Shweta Tripathi is upbeat these days and for good reason. The Masaan girl, who made her Tamil debut with Mehandi Circus recently, says one has to be open to doing any role as long as the story is strong. The actor hasn’t limited herself to Bollywood, she adds. “I am equally happy to be a part of regional cinema and web series. As a performer, I am not terrified to explore a language unknown,” she smiles.
Shweta tells indianexpress.com how she bagged her Tamil debut, Mehandi Circus. “I was approached for this film because the makers had watched Masaan. Filmmaker Saravana Rajendran didn’t know Hindi or English, like how I am unfamiliar with Tamil. Even then I wanted to go ahead with the project as I fell in love with my character. It was a gut feeling. Also, Raju Murugan was one of the main reasons why I came on board. I have watched Cuckoo and Joker. They were brilliant.”
Though Rangaraj is the male lead of Mehandi Circus, Shweta Tripathi says her character drives the story forward. “The fact that I chose Mehandi Circus is that I am settling for nothing but the best. I will continue to pick roles that are strong irrespective of their language. I might not be the ‘hero’ but if you take my character out of the story, it won’t be the same. I like to shoulder such films,” notes Shweta.
Playing a ‘circus girl’ wasn’t easy, she admits. “Knives were thrown towards me and they had sharp edges. Though they were made of cardboard, it felt like the real ones. My director was extremely particular that I don’t blink or duck but keep myself poised throughout,” Shweta grins.
About her acting process, Shweta Tripathi says she does two things: “First, I observe and absorb. Second, I try to react or respond rather than act. Whenever I read the script, I know which layer I want to focus on to make it credible to the audience. The challenge lies in transitioning smoothly between these layers. To pull off my role (Mehandi), I had to meet several young circus performers, who taught body language, all of that. I had whale of a time shooting in Kodaikanal,” she adds.
Shweta doesn’t want to get slogged into labels. “I want to take up roles that excite me. I don’t care whether it’s commercial or an arthouse cinema. For example, there is a scene in Mehandi Circus: The hero has trouble starting his bike. I pass by him and get his vehicle to start. That scene has no dialogue but is beautiful. Such roles are a rarity for any heroine,” she says.
Without knowing Tamil, Shweta Tripathi has dubbed for her character in Mehandi Circus. “I like to keep it that way. Recently, someone had dubbed for me in a commercial and I wasn’t happy about it. For this one, I made sure I got trained in basic Tamil and found a teacher in Bombay. Eventually, I travelled to Chennai for a week for a workshop. It is nice to learn the language because once you know it, you can emote better understanding the expressions. Mehandi wasn’t a Tamil ponnu. She is from the north. So, I was kind of chilled out. Also, I record whatever my ADs say. I would listen to them for modulation and intonation. Moreover, language should never stop actors from choosing films they like,” she elaborates.
Does Shweta watch Tamil films? “I am a huge fan of Mani Ratnam. In fact, I grew up watching Anjali, Bombay and Roja. I would love to work with him someday,” she gushes, quickly adding since she signed Mehandi Circus, she caught Kaala, Sarkar and Nadigaiyar Thilagam, which helped her learn Tamil.
Shweta Tripathi is full of praise for her director, Saravana Rajendran and co-star, Rangaraj. “Any filmmaker drives the set’s energy. Rajendran is a positive person. And, as for Rangaraj, he is an amazing cook. I never knew he is a renowned caterer. He made biryani on the sets and served it to all of us,” she smiles.
What’s next? “Especially, after doing quality content including Gone Kesh, Mirzapur and Haraamkhor, I am more confident about my acting skills. My latest series on Amazon Prime, Laakhon Mein Ek is a huge success. But I want to take up more challenging roles in Tamil cinema. Kollywood technicians are extremely passionate about what they do and worship their work. I like to associate myself with such talent. Offers have been pouring in, but I am taking it quite slow,” she signs off.