Tom & Jerry actress Pallavi Sharda talks about working in the live action animated film
Tom & Jerry is one of the most loved cartoons of all time. This weekend, the much-loved characters are back with Warner Bros Pictures’ live action animated film Tom & Jerry. The comedy, set in New York, follows the iconic cat and mouse, with an integrated narrative about a young woman named Kayla who is trying to make it in the Big Apple.
American actress Chloë Grace Moretz plays Kayla, a hotel employee who is given the responsibility to ensure that a high-profile wedding goes smoothly at the Royal Gate Hotel. A well-known socialite, Ben (played by Colin Jost) and Preeta (played by Pallavi Sharda) are to get married at the ‘wedding of the century.’ However, Jerry, the mouse makes the hotel his new home, and Kayla hires Tom, the cat, to get rid of him. What follows is a crazy chase involving not just Tom and Jerry but everyone else who are part of the wedding.
In our conversation, Pallavi shares how much fun it was shooting the film. “We shot the film in 2019 and 2020 was spent doing post-production. We didn’t have Tom and Jerry around when we were actually shooting. We were acting with puppets and reacting to spaces in the air. It was a unique experience. I have never worked in an animation film before. A lot of our imagination came into play and that’s when the craft really came alive,” says the actress. Pallavi, who is also a trained classical dancer, says the film brought back memories of her childhood and it gave her a chance to use her dancing skills, particularly when it came to being expressive with her animated co-actors. “We all had that element of play and childlike curiosity on the sets. It brought out the Bharatnatyam dancer in me. So much of what I had trained to do was with abhinaya (expressions),” she explains.
Her character Preeta’s wedding is definitely the highlight of the movie. From Kayla and the team in the hotel, to even Tom, who is trying to get rid of Jerry before D-day, the big fat Indian wedding is the most-anticipated part of the film. Most of the animated characters come together for the wedding scenes that basically try and portray the grand celebrations, which may appear to be slightly over-the-top, but Pallavi defends it. “The producers were consulting me to make sure we got it right. It was very important to me as an Indian, and as an actress, that we didn’t overlook small details. Obviously there is an element of disbelief, it’s Tom & Jerry and it’s larger than life. Preeta is wearing an appropriate lehenga with kaleerein (bridal hand accessories) and mehendi. I actually felt it was quite authentic. We NRIs always do it this way, which is a little OTT and a little kitsch,” says the actress, who was raised in Australia.
Having debuted in Bollywood with My Name Is Khan, Pallavi has also worked in many Hollywood productions, so Tom & Jerry is not her first outing in the US. However, in the last few years, she has predominantly worked in the UK, and is currently shooting a Hollywood action film in Queensland, Australia. Speaking about her experience working all over the globe, she says, “American crews are a lot more spirited and entrepreneurial. Indian and Australian crews are a bit more conservative. So you just adapt to different work environments. But the great thing about starting my career in India is that I can adapt to any situation because anything can happen on the sets in India. I remember shooting Beecham House with Gurinder (Chadha) in Rajasthan, and she is so Indian like me. I remember everyone from the UK crew were freaking out when a horse passed by our sets and we were the most calm, and said all this is quite normal. Working on films in India has given me a lot of spirit.” Next, Pallavi is set to start shooting for a Hollywood romcom in March.
Tom & Jerry releases in theatres on February 19, 2021