Made in Heaven actor Shivani Raghuvanshi is currently enjoying her newfound fame with the Amazon Prime Video series. She has just finished shooting the Honey Trehan directorial Raat Akeli Hai, which also features Radhika Apte and Nawazuddin Siddiqui and is now admittedly and excitedly awaiting a call from a big director to be cast as a true-blue Bollywood heroine. In an exclusive interview with indianexpress.com, Shivani opened up about playing Jazz in the Zoya Akhtar series and how she is dealing with all the attention she has been getting lately.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
How did you come on board for Made in Heaven?
I got a call from the casting director who told me that Zoya Akhtar is considering me for a part in the show. And I was so happy that she had a look at my pictures and liked them. Post the audition, I had an idea that they really liked it. I got a call after 15-20 days that they have okayed it. It was the biggest moment of my life, so I went shopping because I wanted to look good (laughs).
Do you identify with Jazz and her values?
I do. A lot. Basically, I am very aware of my surroundings, unlike Jazz, who is naive in that sense, or she is probably so into herself that she doesn’t care what other people are thinking. She does what she wants to do. And in terms of values and her morality, not just me, I think everybody around me could relate to her. A lot of girls from small towns have messaged me that they could see themselves in Jazz.
However, I don’t think Jazz is trying to fit into the elite crowd of Made in Heaven. She is just trying to make a space for herself. Never does she try to be someone she is not.
How did you prepare for your character? Was there anything specific the directors had asked you to do through the course of the shoot?
I felt her while reading the script. I am not a trained actor, so the moment I understand the place the character is coming from, things fall into place. For Jazz, I just borrowed things from my surrounding.
While Made in Heaven is primarily about the rich and privileged, Jazz’s story goes through a different set of ups and downs since she is economically not as privileged. When you were reading the script, did you have any kind of fear regarding your character, that she might get lost in the crowd of the elite?
I had some apprehensions because in Titli, I played a character from a humble background as well. But that was it. But yes, I was heartbroken upon seeing my costumes because everyone around me was dressed in Sabyasachi and the likes. And then there I was…
Why do you think Jazz has struck a chord with the audience?
She is the most relatable character in the show. A good chunk of our country is not as well-off as the other characters, whereas Jazz’s story is that of the underdog, of dreams and aspirations. Plus in her character, you get to see a complete arc and various shades of her personality. Not everyone can be poised and perfect like Tara all the time.
While the show has mostly received positive feedback, there is also a counter-argument that the series, despite having good intentions, comes off as misogynistic. What do you have to say about that?
Really? I think Made in Heaven is very empowering. Every female character is so strong, be it Jazz or Tara. Maybe the thing about Tara being a gold-digger has evoked a certain reaction. But then Tara is not settling down with the money, she wants to run a business and do work of her own. Plus, there are people like Tara who exist in the real world. The moral compass of other characters are a bit skewed because in their case, the stakes are higher. They will lose money and reputation if things go a little off for them. The show is not saying that the questionable things these characters do are right, but then these things do happen.
Who is your favourite character from the show?
Karan and Faisa are my favourite. In fact, I would have loved to play Karan. Whereas Faisa, I find very sensitive. She is going through so much and she doesn’t know what she is doing. I think we have all been there.
Since the show’s all over the internet now, has stepping outside been difficult without getting recognised?
I am not used to this kind of recognition. Recently, I went to a mall and people were talking about me and walking up to me. And I had been waiting for this moment all my life, but I got nervous when it actually happened. In fact, I ended up calling Nitya Mehra (one of the directors of the show) and asked her about this situation. She basically told me to get used to all this.
Made in Heaven is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.