Actor Shreyas opens up about molestation

Shreyas Porus Pardiwalla

Shreyas Porus Pardiwalla had a promising start with ‘Yaariyan’. The film, backed by T-Series, was a commercial success and its songs are played on television till date. He went on to doing 2 more movies with T- Series, Sanam Re and Sweety Weds NRI and was last seen in the web series, Akoori.  Moving back to his first love, the stage he has directed 2 critically and audience applauded plays, Giant and Strangers in the Night. He's acted in the award winning short film 'Ab Mujhe Udna Hai' directed by Sujoy Mukherjee that has gone on to winning 20 awards including the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke award for the best short film. In this interview, he talks about harbouring dreams of becoming an actor since childhood, his short but eventful journey in films, role of theatre in shaping him up as an actor and what lies ahead. 

1.Congratulations on your short film winning the Dadasaheb Phalke award, please tell us a little about the film.
Thank you very much for the wishes. There are many films and narratives based on Rape and Victims of this heinous crime, however seldom are films made on molestation and victims of molestation and what they go through. This short film tackles the dilemmas and trauma faced by the victim of molestation and how she fights the evils of society and ultimately breaks free to reach her goals in life. 

2.Give us a little insight to your character in the film.
I play the brother of the protagonist who falls prey to the molesters. Often stories revolve solely around the victim, however this short film beautifully shows how family members of the victim are also affected. My character is always supportive of his sister and is like a pillar of strength to her. However, after the crime, seeing his sister’s courage and will break- he too crumbles and is majorly affected.
 
3.How was the experience working with Sujoy Mukherjee and such a strong ensemble cast? 
It was a real blessing to work on this film. Sujoy sir is an ace director, throughly skilled and very kind and understanding with his cast and crew. The amount of love and affection he has for his craft is inspirational. He gave me time before each scene to undergo my process and understand the scene thoroughly as he knew it is a sensitive topic and as an actor I will need time to get into the right headspace before I perform.  All my cast members were lovely and it was indeed a delight to work with them. We share abundance of love and respect for each other. 

4.With having played a character that is dealing with the topic of molestation in reel life, what do you take away from that experience in your real life? 
To live a character who is in association with the topic of molestation was indeed difficult. It isn’t easy to live those moments on camera either. All I could take back or want to take back is the acting process I put myself through. As the topic is so sensitive no individual enjoys living or reliving it. However, as an actor the art of switching on and off is what I mastered with this film and that is what I would like to take back. 

5.Tell us a little about your transition from films into the web space, with Akoori, Setting it Right and now Ab Mujhe Udna hai. 
I am originally a theatre actor and director. So transitioning from one medium of acting to another is not new to me. From theatre I moved to films and now I am getting opportunities to showcase my talent with web content. For me the transition is not daunting at all. In fact, the idea of a new medium fascinates me and inspires me to explore it more and give it my best. I tell myself one thing- Shreyas it’s your job to act. Now, whether you act on stage or on camera, whether you act on a big screen or small. You must do your job efficiently and earnestly. 

6.You are an award winning actor on stage but how does it feel to be on the other side with Giant, your directorial debut and now with Strangers in the Night? 
As an actor, you become a tad bit selfish with the craft. You often focus mainly or rather solely on your character. You tell the story via your character. But as a director, you have to drop all selfishness, you have to drop all ego and understand that ‘the whole is greater than the parts’. As a director I get to tell the story not only via one character but via the entire narrative. I get to see and understand the larger picture and all I can say is it’s not easy one bit. It’s been a real task with bitter sweet learnings but overall the experience of being a director has been exhilarating, exciting and undoubtedly a ‘large’ feather in my cap.

7. What can we expect next from Shreyas Porus Pardiwalla?
Throw anything at me and all you can expect is my utmost best! My play Strangers in the Night will be staged by the end of the month and in April. I am also in talks with a few production houses so let’s wait and watch.