Shweta Tripathi's film 'Masaan'has become the talk of the town.Not only have people loved the film, but have also appreciated her acting. The newcomer talks to us in an exclusive interview about Masaan,movies and more.
You have worked in television, as a photo editor even did a technical job and been a theater actress and now on the big screen. What is more challenging?
I am a person who wouldn't take up a project unless I was dedicated to it and was whole - heartedly into it. Whether a video editor or a photo editor I have enjoyed all the work I had undertaken so far. But till date it is theater that is the most challenging of all. But even then I feel sometimes facing the camera can be unforgiving too. For eg, If I am tired or sad,the camera will capture it and show it on the screen. In theater however, you have to make the efforts in staying as real as you can. When it comes to television, the difficult part is to maintain the same kind of character for a long time. I had to play 'Zenia' for 8 long months and it was equally challenging to remain in character for a long time.
How was your experience shooting for Masaan?
It was a brilliant experience shooting for 'Masaan'. I consider myself lucky that I got to work with Neeraj Ghaywan, Varun Grover and Richa Chadda. For a newcomer like me, I certainly had to work hard towards playing 'Shalu'. I tried to dress like her, talk like her I even interacted with the actors who were playing Shalu's friends so as to learn the nuances of a character who is based in a small town. I am a huge fan of Hollywood shows such as ' NewsHour' and 'Breaking Bad' but I did not watch a single episode during the entire shoot so as to make Shalu seem as real as I could.
You said in an interview that you are not comfortable shooting for kissing scenes. Would you turn down a script for the same reason?
Firstly the most over-used phrase in the industry is 'the script demands it'. There is no such thing that the script demands it. If you are not comfortable shooting for such scenes, you have the right to say no. Even during Masaan, Neeraj asked me several times if I was comfortable kissing my co-star Vicky Kaushal and also said that he would scrap the scene if I did not want to do it. For me kissing and being passionate cannot be mechanical. Firstly there are several people around you, there are re-takes if you do not do it well the first time, if not that then there are big lights focused on you. It just makes me jittery so I would rather not do them.
The one thing you have taken from 'Masaan'?
Like I said before it was an amazing experience for me to work on a film like 'Masaan' which is so simplistically made yet has a powerful story to tell. 'There are times when you take things for granted but Masaan makes you realize how important even tiny gestures can be. It shows the lives of people in small towns and how they struggle to against the society for being unfairly wronged. Devi stood up for what her rights and fought against the blackmailing cops and at the same time had to cope up with the loss of her boyfriend. Shalu, inspite of being from a small town was well-acquainted with social media and did not believe in the caste system and readily fell in love with a man belonging to a lower caste. Masaan even though set in a patriarchial society has strong female characters.
A similar incident happened in the city recently like the one they have shown in Masaan where 'Devi' and her boyfriend are arrested in a hotel room. What is your take on moral -policing?
I think we have bigger issues to deal with than catch couples making out. It is a total waste of time and really annoying to interfere in the private lives of individuals.
Tell us about your film 'Haramkhor' and your role in the film.
In Haramkhor, I play the role of a 14 year old school girl who falls for her married teacher. The teacher is played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the movie deals with the issues of teenage love, obsession and extramarital affairs.
So who is the real 'Haramkhor' in the film?
Well we all are Haramkhors in the movie. I am the titular 'Haramkhor' because, even after knowing that my teacher is a married man I still fall for him and pursue him. Nawaz is also 'Haramkhor' because he knows that he is married and still wants to get in an illicit relationship with his student who happens to be half his age.
Do you think the Censor Board would pass the film as 'Haramkhor' sounds very controversial. Also the story seems to be controversial as well.
I am really annoyed when Censor Board tries to play the moral police at times. It takes a lot of pain, tears and sweat to make a movie and when the censor board decides to ban it or go chop chop chop for some scenes, it really disappoints me. Even if the story seems controversial do such incidents not happen in the society.? Have we never heard of teenage girls falling in love with much older men? Why would you want to shut your eyes to these things then. If such incidents are happening in real life, why not show them on the big screen?
What kind of films are you looking forward to work with in the future? Any particular genre?
As an artist I want to explore all types of films and genres. From Masaan to Haramkhor, I have come a long way. Thankfully the kind of scripts that are coming my way are different from each other and the ones I am interested in have no similarities to the roles I have done in the past.
On a lighter -note we would like to know why is your Twitter handle -Batata Vada ?
Well there is a story to it. When I was doing theater workshops, I came across a guy who's email id was dalfry @ xyz.com. I was really fascinated by the uniqueness of his email id and I wanted mine to sound different too. Since my name is pretty common I wasn't able to find an email id which wasn't in use!So then I decided to keep it 'Batata Vada' across all social media platforms. Be it Twitter or Instagram it is 'Batata Vada'. Also it was there before 'Masaan' and now it has become my identity, so I have no inclination to change it all.
Any directors you want to work with?
Vishal Bharadwaj tops the list of the directors that I want to work with. But I don't mind working with Anurag Kashyap or Rajkumar Hirani as well.