In an exclusive interview with G20, Shreya Dhanwanthary shares her experience of working with big names for the small screen and how OTT platforms are opening up a world of myriad opportunities.
“I am like an excited little child on set, working with such amazing people that I still can’t believe it,” says Shreya Dhanwanthary, who has recently made the headlines with her performances in the web series, The Family Man and Scam 1992. She is going to be seen next in Nikhil Advani’s Mumbai Diaries with Konkona Sen Sharma and the second season of The Family Man.
Speaking about her experience of working with such big names in the industry, she gushes, “I am honestly so excited to be working with them. Manoj Bajpayee is a legend – Bhikhu Mhatre (Bajpayee’s character in the 1998 film Satya) is someone I have grown up with. So, when I got to work with him, I freaked out. I still do. And with Konkona, I’m just mesmerised each time to see her work.”
Her most recent stint in Scam 1992 as Sucheta Dalal, an eminent business journalist who helped in exposing Harshad Mehta, is also winning praises on social media and beyond. “I had to do due diligence and research to do justice to her role,” shares Shreya. “And the reason Scam 1992 was so important to me was because I had wanted to work with Hansal Mehta. I have been a huge fan of his work, and he gives you so much respect and puts so much faith in you, that you want to do a good job,” she adds.
Shreya has not only acted in web series but also gone ahead and written as well as directed one – all in the middle of the 2020 lockdown. “It happened over a conversation with Raj and DK (creators of The Family Man). It is something I had always wanted to do and now it’s streaming on Eros Now!” she says. The show, titled A Viral Wedding, revolves around the hot topic of a virtual wedding and the challenges which come with organising one.
This year saw not only a rise in OTT platforms and digital content but also a significant number of people who made their acting debuts on these platforms. With more well-known filmmakers and senior actors dipping their toes in the sea of online content, can OTT platforms be considered as a stepping stone to Bollywood? Shreya does not think so. “An opportunity is an opportunity. And all that web series are doing is creating opportunities for people, including a lot of non-actors and technicians, to hone their skills and showcase them,” she says.
As someone fairly familiar with the realm of OTT platforms, does she see any differences between acting for the big screen and the small screen? “Honestly, no,” says Shreya, “Acting projects are no different whether it is for a film or a show. The only difference might be in schedules and the number of days required. There are no differences in terms of performance.
Interestingly, Shreya, who made her Bollywood debut with Emraan Hashmi in Why Cheat India, stumbled into showbiz during her years in engineering college. “I had been trained in dance, drama, and music since I was in school but it had never occurred to me to take it up professionally. It was in college, when the director (of her debut film, Sneha Geetham), who was an alumnus of the college, threw open a state-wide hunt for actors, that I applied and got through,” she shares.
So, as an actress, what are her priorities and preferences while choosing projects? Shreya says that a good script is the most important. “Honestly, I should be able to visualise what is happening while reading it. Whatever I work in should grip me as an audience too,” she says.
Besides the projects lined up in the future, are there ones she wishes she were a part of, directors and actors she dreams of working with? “There are, but I think if I say them out loud, I’ll end up jinxing it,” she admits.