Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

Making her debut in the year 2009 with Wake Up Sid, Shikha Talsania has been consistently working in theatre and Bollywood. But, since Veere Di Wedding, she has burst onto the acting and film scene. In this candid conversation, Shikha talks about her overwhelming experience in Bollywood, her relationship with her body, and her future ventures. Edited excerpts from the interview: 

Your father, Tiku Talsania is a well-known actor who has worked in films and television. Did he inspire you to become an actor?

When you are a child, you always want to have the profession your parents have. It took a lot of existential anxiety to figure out that acting was what I was passionate about and really enjoyed. I did have the question in my mind about whether I was doing this just because that’s the environment I had grown up in. But, yes, seeing my parents come alive when on stage attracted me to this industry.

Veere Di Wedding was your first major film. How did you land the role?

The reason behind me landing the role is Rhea Kapoor, producer of the film. She was looking for someone for Meera’s part, and Karan Boolani suggested me to be tested for that part. I was called for the screen test and that’s how it happened. Previously, the three of us worked on Wake Up Sid together, which was my first film. 

Tell us about your experience working with Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, and Swara Bhaskar. 

It was an absolute joy. We got along like a house on fire from the start. I would need three pages to explain how much I’ve learned from each of them. They were very warm and welcomed me with open arms. They are really wonderful people to work with. 

Being a part of the film industry, you must have had your fair share of struggle. What has showbiz taught you, which you will never forget?

Yes, I did and it’s still not over. There are newer struggles every day. What I learnt was to be resilient, keep working for what you believe in and have fun while you’re at it. It’s never going to be smooth sailing and I am prepared for that. 

Out of all the films that you’ve been in, what has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?

For me, every acting opportunity is an achievement. I work very hard to keep reaching higher echelons.

Do you believe that plus-size actors also have a similar possibility for landing lead roles as that of other onscreen actors nowadays? Do you think the stereotype is changing? 

Konstantin Stanislavski once said that there are no small parts, just small actors. Yes, the atmosphere is changing. Slowly, but surely. Look at the multitude of stories around us. It’s an exciting time to be a creator. I think people are becoming more aware and I absolutely do think that there is a change. 

The micro-blogging world is, perhaps, adding to body-shaming women and constantly mocking them. What are your tips for cherishing who you are? Anything you’d like to say to the women out there who are struggling with similar issues.

I think women are way more aware and know exactly what social media does. All shapes and sizes get mocked. It’s the beast that we have created. To all the women out there who are struggling with similar issues, I would like to say, just ignore it. Or else, do what I do occasionally. Send love back with a hint of sarcasm.

After the success of your last film, tell us something about what you are working on now.

After Veere Di Wedding, there are few things that I am working on. I recently co-directed my first play. And, then a fun web series for one of the leading portals is also on its way. 

What for you is the best thing about your profession? 

The thing that I like the most about my profession is that it gives me the freedom to portray myself differently in every role. It also gives me an opportunity to travel to beautiful locations. Also, I get to meet different collaborators who challenge me by venturing into something new. 

If you wouldn’t be an actor today, what else would you have done?

I don’t know.  I might have continued my behind-the-scenes career in television as a producer. Or maybe a full-time doodler. So many possibilities.

Tell us that one secret about you that no one knows.

Tell me one of your first. It’s got to be a fair deal. 

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja is a feature writer at L'Officiel India. She is a silver jewellery hoarder and an aesthete of all arts. You can find her unraveling new stories day in and day out.