Acting is much more than just increasing my IMDB list: Shweta Tripathi
Charles Bukowski says, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” Actor Shweta Tripathi likes to find her characters and lets them transform her as a person. She feels she has grown as a person with each character that she has played. Her body of work so far conforms her assertion that she doesn’t do projects just to increase her IMDB list. Here Shweta gets candid with Pandolin about her upcoming web series The Trip, her film Zoo shot on an iPhone and her process as an actor.
What is The Trip about? What character do you play?
The Trip is one last ride for the bride, it’s a bachelorette road trip of four girls from Delhi to Thailand.
My character Ananya Makhija is the bride-to-be. These three girls are the closest and most special people in my life. The plan is to spend the days before my marriage with these special friends of mine.
There are more differences than similarities in all the characters that I have played so far
It involves the girl gang going on a trip. Was the traveling aspect something that drew you?
Definitely! I love to travel. Rather I would say that I earn to travel. Whatever project I do, I keep fifty percent of its earnings aside and travel with that amount. This year itself, I have been to Greece, Switzerland, Bangkok, Dubai, Shillong and again next month I am traveling for a real bachelorette.
So, when I heard that we’re going to travel for the project I was pretty convinced about doing it. Not that I didn’t read the script (Laughs). But one of the biggest attractions was Shillong. I have been dying to travel to Shillong and finally it came true with this.
Was foraying into the web series format an obvious choice due to the popularity of the medium? Are you open to more such projects now?
Not really! I had got a lot of offers for other web series’ as well. I feel every actor is bombarded with web offers these days because the content is mushrooming so fast. But as a professional, I have this clarity of doing projects only if they excite me. Otherwise, I just give it a pass. And if the project is exciting then the medium doesn’t matter. Knowing the producers is also important. In this case it was Disney.
Disney has a special place in my heart because I started my career with Kya Mast hai Life. From my co-actors, director, producers to the travel itinerary, everything felt right about this project. I was the last one to come on board among all the other actors and I said ‘yes’ to it in two days. That’s the shortest period that I have taken to convince myself for any project.
Talking about being open about the medium, as I have already spoken, I do not have any apprehensions about any of the mediums. I just want to act. It could be ten web series’ back to back or ten feature films. The only deciding factor is the script.
My itch to explore is increasing
You have worked in almost all mediums. Now with Zoo even on a mobile phone. How does your method change accordingly?
If you are true to the character, your method would primarily be the same. It would be guided by the demands of the character. There will be a different process that I’d like to find with each and every character. I do not want that process to be the same with all the characters unless I find something that really works foolproof. So, maybe there will be some techniques that I’d like to repeat but I’d let the character talk to me. I believe in reading the script several times. I constantly think about the people I know who are similar to the character.
Approaching a character is a very different journey. As an artist you always have to be open and keep exploring. You could get an inspiration from a film or from a real person on the road. The universe will make a path for that character to come to you.
So, it wasn’t very different?
I wouldn’t say that. The process is different. A film camera is huge. For an actor, the presence of a camera is very obvious in that case. But with an iPhone the game is different. Our D.O.P Rangarajan Ramabadran would perform with the scene. So essentially, he would move with the camera fluidly and keep it at places that one cannot imagine with a film or digital camera. So it is very intimate. I wouldn’t say my acting style changed because of the change in camera but definitely it was a different process while working.
Will you be able to pinpoint how you have evolved as an actor while creating so many characters in different mediums?
I can tell you how I have evolved as a person. How have I evolved as an actor is for others to decide. As a person, I feel more confident now. My itch to explore is increasing. My will and intention to act more keeps on increasing. Acting is more than just increasing my IMDB list. I want to act because nothing else makes me happier. I truly love being in front of the camera.
The characters that I play add on to my personality. I learnt so much from Shalu (Her character in Masaan). Her intention is so clear. She is a beautiful soul. Sandhya (Her character in Haraamkhor) falls in love with a married teacher. These are emotions that I have never felt. But as an actor I have to step into the shoes of the character and see the world from their eyes. I have begun to understand life more. Patience is something that I have earned as a byproduct of this process.
In Zoo, I play a drug addict. That’s again miles away from who I am as a person. Even Ananya Makhija (Her character in The Trip) is very different from who I am. She’s a Punjabi girl born and brought up in Delhi and is from an affluent background. She lives a lifestyle which is very aspirational. I don’t say that there is no similarity between any of the characters and me. But there are more differences than similarities in all the characters that I have played so far. I am much closer to knowing these characters after performing them. I just feel that it’s making me a better human being. I would like to thank my characters for that. Yes, they aren’t tangible but for me they are as good as real because I have lived them.
As an artist you always have to be open and keep exploring
This is your second film with Shlok Sharma. What is the work equation like?
He is such an amazing human being. It’s fun working with him. He will never force anything, any emotion, and discuss the complete scene with you. If he is unhappy, you will feel it. He doesn’t even have to say. You can read it on his face. I’d say, “Shlok nahin maza aaya na? Chal ek aur karte hain! (I’d say, “Shlok, I know it wasn’t good enough. Let’s go for another one!”)
We understand each other well. Both of us started together with Haraamkhor. We share a very special bond. Whenever he asks me to do a part, I cannot say no. He trusted in me and gave me my first film when I was a nobody. He stood by me! It is very important for someone to trust you. More importantly, when you do not have a godfather in the industry, it means a lot! I will always be there for Shlok because he’s always been there for me.
When you are not acting what are the other things that interest you and keep you busy?
I am always traveling. When I am not acting I just like to go somewhere. I am also doing theatre wherein I produce and light plays. As of now, I am also developing my own concept as a film script, which I will start pitching next year. Fingers crossed!
Don’t forget to watch The Trip from December 15, 2017 on the bindaas YouTube channel