Hate being slotted as a 'serious' actor: Shweta Tripathi
Shweta Tripathi on the second season on The Trip, making her Tamil debut with Mehandi Circus, and constantly redefining herself as an actor
Masaan girl Shweta Tripathi has an exciting line-up of films and projects up for release. First up, she’ll be returning as one of the four female leads in second season of Bindaas Original’s The Trip. The series also stars Mallika Dua, Sapna Pabbi and Amyra Dastur. Next, she will be seen in the upcoming crime-saga webseries Mirzapur, which is produced by Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment. Subsequently, Shweta will also be seen in her Tamil debut film Mehandi Circus, in which she plays a circus performer.
In an interview with Cinema Express, the 33-year-old actor got chatty about breaking her mould as an actor, shooting in South India, and keeping her off-screen life real and rooted.
You have been a part of intense and critically-acclaimed films like Masaan and Haraamkhor. The Trip, however, is a very urban and light-hearted road-trip franchise.
Yes. It is very different from the kind of work I do. After seeing me in Masaan and Haraamkhor, everyone thought I was not interested in lighter, more commercial projects. I really wanted to dispel that impression. I don't like being slotted as an actor. I had great fun shooting with the girls in Pondicherry for Trip 2. The experience was as enriching as my so-called ‘serious’ roles. My character, Anjali, is a very urban, fun-loving girl with a lot of interesting complexes. She falls in love and gets married but fails to prioritise herself over the person in her life.
Tell us about your Tamil debut, Mehandi Circus, with writer-turned-director Saravana Rajendhiran.
My character in the film, Mehandi, is a young circus girl who performs dangerous stunts involving knives being thrown at her. We shot the film in Kodaikanal. I watched a lot of Tamil cinema to understand the nuances of the language. I have dubbed for my own character. It was a very exciting and challenging film. My mother-in-law was very scared about the circus stunts (laughs). Thankfully, the director used fake and CGI knives.
When you play such diverse roles in quick succession, don't you feel a little dazed as a human being? Is it easy for actors to switch off from their characters?
I think Shah Rukh Khan once answered this wonderfully. Recalling a funeral he’d been to, he remembered asking himself, ‘Am I really crying? Or am I just performing?’ Every actor experiences moments of emotional blankless from time to time. It is very important for us to not forget who we really are. The characters we play, and to some extent, our public personas, are just a mask. They do not define us as human beings. Personally, I have stopped keeping up appearances in my real life, even at the risk of annoying some people.
You are also doing a film called Sabr, which is about a transgender woman and her journey.
We will begin shooting for Sabr early next year. The director, Faraz Arif Ansari, is a wonderful human being and I really wanted to be a part of this film. It is an emotional, coming-of-age story with a very unique perspective. I was very happy with the Supreme Court verdict scrapping section 377. It was such a massive victory for all of us at a very humane level. We need to start respecting human beings for who they are. These rules make no sense. I recently produced a play called ‘Cock’, which is about a boy who is gay but falls in love with a woman. It explores similar questions of identity and inclusion. I am very happy that change is finally happening.
Besides The Trip 2, which airs on television from October 5, you will be seen the upcoming Amazon Prime Video web-series Mirzapur. How do you feel about the digital explosion of content that is taking over Bollywood?
As an artist, I want to maximize the number of people watching my work. Today, someone sitting in Gorakhpur can stream and watch my films anytime he/she wants. Indian cinema and storytelling is expanding to a world audience because of digital content and streaming platforms. I have traveled to many film festivals and I always feel very proud when an international audience appreciates our work. Art is universal, it should reach out to everyone. The digital explosion is the bridging those gaps. It is the way forward.
Your next feature film release is Gone Kesh, in which you have donned a bald look. What is the film about?
It is about a 15-year-old girl who realises she has ‘alopecia’, a condition where you suddenly start losing your hair. The film is about her coming of age. It's a very lovely and sweet story. I want to keep pushing boundaries with new and exciting roles.
What is the most amazing career advice you have ever received from anyone?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, my co-star in Haraamkhor, once told me… “Waqt lagta hain, par sabka waqt aata hain (It takes time, but everyone’s time comes)”.