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Shriya Pilgaonkar on Haathi Mere Saathi co-star Rana Daggubati: I am completely in awe of his hard work

Shriya Pilgaonkar spoke about the theatres vs OTT debate, saying that the actual competition is to produce quality content. Her film Haathi Mere Saathi will be releasing in theatres.

Written by A. Kameshwari | New Delhi |
Updated: March 24, 2021 9:03:08 am
haathi mere saathi shriya pilgaonkarHaathi Mere Saathi marks Shriya Pilgaonkar's first project with Rana Daggubati. (Photo: Shriya Pilgaonkar/Instagram)

Actor Shriya Pilgaonkar is excited about the release of Haathi Mere Saathi, which is a multi-lingual film that addresses the human-animal conflict. The Prabu Solomon film is heading to the theatrrs on March 26. In a conversation with indianexpress.com, the actor opened up on working with Rana Daggubati, shooting for the film in a forest and much more.

Here’s an excerpt of the conversation:

Tell us about your character and what was your takeaway from it?

In Haathi Mere Saathi, I play a news reporter and she is somebody who goes against all odds to walk on the path of truth, to support Rana’s character in his fight for the rights of the elephants.

I think with every character, you end up learning something. Every character leaves a part of itself in you. I believe that as you grow as an actor, your journey or growth as a person is also happening at the same time. It taught me that if you don’t value yourself, no one else is going to. So, I was quite inspired by this character, and of course, Rana’s character in the film.

How was it to work with Rana Daggubati? What was your first impression of him when you saw him as Bandev?

The first time I actually met Rana in person, I couldn’t recognize him. To be able to transform yourself to the extent where people might not even recognize you is such a beautiful thing. I am completely in awe of his hard work and his commitment and passion for cinema and storytelling. The film (Haathi Mere Saathi) is majorly based on him and his bond with animals. Haathi Mere Saathi talks about giving us a sense of the fact that we’re all a part of this world and we need to live together, hand in hand. The film sends the message in an entertaining and engrossing way. I’m proud to be a part of a story like this.

The film was shot in a real jungle, in a no-network zone. Tell us about that experience?

It was amazing to be in a place where there’s no network. It made us present in the moment. We were actually listening, observing, talking to each other, which was so nice. And I think it was also needed for a film like this. We felt the film is our responsibility.

Even when we were shooting, there were a lot of precautions being taken to make sure that we didn’t disturb the wild. We had to be very careful and responsible. It was nice that we were actually shooting in a real location.

This is a multi-lingual film. Was there a special prep from your end?

I had never worked on a multi-lingual film. I had no understanding of other languages. However, I also come from a belief that language cannot be a barrier for an actor. To be honest, in this film, there was not much time for me to prepare because I came on board quite late. But I was very clear that I did not want to speak gibberish. I actually wanted to enjoy speaking the language. Our writers were very helpful. Even the director told me to not to worry or get caught up in the dialogues but just get the emotions right. After working on this film, I know that I’ll be better equipped with such films in the future.

The film will open to different markets too. How does that feel?

Of course, exciting.

You’re an OTT star.

I don’t think labels really apply today because actors are doing everything. I want to continue working for OTT space as well as see myself on the silver screen. Of course, it feels good when someone calls me the OTT star but I guess I don’t want to attach myself with any such tags.

Now when the theatres have opened up, do you think the OTT effect will wash off eventually?

Content can parallelly function, the medium doesn’t matter. For me too, the story comes first and then the platform matters.

Having said that, OTT has given opportunities to writers, actors, critics and so many. It will only grow but with time, the audience will have an understanding of what they want to see. They will understand the difference between good and mediocre content. So, now the actual competition is to produce quality content.

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