Shriya Pilgaonkar Interview: Women in Amazon Prime Video’s Mirzapur aren’t portrayed as passive characters

Actress Shriya Pilgaonkar, the daughter of accomplished actors Sachin Pilgaonkar and Supriya Pilgaonkar, is working diligently to create her own mark in showbiz. Last seen in Yash Raj Films’ 2016 release Fan, co-starring superstar Shah Rukh Khan, the actress is now gearing up for the premiere of her Amazon Prime Video Original Mirzapur, wherein she plays a strong headed girl called Sweety Gupta. Also featuring a diverse cast of actors including Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey, among others, the digital series has been the talk of the town ever since the makers revealed its posters and teaser a couple of days before.

Recently, our Mumbai correspondent, Mohnish Singh, sat down with Shriya for a candid conversation. In this interview with Eastern Eye, the promising actress talks in length about her character in Mirzapur, how streaming media giants like Amazon Prime Video help actors reach a wider set of audience and why she would like to focus more on films than television. Excerpts…

Shriya, brief us about your character in Amazon Prime Video Original Mirzapur.

In Mirzapur, I play the character of Sweety Gupta a.k.a Swarangini Gupta. She is the daughter of a cop, who falls in love with the right guy who chooses the wrong path. It’s a very, very interesting character simply because it’s not at all stereotypical.

Sweety is a fearless girl. No one can intimidate her, not even the man she is in love with. It’s a very non-judgmental character, I would say. She has a sister and both are diametrically opposite from each other. People around her are different. She is a very strong headed girl. She can be very stubborn at times. She embraces the challenges that she faces and the way she deals with them is very special. Most importantly, all women in Mirzapur are not portrayed as passive characters. We all in our own way contribute to the plot even if the screen time might not be as much as the men have. Every one of us women is in touch with our sexual desires, we are opinionated and we add very refreshing elements to the series.

Do you think that when actors star in a web-series which boasts of huge mass appeal, it somewhere helps them boost their stardom and get more media attention?

Because my parents also belong to the industry, media attention has never been an alien thing for me. I would also like to say that media attention is not equal to success. Having said that, for some people, the whole world is too new and they feel like they have arrived. But for me, media attention was something I knew would come along if I do good work. But handling that success is something that is not everybody’s cup of tea. How do you remain true to yourself when you are put in a situation like that is something not everyone knows. And though I also did a Marathi film, a French film and a Hindi film called Fan (2016) and my other work will now come out this year and next year, I would say my journey has been slow and steady and that now the speed is gaining momentum.

When you work on a digital platform, your relatability factor enhances. I don’t take up digital projects because it will fetch more followers to my Instagram. But if as an actor, I like something, I will do it. I choose my project irrespective of the medium they will premiere on. Things like stardom are not in your hands, so I never try to focus much on that because you never know when things start changing suddenly.

Do you feel things would have been a little different for you had your debut film Fan with Shah Rukh Khan worked well at the box-office?

I definitely feel that though my work was appreciated in the movie, its success would have made much of a difference because today even if you are a small part of a successful film than a big role in an unsuccessful movie, people see your marketability in a different way. It’s not just acting today; marketability plays a major role in your career. Before a film releases, the stars are created and we see that happen so often these days. Everyone’s journey is different, but yes things would have been different if Fans had worked back then. Having said that, I am happy where I am and with what is there in the store.

There are many actors who are okay with working on digital platforms, but the same people are reluctant to work on television. What do you think is the reason?

Time commitment, I would say, because a lot of shows last for years and years. Secondly, I think is content. My mother still does television, but she makes sure she picks up shows that are really good. Most of the shows on television cater to certain formal that works wonders and the fandom that you see on television is crazy. The only reason why I am not drawn to television is because nothing has come my way that I like and plus my focus is films right now. I am open to digital content because you shoot it within a certain timeframe.

But the makers have announced the second season of Mirzapur?

But it’s not going to take my entire year as opposed to television.

Do you think that since everything is available online, television is dying a slow death in India?

No, it cannot happen. It can never happen because we do have a lot of the audience which still watches television.

Produced by Excel Entertainment, Mirzapur premieres on 16th November only on Amazon Prime Video.