'If you are playing someone whom Shah Rukh loves in the film, that's enough for me!'
'I am obviously not his phone texting buddy, but I'd like to believe we are friends!'
It has been two years since she made her Bollywood debut with Fan, opposite Shah Rukh Khan, and Shriya Pilgaonkar seems to have found her feet.
The 29-year-old actress has been busy dabbling in various projects which are slowly inching towards their release dates.
Shriya has been on the move -- her work has been taking her to Lucknow, Mussoorie, Varanasi and London -- and she is enjoying every bit of it.
She has just got off a plane before she settles down for a chat over the phone.
Shriya tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com, "A lot of actresses are scared into thinking that they have a shorter life span and they make decisions based on that. But I think of my career as something that I will do for as long as I live. So when I have that vision, it doesn't scare me if I don't sign something ( a film)."
How much did Fan help your career?
Fan, compared to other Shah Rukh films, wasn't considered big box office-wise but it was such a unique film in its own way that it helped me in terms of experience.
Even though I had a smaller part in the film, my performance was appreciated.
As long as I was pointed out to be a good actor, that'/s important.
And if you are playing someone whom Shah Rukh loves in the film, that's enough for me!
How many offers did you get after Fan?
I did get offers, but it takes time.
I didn't get to do much in the film, right?
I did not connect to the scripts I got, and I felt I should be patient.
There were some projects that I was very close to doing, but they did not work out.
I am not impatient.
I don't look at my career as a five-year career.
A lot of actresses are scared into thinking that they have a shorter life span, and they make decisions based on that.
But I think of my career as something that I will do for as long as I live.
So when I have that vision, it doesn't scare me if I don't sign something.
What have you been doing?
I've been doing a lot of theatre, short films and commercials.
I shot for a Web series, Mirzapur. It will release in November.
It is a gangster drama, and I am cast opposite Ali Fazal.
Then, there is Anubhav Sinha's Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, starring Richa Chadha and Vinay Pathak.
There is a thriller Web series, 13, Mussoorie.
Then, there is a television series, Becham House, directed by Gurinder Chaddha. We just finished our London schedule. It will release next year.
What is Becham House about?
It is a period drama set on the cusp of the 19th century.
I play a character named Chanchal. She is really adventurous and ambitious, who is torn between wanting to see the world and the responsibilities she has towards John Becham.
Gurinder is fantastic. It is a dream project for her, and I can see that.
Everyone on the set is so passionate about their work.
We started the India schedule in Rajasthan.
This is my first full-fledged international project.
I believe in constantly working, but I don't believe in taking up work just for the sake of it, just to tell people that I am working.
It is very important to be sure of what you are doing.
What is Abhi Toh Party Shuro Hui Hai about?
I started reading the script at 2 am and I thought I'll read a page and then continue the next day.
But I just couldn't put the script down!
I was laughing so loudly, my mother, who was in the next room, had to come in and check on what was happening.
I have never had that experience reading a script.
I play a journalist in the film.
It is a political satire; we shot it in Lucknow.
Your work really takes your places.
Yes, one was in Lucknow, the thriller was in Mussoorie, Becham House was in London, Mirzapur was in Varanasi... it is exciting to be in the places where our stories are based.
I am very passionate about travelling.
My dream is that my work takes me places!
I hope the work I am doing brings more opportunities.
What challenges do you face as a young actress?
You need to develop emotional intelligence to be an actor.
More than IQ, you need EQ!
There is so much public scrutiny, you are really putting yourself out there for all kinds of comments.
Somewhere, you have to be very strong and not take things personally.
If you take every rejection personally, you are going to crumble.
The way you need to approach work is very important.
I see many people around me who end up unhappy. But what's the point of that? Don't we work for happiness?
It is very easy to spiral down because you want more work and there is a certain ladder you have to climb.
Because of the way I am brought up, and the conversations I've had with my parents, I don't feel entitled.
I don't feel I have to have this.
I feel I have to work hard towards it.
That's how I keep myself in a good state of mind.
Have you faced any #MeToo moments?
No. But I know a lot of friends who have had various experiences like that.
People talking out today are encouraging others to speak out.
The atmosphere is such that people are inspired by the #MeToo movement and are not so hesitant to be vocal.
At the same there, because of victim shaming, people don't speak out.
Still, there is so much conversation about this now.
Social media is a boon and a bane, as we all know.
But the positive side is that people can speak out and see where they are getting support from.
Your parents Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar are industry veterans. Has that helped?
Because of them, I have a certain understanding of the industry.
It is not like I grew up going to parties. We were a normal household; it is not like we had a filmi environment.
I haven't had a filmi childhood.
The way you are with people, and the way you treat the people you work with, the juniors and the seniors, is important. That's what I have really learnt from my parents.
Many a times you are full of self doubt and you are unsure and scared.
In those moments, my parents have been there to remind me that nothing really is permanent.
Success and failure are not permanent. Everyone has their own time.
You need to enjoy things for what it is.
That's why when I do a project I don't put too much pressure on myself.
With actors, it is very easy to put pressure.
Because of their experience, I have an overview of things and that's why I don't act out of fear or desperation.
Coming back to Fan, are you still in touch with Shah Rukh Khan?
You can't be in touch with Shah Rukh, he has a thousand things to do!
But every time I've met him at an event or social gathering, he is so warm.
He will always ask about my parents.
I am obviously not his phone texting buddy, but I'd like to believe we are friends!