After being noticed in small but significant parts in films like Batti Gul Meter Chalu and Baaghi 2, actress Shriyam Bhagnani makes her OTT debut with Season 2 of the popular Disney+ Hotstar original series, City of Dreams. We caught up with her recently for a fun conversation & here are excerpts from the same.
Can you describe your journey that culminated in the field of acting? What were the learnings and the challenges faced?
I think the journey of any artist is generally never easy, because art industries are very unstructured and unorganised unlike the other industries. There is no single course that tells you what needs to be done and there is no one path that is best suited for you, it’s exactly what it is – a journey. As we know, art is subjective. So, to find someone who understands and appreciates your art, is what I think, the biggest quest an actor sets out for, to be able to get employed or to connect with the viewers. Having said that, I’m extremely grateful that Nagesh sir saw the value in my art and deemed me suitable for Tanya’s character and also that Tanya Mehta is now being appreciated by the reviewers and the audience.
Please tell us a bit about City of Dreams? How was it working with Priya Bapat & Ankur Rathee?
City of Dreams is a political thriller brought to you by Applause Social and the second season is now streaming on Disney plus hotstar VIP wherein you’ll find the character I’m playing – Tanya Mehta. The first ever scene we shot for Tanya was with Poornima and am I glad! Priya ma’am is such a lovely and warm soul and so good at her job! I remember, the moment she came on set, I was introduced to her and very sweetly she sat with me and spoke to me and made me feel comfortable even before I’d even gotten into costumes for the day. That’s the kind of a co-actor Priya Bapat is – very warm and secure. I felt this ease of being myself around her even as Tanya.
Most of my scenes were with Ankur, so I did spend a few days shooting with him. Ankur Rathee in a nutshell is an inspiration, honestly. He is always full of energy, always giving his 100% in takes and always making people smile when the shot isn’t rolling. He is so childlike on set, but when you actually sit and talk to him, he speaks like such a learned saint and the moment we have to get in front of the camera, he would switch back into the character. I found this flowing water like quality in him very endearing and inspiring.
In the series you play the character of Tanya Mehta who’s values are completely different than her father. How challenging was the role for you? How did you prepare for the character? And how’s it working with him?
Tanya Mehta’s value don’t match with the man she’s grown up with – Ramnik Mehta, nor with the person she has set out to spend her life with – Arvind Mehta. How challenging was it to portray this? I just needed to know who Tanya was and stay true to the direction that Nagesh sir had given me for the character and I just followed it to the t. I feel the only challenging part was gaining weight for Tanya.
Working with Shishir sir was absolutely amazing. He has been working for the past 52 years as an actor and with that kind of experienced person as a co-actor, I only got to learn a lot of nuances from him. We would sit and chat for hours on set between our shots about the craft and his journey. We still can’t stop talking about our confrontation scene and how we got so emotional filming that sequence.
In the series you develop the app ‘Fearless’ ? Do you want to do something like this in real?
Definitely. In fact, me along with a couple of friends of mine, Aashay Shastri & Chirag Shah, are trying to build a community for artists and professionals who aspire to work in the Indian Film Industry or are already working professionals by the name of Film Club India. We’re trying to make this industry a smaller and more approachable space. On the club, we share our experiences, get guidance from credible personalities and try to educate people as much as we can about our Industry.
What are your upcoming projects in the pipeline? Have you signed up with other OTT platforms other than Hotstar?
Currently, I will not be able to comment on that. But very soon, i will make an announcement of what lies ahead in my work space.