Dressed in chic summer coordinates, Shweta Tripathi looked absolutely gorgeous when she visited our office for an interview. And she was also right on time. If you’re wondering why did I mention that bit of information, let me tell you, not all celebrities are punctual. But our Masaan girl is different from the others. Where most actors would have inhibitions about going bald, Shweta wanted to actually shave her head off for her upcoming film, Gone Kesh. “I really think my wiring is very off, for me it was only exciting,” she shared. That’s the kind of actor she is. “What has this industry taught you?” I ask her. She decided to answer that with a dialogue from Gully Boy, a film her husband was a part of too. “Apna time aayega,” she said and then bursts into a laugh. For those who don’t know, Shweta is married to Chaitnya Sharma popularly known as Slow Cheeta, and almost a couple of months from now, she will celebrate her first wedding anniversary. “We are best friends, I irritate him so much. He is stuck now,” she said with a big smile on her a face tells us about the kind of relationship they share. While the actress was here busy promoting her film, her husband was in Egypt for an event. Of course, she missed him and had already thought about the way she would welcome him— with a tight hug! (I know this because she showed the gif she sent to Cheeta). Now, how cute is this? I was fascinated to know more about her love story, her choice of films, her take on cinema. So we sat down for an interview which was candid, filled with giggles and a lot of fun.
Shweta, you have been a part of movies and web series which are high on content. Was that something you had always thought of?
I never thought that. For me, while growing up, films and acting was equals to Bollywood. In fact, when I was working in a magazine, I gave an idea that we’ll have caricatures of the entire staff. I wanted to show how people actually look like and what their aspirations are. So mine was this yellow suit with a yellow dupatta in a field full of flowers, obviously. So that is what films were to me. Now that I am thinking about the choices I have made, I can definitely say that it is because of my growing up, culture and things that my parents and family have passed on to me. After college, I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to make a difference to the society. But voh acting ka keeda bachpan se kata hua tha. I remember, since I was a kid, I was on stage and very happy about it. But I also wanted to be on television. My dad is an IAS officer and mom is a teacher, so nobody knew the process of auditions or any of these things. I knew that I wanted to be in the Googly Woogly Woosh Ponds ad. I had that fascination but no understanding. Later I started doing theatre workshops because my parents thought it would be good for personality development. My parents were culturally included and so was I. The kind of work I wanted to do, it’s showing in my films also. It is not like my films are documentaries or socially changing, there are fun movies also. I’m enjoying what I am doing but at the same time, I don’t want to be an eye candy. I don’t want to do something because of the big banner or some big name or tag. I would choose a Masaan, Haraamkhor and Gone Kesh over and over again as compared to a big a commercial film that gave me the biggest vanity van and fanciest food. For me, content is the most important thing and it will always be.
Since you mentioned commercial cinema, what is your take on it?
I think commercial cinema is great! I don’t understand why commercial cinema has to be bad. When I see Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and other good commercial films. I feel we shouldn’t divide it between festival and commercial films. I think they should merge; it should be a good and bad film. Other tags don’t matter. Commercial cinema is great in terms of popularity, visibility and I’m sure all actors would want to do it. But I know a lot of actors won’t settle just for that. They need something more. We are here to act because we love acting. So that is what drives a whole lot of us.
Coming to Gone Kesh, it’s not like we haven’t seen actresses undergo a complete makeover but we don’t see it happen too often too. Did you have any inhibitions about your bald look?
I really think my wiring is very off. For me, it was only exciting. When I got to know, I was like, ‘Chalo baal uda de?” and Qasim (Khallow, director) was like ‘Shweta, we need your hair for the other scenes so we’ll use prosthetics’. There is no hair but that is your hero, the protagonist of the film. So I was very excited, I was like ‘acche baal, glamour toh zindagi bhar hai karne ke liye’ but a script like this you won’t get. It’s also a light-hearted film and I get to dance for the first time on screen. In fact, Gone Kesh, in a funny way, is the most commercial work I have ever done compared to features like Masaan and Haraamkhor. I have not seen Gone Kesh yet so I’m nervous. I’m very critical about my work, and there are times when I don’t like my work, which is okay, and you can see it on my face too.
Doing a bald character, I’m always up for such things. If you tell me there’s a character on a wheelchair, I would be jumping with happiness. I would be like ‘Yas! Let’s do that’ as compared to somebody looking beautiful. I enjoy these quirks.
So that is what gives you the kick.
Yes, definitely. I wanted the poster to be this- with the bald look. I know I’m not going to anything like this in my career again because you don’t get these chances. Not even for a second did I think about how I will look bald. I find these things exciting and not nerve-racking. I love it and I would love to do it again and again.
Do you ever go back to your films and analyse your performance?
Just as deep my characters are, I am that simple in my real life. During Masaan, I remember we had multiple screenings and we would go for all. After a while I was like ‘I’m done, I don’t want to get bored with my own project’. I love seeing myself on the screen but I can’t have too much of myself also. I don’t want to analyse. Jo ho gaya vo ho gaya, you can’t change it.
Looking at your career, you have a good balance of Bollywood films and web shows. Do you think an actor’s career should have a balance of both?
I am going to talk on my behalf, the world that you used, ‘balance’, I think that is the keyword to follow in life- be it junk food and healthy food, if you drink or not. So even in terms of web shows and features, I think that is important because they both give you a different kind of experience and exposure. If the web is giving you the reach, seeing yourself on the big screen definitely give you the feels, that is the ultimate dream when you see yourself. I am very excited when my shows come out. Laakhon Mein Ek is going to come out in April, it is one of my favourite projects. But bade parde ki baat is bada parda. Friday is like report day, so your work is out there to see and judge. I enjoy both the mediums a lot and if there is something else, I would love to explore that too. I am very greedy as an actor; I want to do as much as possible. By as much I mean quality, not quantity.
You have been a part of the industry for so long. What is that one thing that it has taught you?
Apna time aayega! (laughs). Thankfully, the people that I have worked with have been super amazing. Be it Masaan, Haraamkhor, Made In Heaven, Laakhon Mein Ek, Gone Kesh, Mirzapur The beauty about these projects is they might be commercially smaller but the passion and love that is there for each other, and the 200 percent that everybody puts in, that drives a lot. I don’t know about the industry because I haven’t met majority of them, but whom I’ve met, they have taught me to go all out, and that will make a difference. Hopefully that is what I’m trying to do.
Do you believe that a good movie will find its audience?
Ya, it might take time, which is the sad part. Sad part in the sense that if a good movie does well, then a lot of people, including producers, put their trust and money in the right place. Acche kaam se bohot logo ka fayda hota hai. My philosophy is that good work gets you good work. Just a few days back, I was thinking that I’ve been in Bombay for 12 years now and this is my third release. For a second I was like this is too less. Then I sat and thought that quantity is never something that I wanted. When I look back at the kind of projects I’ve done, I’m very happy. I don’t have any complaints and I’ very satisfied. Obviously, I want more but I am very happy with the career graph that I’ve got.
So even if you were given a chance to shape your career any other way, you won’t want it.
No, if you ask me if I would love to do an Udta Punjab? Definitely yes. I love Alia (Bhatt) and her choices are just spectacular. She does a Badrinath Ki Dulhania and she also does a Kapoor & Sons, she’ll also do a Gully Boy. But if you give me a commercial film which is commercial just for the heck of it, in terms of money, numbers and box-office, that is not exciting for me.
Moving on… You are going to complete a year of marriage some months from now. How much have things changed for you post your marriage, personally and professionally? Or have they changed at all?
Post marriage what’s changed is, let’s say if I had one family as my support system, now I have two. My mother-in-law is the biggest fan! Every time I leave the house, even for promotions, she’ll be like ‘acha beta baal aise kar lena aur ye aise kar lena’. They know what my dream is and how much Cheeta and I, both love our jobs. Both of us understand that and our parents understand that, and that makes everything easy. And work-wise, work has doubled post marriage. So everybody says that Cheeta is very lucky for you, and I say ‘Ya, so am I’.
I knew my marriage is not going to stop me from working. There were so many people who asked, “Apka kaam ka kya hoga? Kaam kum ho jaayega” but I was like ‘why?’ Because I never wanted that, no one around me thought of it. If you give up on yourself and don’t believe in your dreams, why will anyone else believe in it? I think marriage is great, provided you have found the right person.
I loved his performance as the bad guy in Gully Boy.
Thank you! So I keep telling him the spoilers. He knew everything about Mirzapur. So we don’t tell each other anything about work now. He had not told me anything about Gully Boy, so when I saw I was like, ‘Cheeta, you’re the bad guy’ and he was laughing. I love him. He is my favourite person in the world.
Can you tell me about your love story with Cheeta?
Ohhh! It is going to be 6 years since we met. We met in June 6 years back and I just fell in love with the person, yaar. When you meet him you’ll know, he’s just so full of life. If I’m a certain way, he is double. We are always just laughing, he is making fun of me, laughing, the kind of stories and videos he puts up, we have this sketch called ‘Ramu Kaka’ on his Instagram page. There are crazy things that we do. He is coming back from Egypt in 2 days, he was there for an event. So we miss each other.
Voh movie ka romanticism vo sab bohot achi baat hai, but even in terms of love stories, I want to do love stories that people relate to. For example, a film like Ruby Sparks or Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind or even Masaan, stories like these stays with you. I want to be a part of such things.
With Cheeta also, our friendship, comfort is so much more. We are each other’s biggest fans, and best friends and that’s very important. To be able to laugh with, and at each other is required.
Shweta, you are the sweetest! I had so much fun interviewing you. Wishing you all the luck for Gone Kesh.
Also, check this video of Shweta telling us all the things women are tired of hearing about their hair:
How many of these could you relate to?