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Shrestha Banerjee

– By Farhad Dalal

In the Post Covid era, it is the OTT platforms that are booming due to which some fresh faces with a bundle of talent are getting discovered. One of them is Srestha Banerjee who was recently seen in the Netflix series Decoupled. In an Exclusive Interview with Farhad Dalal from Popcorn Reviewss, she talks about her budding career, how the acting bug bit her and how the onset of OTT has helped artists like her.

1. Let us start from the very beginning. How did the acting bug hit you?

Honestly, I wanted to be an actor since childhood, but I was absolutely clueless about the definitive path to enter the industry and flourish seamlessly because of the utmost disciplinarian approach of my parents, especially my Mother, who is an educationist. Hence, I continued taking part in all cultural activities, plays, debates and discussions across school and college days and simultaneously pursuing the noble profession of being an academician. But, the thankless nature of corporate institutions towards my craft and creativity fuelled my mind immensely and I decided to pursue acting on-screen as a parallel career. I finally got the opportunity via a social media tag that a few of my friends recommended me for some media and production houses over social media, from whenceforth, I got a call for an audition regarding a newly opened production house in Delhi producing motivational videos. This was way back in 2017 and ever since then, there has been no looking back!

2. As an actor who is your inspiration? Anyone in particular that has had an influence in the work which you do?

Well, with the advent of OTT platforms and cross-cultural shows and sitcoms etc., it has become extremely difficult to get fixated with individual names, with respect to the calibre that actors across the world possess! But yes, if I had to look up to someone, it would definitely be Sir Anthony Hopkins and the likes of Kate Winslet & Leonardo Di Caprio. I love the amount of stillness and insane levels of maturity these two legendary actors possess. What makes me in awe even more is their levels of humility and the awareness that they have regarding what they do. Can you believe it? Kate Winslet to this date believes that she STILL has a long way to go!! In an era of 15 seconds fame via reels and Tik Tok, these are the kind of people, I’d say who are here to ensure that their names are etched along the pages of History.

3. What would be your dream role? And which directors would you wish to work with?

I think it’s a very redundant point discussed these days. See, we need to understand that despite all the shimmery outer appearance of the Entertainment industry, it is a highly volatile one too. Hence, it would only be sensible instead to focus on the idea of Scripts, more than the Idealised ‘role’ per se. So, for me, anything out of the box, progressive and which makes the audiences feel motivated and entertained would be the one.

Amongst directors, I hold Kabir Khan, Shimit Amin, Meera Nair, Neeraj Ghaywan, Neeraj Pandey, Rajkumar Hirani, Alfonso Cuaron, Imtiaz Ali, Meghna Gulzar ji in high regard! (these are the only names I could remember for now, the list is long!!)

4. With the onset of OTT platforms, how has it helped you as an actor? Would OTT platforms have a bigger impact as compared to a theatrical release in times to come?

OTT Platform is by far the most actor-friendly medium ever discovered in this century. Why do I say that? Because it caters to all races, all genders, all body types and is extremely inclusivist in its framework and approach. Any actor from any part of the world to this day can now sincerely look forward to a full-fledged protagonist’s character as per the demand of a script. All one needs is to work honestly on their craft to get there! Gone are the days when one would have to harp on the hope of befriending an Industry insider to make it big. Hence, with its limited shoot-schedules assigned for one specific part of the year, web series has given me the generous amount of time to organise my work on the academic front as well as balance other commitments in my personal and social life. I have to thank the universe for always giving me the privilege to explore fresh scripts for every web series audition that I have attempted so far.

Yes, I do agree that OTT platforms would have a significant, if not for argument’s sake lets say, bigger impact, as OTT allows anyone to access any kind of content from the comfort of their homes, especially in a Post-Covid world where our external movement is fairly, limited. Also, we need to consider the fact that in a modernised society run by capitalism, people do not have the luxury to enjoy the previous Cinema hall experience, as much as one may try and be a nostalgic theatre-buff. I have myself, missed out on so many of my friend’s releases and watched them later after a month’s time on some streaming platform precisely because of the uncountable commitments in hand and lack of time.

5. You have earlier acted in the Netflix series Delhi Crime and The Hindi film The Big Bull. Now with your latest release Decoupled, has it brought any changes in terms of recognition?

Oh yes, You bet! I woke up with tags and mentions from people across the world- South Africa, Australia, Oman and of course our neighbours, Bangladesh and Pakistan. One of the twitter accounts has also given me the Nickname, ‘Soup Girl’ which also happens to be the description of my Instagram bio and many users tagged me and R. Madhavan Sir in their mentions and also requested me to share the handles of other phenomenal actors in our series, which then I did via my Instagram stories upon their sincere request.

Shrestha Banerjee Decoupled 

6. How comfortable are you with the length of your role? Would you do a blink and a miss role if it brings you recognition in a Big Budget Film/Series or would you always be assured about the part which you play irrespective of the length of your role?

I am a firm believer of the fact that an actor’s craft is all it takes to make the audiences believe in their potential. It would be an endless list if I were to mention the names of various phenomenal actors, many of whom happen to be good friends of mine and have now made it big after years of perseverance and working on their craft. Now with the release of ‘Decoupled’, I would be lying if I said that I will be happy doing blink-and-miss characters. I would however, still consider at least a parallel lead character, if not the protagonist’s part, but let’s be hopeful of all the probabilities surfacing soon in a post-pandemic era. Fingers crossed!

7. Looking ahead, what does the new year 2022 bring for you? Any new releases which you are excited about?

Yes there are some, because as I said earlier, the script is the winner for me, irrespective of the medium of release. Hence, I am very much looking forward to the release of my two prestigious International short film projects, ‘E-Rickshawali’ by Hope B-Lit, a not-for-profit Los Angeles based Humanitarian organisation’s project and an official selection at the prestigious Rajasthan International Film Festival to be held in March 2022, where I play a parallel lead and ‘Saving Chintu’ opposite Adil Hussain ji as a supporting cast, which is awaiting a major OTT release soon, apart from a few strictly Non-disclosure agreement projects next year.

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Farhad Dalal

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