Shweta Tripathi: I am driven by passion and not money or commercial appeal
With four projects last year, Shweta Tripathi Sharma was on a roll. Her demure character in Raat Akeli Hai, curious one in Cargo, fiery in Mirzapur season 2 and protective in The Gone Game Season 1, got her lot of love from the audience and acclaim from the industry. The actor is clear that she wants to do projects that driven by passion and not money or commercial appeal. Sharma has four projects lined up for 2021 and she shares she has played a number of dramatic roles and would love some happy ones too.
With the kind of projects you have done in the last two years, which have been noticed by audiences and industry alike, what do you think of your career progression?
I am not a part of any race. I am here for the joy of acting, which makes me happiest. Ten years ago, when I started my career, my rule book to take up a project was, does it excite me? And even today, it is the same. For me, the team, the cast, the experience matter the most. As actors, we spend so much time on sets and the work relationship behind the camera that stays with you. Luckily, I have worked with so many talented people but also great human beings. Be it Masaan (2015) or Haramkhor (2017), there were ek se badkar ek log, who are driven by passion. More than the budget of the film, the people who are making it are important for me, and that’s why I’ve worked with many debut directors. The energy of the first project is unmatchable.
What were your struggles when you started off as an actor?
I shot Haramkhor first but Masaan released before that. Even today, my struggles are the same. There are times when one feels frustrated that why am I not working? Being on the set is my happy place. I have done Raat Akeli Hai, Gone Game, Cargo and when people say or ask if I want to do only Indie, I tell them, I want to do series, films and commercial stuff too. I want to do projects which have a story worth telling. I don’t want to be driven by labels or society, that money and commercial cinema or appeal is more important but I am driven by passion. Sure, releasing a film in 5000 screen is bigger, I am not delusional but that is not my driving force. I would choose Haramkhor and Masaan over and over, even if you give me a choice of a commercial film. I want to work with directors, toh kal ko if I get a Zoya Akhtar film, I will not do it for the money but for her talent and vision.
With every project, your brand has scaled up. There is a certain expectation. Does help or hinder your choices?
Usually, I do a project and once done, I move on. But with Mirzapur season 2, for the first time, I had a lot of expectations. Pankaj Tripathi had told me that, ek actor ka kaam set pe khatam ho jata hai. We experience emotions and live life via different characters. That is the beauty of acting while publicity, marketing or audience reach is not in your control. That is my joy and what I want to practice. I remember, when I did Masaan, I wanted my character to be different from my real self. Later, with every project, I wanted the characters to be unlike what I had played before. Soon, I realised that I need to research, meet more people, know more stories. As an actor, I don’t like to derive emotion from my personal experience. This year, my agenda is to be more of a student. I am focusing on my health, learning ballet and contemporary as I want to learn and grow. I am taking acting workshops with actor Rajit Kapur, who I admire. This way, I am getting a chance to explore more sides to myself.
With every show now, multiple seasons are now a given. How do you work around playing the same character repeatedly every season?
When we took on web series, we didn’t realise that there would be seasons. Pehle yeh samajh nahin thi. What is most challenging is that the characters don’t age every season as much but you do every year. Director Vikramaditya Motwane said that series are an actor’s medium while feature film is a director’s medium. Now, there is a better understanding about series and one has to ensure quality as a series is long term investment, in terms of emotion, availability and money.
How do you look at the evolution of OTT over the last few years and especially after 2020?
Now you have the content from around the world at the touch of a button. The audience is spoilt for choice but also what is important is that we have freedom of speech and expression. So, we have to be responsible for you we are putting out. We have to take ownership of our content. We didn’t have that or do that earlier. Most content few years ago was about violence and sex. Today, it is much more than that. Laakhon Mein Ek is one of the shows that doesn’t have violence or nudity. Though not many people have seen it, but I enjoyed playing the character. I am playing a “happy” character in one of my upcoming shows and I am so glad as I played one too many dramatic ones and wanted a break.
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