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Shriya Pilgaonkar on House Arrest: Our film is about the joy of missing out- Cinema express

Shriya Pilgaonkar on House Arrest: Our film is about the joy of missing out 

While the actor talks about her fascination with Japanese culture, the art of cutting off from social media and more, choreographer Karishma talks about working on the Netflix film

Published: 13th November 2019
Shriya Pilgaonkar in House Arrest

The Japanese word hikikomori means ‘pulling inward'. The term is used to refer to a startling population of Japanese youth who avoid social contact and stay indoors. As per estimates, modern Japan has close to 1.15 million hikikomori, loners and shut-ins who haven’t left home for months. In the new Netflix original film House Arrest, Shriya Pilgaonkar plays a journalist researching the phenomenon. She finds a case study closer home: Karan (Ali Fazal), a Delhi resident, hasn’t stepped outdoors for six months. He cooks, cleans, tends his plants and plays video-games all by himself, occasionally beset by guests hammering on his doorbell. Karan’s reasons for his self-imposed seclusion are murky. “I’m better off staying home,” he says in the trailer, “There are some wonderful things you get to learn…”
Shriya says she was drawn to the subject matter due to her personal interest in Japanese culture. “I learned the language as a kid and can have a basic conversation. I also love Japanese food and philosophical ideas like Ikigai and Wabi-Sabi,” she shares. “In House Arrest, my character, Saira, is fascinated by hikikomori. She literally pushes herself into Karan’s house and their relationship evolves from there. Karan is someone who deals with the world by cutting himself off, while Saira does so by over-engaging with it.”
House Arrest is co-directed by Shashanka Ghosh and author Samit Basu. The film was shot in one schedule inside a real house in Delhi. While presented as a comedy, the film comments on modern anxieties and social media culture, notes Shriya. “Today, everyone is oscillating between wanting to engage and wanting to cut off. Our film is about someone who suffers from JOMO (Joy of missing out). As an actor, I try every day to strike a balance between my social media presence and my personal life. The minute I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I step away and seek other means of inspiration, such as travelling.”
Shriya is the daughter of veteran actors Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar. She made her acting debut in the Marathi film, Ekulti Ek. In 2015, she was cast in the French film Un plus une and landed her breakout role opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Fan. Recently, Shriya was seen in the Amazon Prime web-show Mirzapur — also starring Ali — and in Gurinder Chawla’s British series Beecham House. “For me, if I like a story and a character, the medium is secondary. Having said that, I feel the charm of the webspace is something unique. It gives you more scope and is not limited by the ‘hero-heroine’ format. For instance, Mirzapur completely changed the momentum of my career even though I had done a film with Shah Rukh Khan.” 

After House Arrest, Shriya will be seen in Bhangra Paa Le, a romantic musical co-starring Sunny Kaushal, and Rukshar Dhillon. “I am playing a Punjabi girl in the 1940s. I learned to play the dhol for the part. Next year, I am making my Tamil-Telugu debut in Haathi Mere Saathi with Rana Daggubati. There’s also Anubhav Sinha’s film, Abhi Toh Party Suru Hui Hai, which I’m hoping shall release soon.”
House Arrest has two dance tracks — ‘Death Ho Gayi’ and a wedding song. The film is choreographed by Karishma Chavan, whose credits include Khoobsurat, Tumhari Sulu, Veere Di Wedding. “House Arrest as a film is extremely out of the box, so both the songs are behavior-based,” Karishma shares. “For example, Ali’s character is obsessive hence the choreography involves his OCD behavior while dancing. The second one is a wedding in the living room of a house. It’s a mix of quirky behavior and choreography.” 

On working with the cast, Karishma adds, “Ali is a pleasure to work with since he brings life to his characters. When you give him a step, he ingrains the choreography into the nature of the film. I also worked with (actor) Barkha Singh in House Arrest, who is extremely talented and natural with her expressions and spunk.”

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