Pallavi makes down under proud!

Pallavi Sharda

By Neeru Saluja – TIDU reporter interviewed Pallavi – our down under Bollywood girl from Melbourne as she beat to the top for the coveted role  against Bollywood heart throb Ranbir Kapoor for the movie ‘Besharam’.  

Pallavi has made us proud once again. The Indian Down Under team has been following her dream pursuits since she came into limelight as Miss India Australia. But this time Pallavi Sharda has won a double whammy ”“ an Australian debut with ”˜Save your Legs’ and the leading lady opposite the latest heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor in Besharam.

For those who don’t know her, Pallavi is trained in Bharatnatyam for over 15 years and was crowned the Miss India Australia in 2010. Once she shifted her base from Melbourne to Mumbai in 2008, she acted in several movies including My Name is Khan, Dus Tola, Love, Breakups Zindagi, Heroine and the New York based drama Walkaway. Within a span of a few years, she has dabbled in all kind of cinema ”“ contemporary, modern, crossover and commercial.

We got a chance to talk to Pallavi close to the release of her upcoming film ”˜Save your Legs’ and just before she had to commence shooting for Besharam.

You are recently in the news for bagging the lead role opposite Ranbir in ”˜Besharam’. So who is the besharam in this film?

(Laughs) I’m playing the role of a typical Delhi girl in ”˜Besharam’ where I play the lead role opposite Ranbir Kapoor. We have just started shooting and it’s fun – Ranbir is a thorough gentleman and professional. And before you ask again, we both are ”˜besharam’. I was pretty ”˜besharam’ when I left Melbourne to be part of a law firm so it is quite fitting. I’ll be besharam for now!

From Melbourne to Mumbai, how would you define your journey?

“I went door knocking when I came to India. I was always a performing artist, taking my hobby to a professional life. I grabbed the small chances, even if it was a play or small cameo in ”˜My Name is Khan’. I had to gain experience, that’s what differentiates me from other actresses, I had whale of an experience. Besharam is technically my seventh film. I tried to be patient, this will be my first full-fledged film.

You have entered the mainstream Australian cinema with your soon to be released film ”˜Save your Legs’, a story of a man who refuses to lose his cricket team to the realities of growing up. After establishing yourself as an actress in Bollywood, how was it returning to your Australian roots?

“”˜Save your Legs’ is first of its kind film. Shot in Australia and India, I’m very proud to be the lead actress in it. Australian productions are chasing Indian talent. I want to create a space for Indian arts in mainstream audience. This is the way forward, this is what I wrote about in my media degree.”

“The experience was incredible. I became a boy after the end of the film. I found a family amongst the crew. I was in India but felt as if I was in Australia. With them I was breathing home, I could talk to the boys in an Aussie accent. By the end of the day I’m an Australian.”

Do you relate yourself to your character Anjali from the film ”“ an Indian girl who embraces western culture?

“Of course I relate to Anjali. The way the director described the character, I felt as if he took inspiration from my own story. Anjali came from Melbourne to Mumbai. She spends her primary years there, then she left Australia in her 20’s. I left home when I was 21 to discover India. Anjali wanted a bit of adventure.”

Being brought up in Australia, how did you find it fitting into Bollywood?

“It was tough to be honest. Bollywood is a closed place, if you come from outside it’s tough to find a foot in. I come from an academic family where my parents were professors in India. Coming from such a background brings it’s own cultural boundaries. Being brought up in Australia gave me my independence so I’m an independent thinker. To be my own person was a challenge in itself. The role I did now I thought it should have come two years ago.”

Would you consider Melbourne a stepping stone for your venture in Mumbai. Does the city offer enough of opportunities for upcoming talents?

“I think Melbourne brings the perfect environment for an artist. I learnt music, bharat natyam, all of those basic points in Melbourne. If you want to go to Bollywood or Hollywood that’s an individual choice. In Australia you can find the best of arts. You can explore what you love. You can be many things at once.”

You are not one of those actresses who just look pretty and can’t speak Hindi. You speak authentic Hindi ”“ how do you manage with an Aussie accent?

“I switch accents. If I tell them I’m  Australian, they won’t even believe it. I knew I had to be an actress since I was three years old. I learnt it from childhood. I have a real understanding of my culture as my parents are very rooted in the culture. I used to teach Indian dance and still had many Aussie friends. If you can identify with both cultures – that’s the key thing.

Very few people know that you started your career in a small role in ”˜My name is Khan’. How was it working with Shahrukh and even Manoj Bajpai in your film ”˜Dus Tola’.

“It was very nice to have Shahrukh Khan for your first scene. But I didn’t have much time on sets as it was a cameo film. It was the flavour of Bollywood for me. Manoj was absolutely amazing. As a newcomer it was daunting, but he was quite warm. As our first scene was quite intimate, I was freaking out. So he sat me down and started talking about Australia. You won’t believe he wouldn’t drink tea till I had my tea! He calls me ”˜gambir’. I can turn to him for advice whenever I want.

You were also the lead actress of the international musical Taj Express. What do you love the most ”“ acting or dancing?

“Taj express was the best medium for me as it had theatre, acting, singing. I love being on the stage, it’s the medium I grew up on. It gave me a taste of theatre of life ”“ Taj Express did Singapore and Mumbai tour.”

Who do you consider as your role model?

“My parents, specially my mother. They came out of their comfort zone when they migrated from India to Australia. They really succeeded in their work and home lives, and now I have done the same, but reversed it. As my mum went searching in Perth for a basic ingredient like garam masala, I wanted to find things for myself when I landed in Mumbai. My parents have been inspirational and they have supported me since I was a kid.”

How would you like to make Australian-Indian ties stronger as a cultural ambassador?

“In October, I was nominated as the Oz Fest Ambassador in India. This is an indication about my dual heritage. I really supported this cultural festival which comprised of arts, sports, entertainment. It was a proud moment for me as it’s symbolic.”

Any message to your fans and friends based here?

“I feel close to the Indian community in Melbourne. I love to meet my aunties and uncles who would encourage me to dance and asked me to go to Bollywood. I want to make them proud when they go to Hoyts Cinema to watch my movie. Continue to love me and always be there to support me.

How would you describe Pallavi ”“ an Aussie girl or an aamchi Mumbai girl?

“I’m just an Aussie girl living in Mumbai. I love to cook, love to drive my own car and get rid of the driver! People get shocked by me sometimes but it’s nice to be different. It’s nice to know you have support on your upbringing. I like to be independent. I’m still an outsider in India, I’m very grateful for my upbringing.”

What do you have planned for yourself in the future?

“My next collaboration will be a  dance collaboration with Australian musicians. I would like to be a producer of Indian arts in Australia. That’s how I would like to give back whatever Australia has given me.”


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