The stage actress discusses hit play ‘Patel’s Millions’, her character, working with popular lead star Parle Patel, being on stage and inspirations
By: Mita Mistry
New theatre play Patel’s Millions has been delighting audiences since commencing a UK tour. The comedy-drama about a struggling shopkeeper becoming rich beyond his wildest dreams and facing problems has a talented cast that includes actress Sheetal Pandya.
She follows up winning performances on Indian TV, by playing a Goddess in her second UK stage production. Eastern Eye caught up with the talented actress to discuss hit play Patel’s Millions, her character, working with popular lead star Parle Patel, being on stage and inspirations.
How did you feel being cast in the play Patel’s Millions?
I was truly excited. I’ve been watching Parle’s social media content ever since I was living in Mumbai. When I moved to UK, I really wanted to collaborate with him because what he does with Gujarati comedy is so fabulous, funny, and relatable.
Tell us about the character you play?
I play Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune. Interestingly, I’ve been third time lucky with Patel’s Millions to play a goddess. I had similar opportunities twice before in my Indian TV shows Udaan on Colors TV and Tu Sooraj Main Saanjh Piyaji (Star Plus). So clearly, I’m a blessed soul. I think playing such beautiful roles is in my destiny.
What was the biggest challenge of playing this role?
I love how poised, calm, composed and graceful Lakshmi Devi is. I had to constantly remember that she’s a goddess, so had to keep a check on my facial expressions. I’m very expressive, so that was something I had to work on. I had to be extremely careful of my mannerisms, speech, posture, softness, and voice on stage. Lakshmi Devi is respected beyond measure, so I had to keep that respect and grace intact.
What is it like being a part of a production with such a talented cast?
Honestly, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I have substantial work equity in India, but only just started my career in UK. I’m still adjusting to how things work here. Everyone in the team has been extremely supportive, loving, and caring. Everything from rehearsals to the shows has been absolutely fun.
What is your favourite moment in the play?
I have quite a few. If I had to pick, then the scene between Lakshmi Devi, Patel and Pooja is my favourite. I also love the scene when the teenager walks into Patel’s store. Sarjan Hira plays the teenager and is so fabulous. Him and Parle have crackling chemistry in that scene.
What is Parle Patel like to work with?
Parle is such a creative mind. I don’t think he ever stops thinking about his character. He’s so passionate about acting, creating and storytelling that his passion comes across on stage. He’s a true artist and creates magic with everything he does. He’s been so supportive of the entire cast, and an absolute delight to collaborate with. I look forward to working with him more.
How much has the positive reaction meant to the team?
The ultimate goal is to make audiences happy. As actors our only job is to make people feel like they made the right choice by coming to watch the show, and it’s very satisfying to see that they enjoyed themselves.
How do you feel before going on stage?
I was four years old when I went on stage for the first time. I vividly remember being nervous, but very excited. I still get nervous before getting on stage. I believe some level of nervous energy always works in my favour – being nervous means you care. I have a ritual of taking blessings of the stage and saying a small prayer before every show, which really helps me psychologically.
What is a great theatre play you loved watching as an audience?
A few years ago, I watched a Gujarati play called Natak Na Natak Nu Natak in Mumbai, which was an adaptation of A Play That Goes Wrong. It was hilarious and extremely well performed.
What inspires you as an actor?
Getting a fantastic opportunity to be so many different people in one lifetime is so inspiring. I am so grateful to do a job that touches so many lives and always wanted to do this my whole life. Acting is meditative and spiritual for me. I want to be an actress forever.
Finally, why should we come and watch Patel’s Millions?
Patel’s Millions is a hilarious story with a very important message. It takes you on a beautiful ride filled with songs, dances, drama, emotions, and family values. We promise you a very good time and lots of laughter. The show will keep you entertained, make you emotional and leave you with a huge smile on your face.
Visit www.patelsmillions.co.uk for further tour dates