Interview: Shreya Chaudhry on a battle of gharanas, and facing up to veteran actors in Bandish Bandits
Mumbai (PTI): Actor Shreya Chaudhry says she is "overwhelmed and yet at peace" with the response to her digital debut series Bandish Bandits and hopes to continue on her quest for good work with humility.
Created by Amritpal Singh Bindra and Anand Tiwari, the ten-part Amazon Prime Video series follows the story of two lovers from different musical backgrounds.
As a young, struggling pop singer Tamanna Sharma, Shreya received acclaim for her performance in the series, co-starring Ritwik Bhowmik, Naseeruddin Shah and Atul Kulkarni.
In an interview, Shreya said while she is aware it's an extremely competitive industry, going forward her only concern is the quality of the work she is offered.
"You can feel that insecurity in any profession where you wonder about your growth. It's tricky for an actor because there's no way to wait.
"I don't think I can say 'Oh I want to do something as big' because at a script level there's only so much I understand. I knew the names that were involved with this project but never thought the show would be scaled this way.
Maybe with time I'll get a better understanding but right now my insecurities lay in just getting good work and being excited to work," she added.
For Shreya, one of the biggest takeaways from Bandish Bandits was the experience of observing industry veterans perform on set.
The actor, born and brought up in Mumbai, said it was inspiring to see Shah, Kulkarni and Tiwari's dedication to their craft even after so many years in the industry.
"It's my biggest dream come true to be able to do what I love - to act. I hope that's never snatched away from me because of any reason, a bad script or because I start thinking too much about its commerce part.
"I really hope I continue feeling this new. Naseer sir, Atul sir and Anand have set that example for me. They work like it's their first project. I hope to do the same," she added.
Though the series starts out charting the love story of Tamanna and Radhe (Ritwick), it eventually morphs into a family drama with the backdrop of a battle between two gharanas of Indian classical music.
It's in these moments where Shreya's character comes face-to-face with the larger ensemble of the show.
The actor said working with the stalwarts, including Sheeba Chaddha and Rajesh Tailang, initially made her jittery, but the nervousness gave way to wonderment when the crew went on set.
"When I was signed and told what the cast is going to be, there was a sense of achievement that people who have seen me perform till now, will now see me act with them.
All of them were warm, welcoming. "Nervousness kicked in because they work so hard. Their sense of dedication, sincerity was remarkable to watch.
Their energy was infectious and I don't think they realise how much that helped me in my performance," she said.
Shreya said though she always aspired to act, her journey started "by chance" as a model after she finished her graduation.
Modelling got her TV commercials and eventually, she found her way to films, with her feature debut in 2017's Dear Maya, headlined by Manisha Koirala.
The actor said all her appearances, including filmmaker Imtiaz Ali's 2018 short The Other Way, helped her gain the confidence to deliver her performance as one of the leads on Bandish Bandits.
"What makes me the happiest is the impact the show has had. The audience's response, the comments we have been receiving, it feels surreal. It has also made me at ease."
Shreya said her headspace currently is of "good nervousness" about what future projects have to offer.
"The day I stop feeling this for my performances, that's the day I probably will be disconnected with my work because I wouldn't probably care about it enough," she added.