoots weren’t happening, it didn’t translate immediately into work offers. It happened 8-9 months later when I bagged something else. That time was very difficult for me.
How did you land the role in Dhavak. Are you really an athlete?
All my stories begin with that I was chilling at home, watching TV and I got a call from director Abhishek Sharma who wanted me to play Sudha Singh in Dhavak. I am not an athlete but I work out and have played tennis. I have actually danced a lot in college days.
How much did you run for the movie?
I was only running. I trained for four months before the actual shoot. I would reach Andheri every morning at 6 am and would have 2 hours of rigorous painful training. I am used to working out so it was fun. I was literally running in Isapur where I used to be running in just T-shirt and shorts in chilling winters.
Will you agree to such a competition to look for a life partner in real life?
I am really not about competition when it comes to partners, I am about a connection and love. Its just that Sudha is a different person than me.
Are your parents also behind you to get married?
They are not behind me but they wish sometimes. My mom would like me to get married someday but I have managed to make them understand that if I get married, it will be with someone whom I love and not for the sake of it. I am single and not even thinking about it. It’s a nice phase where I am learning more about myself.
There have been a few Swayamvar shows on TV but hardly any of them have led to successful marriages. Do you find something is wrong with the idea?
If the audience is watching it, its fine. I don’t want to judge anything. I realise everyone has different choices. The reason that Swayamvar has so many seasons, its working in some way. Its okay. I wouldn’t do it but if people are doing it and enjoying it, why not?
Does being an outsider really make it very tough for you, as compared to star kids?
There is hope for outsiders, we have a Vicky Kaushal. He is Sham Kaushal’s son but he didn’t go to someone’s office and said, ‘take my son.’ It doesn’t work like that. On Koffee With Karan, Karan Johar asked Vicky Kaushal, ‘What do you think about people who are struggling? What is true and what is false?’ He said, ‘the truth is that the struggle is real.’ Yes, its real. You have to carve a path. There is an advantage that outsiders have. They are able to get multiple chances, if one project doesn’t work out, you can give an audition somewhere else and it may work out. The problem with being an insider is – there are eyes on you. The expectations are so high that if you get the biggest launch in which you are even decent, you will be scrutinised to the T. The struggle is on both sides.
I have reached a place in my life where I can say that they (insiders) also have their struggles, they are working very hard every day, so are we. I believe if you work hard and have faith, you can actually do it if you want that bad. I know how bad I want it so I am not going to stop at any cost. I will get going and will get there where I see myself.
It is a tough industry, you go through so many rejections that you start questioning yourself about what is that I am doing wrong. Sometimes, its not about you being a bad actor. Sometimes its also about the producer wanting something else, or someone’s look fits better. It is as simple as that. Actors take it too seriously and it creates problems.
Have you been replaced by a star kid?
It’s not about a star kid but the crazy competition in this industry. Go to Andheri, you will find an actor every 10 seconds. When we start, its only full of who’s better, who’s doing more or less. Sadly, it’s also about who’s getting more followers. I had a very tough time initially because I used to constantly compare. When you have social media in hand, you constantly check what’s working, who’s working. Everyone is only posting happy things, you feel like, “Oh my god, why is he/she getting more work than me?” I am sure the other person who I am stalking is also feeling the same. The insecurity and the fear is insane. As I grew up, I have realised that if there are one crore actors, then there are one crore different journeys. Either you will get a Karan Johar film for your launch or you have to start from a very small ad you shot for ₹5000 during college days. And then you come to a point where Bachchan sir sends you a letter. You have to understand that your journey will never be like someone else’s. No two journeys are same.
Many noted actors have expressed concern that social media is affecting chances of success and stardom?
I will tell you the positives first. Earlier, you had to send your actual photographs for an audition. Now because of Instagram, everyone has an accessibility to an actor very easily in terms of casting directors, directors, producers. The portfolio is ready. For me as an actor, it is very important.
Now after using Instagram, you tend to put more stuff out there. Sometimes it totally gets out of hand. There is so much there that you don’t realise when you spend two hours just going through reels and nothing registers. You never remember anything after one hour. I think we should balance it out.