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Begum Jaan became a metaphor for us, to achieve the extraordinary: Pallavi Sharda

Pallavi Sharda, who plays the character of Gulabo in Begum Jaan, revealed how director Srijit Mukherji ensured no actor on the sets used makeup.

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Pallavi Sharda plays the character of Gulabo, a prostitute, in Srijit Mukherji’s Begum Jaan.
Pallavi Sharda plays the character of Gulabo, a prostitute, in Srijit Mukherji’s Begum Jaan.

It’s been seven years since Pallavi Sharda shifted base to Mumbai from Melbourne, and she is finally making her presence felt in Bollywood. She might be one of the 11 women in the gang of Vidya Balan’s Begum Jaan, but Pallavi’s fiery act as Gulabo is grabbing eyeballs. “Gulabo is a very prominent part of the house, and is considered the most popular worker. What I love about her is that she is so daring. That’s something I’ve related to as a character and as a person as well. I found a lot of Gulabo in me. Also the fact that she has a vulnerable sensitive side which I feel is very metaphorical with my own personality,” Pallavi said.

Pallavi plays one of the prostitutes who works in a brothel run by Vidya Balan in Begum Jaan. So did playing such an intense role leave Pallavi inspired? “I think it’s Gulabo’s resilience, it’s her ability to fight for what she believes in. I actually became inspired by Gulabo. She helped me become more brazen about who I am, and unafraid in showing my true self,” Pallavi said.

Begum Jaan is the Hindi remake of Srijit Mukherji’s Bengali film Rajkahini which starred Rituparna Sengupta. Though Pallavi hasn’t seen the original one yet, she said it was a conscious decision so that her performance doesn’t get affected by anything that’s already been shown in the original film.

When the trailer of Begum Jaan released, apart from Vidya, it was Pallavi who made an impact. While speaking to us, she revealed how director Srijit made sure all women on the sets had no-makeup to look absolutely authentic and live their part. Pallavi said, “All of us worked very strongly on our back stories and where we came from, why we were entering the brothel and Srijit was very adamant about it. He managed to make me Gulabo, and everyone else felt like their character. It actually takes a genius mind to manage 11 actresses in diverse situations.”

Out of all her co-actors, Pallavi got along the most with Ila Arun. She said, “There’s a sense of warmth that drove me to her.” On the sets it was Gauahar Khan with whom she felt a “large connection.”

Pallavi Sharda, who hails from Australia, shifted base to Mumbai in 2010
Pallavi Sharda, who hails from Australia, shifted base to Mumbai in 2010

Pallavi who was born and brought up in Australia, is a former beauty queen too. She was crowned the Miss India Australia in 2010, and that’s when she planned to venture out in Hindi films. She debuted with a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name Is Khan. However, she was noticed as the female lead in Besharam opposite Ranbir Kapoor. But, little do people know that apart from a handful of Bollywood projects, Pallavi has also done an Australian film titled Save Your Legs. She also had a small appearance in Oscar nominated film Lion starring Dev Patel. Ask her, despite doing international projects, why doesn’t she talk much about it, as compared to her contemporaries, and pat comes the reply – “I don’t know if anyone wants to hear about it! (laughs) Honestly, if people spoke about it, I would love to speak about it. I think I’m a little shy. There’s a lot that I’ve done in my life, that I haven’t spoken about. I just enjoy my work.”

A still from Besharam starring Ranbir Kapoor and Pallavi Sharda.
A still from Besharam starring Ranbir Kapoor and Pallavi Sharda.

If given a chance, Pallavi would love to do a typical Bollywood song-and-dance film. “I grew up on Bollywood masala films. That’s what drew me to the industry as a child. You can’t roam around as a three year old saying ‘main badi hokar Hindi film actress banungi’ if you haven’t seen Sridevi in Lamhe or Chandni, or Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Koun. They were my reference points, and I’m still truly inspired,” she said.

Pallavi thinks the way dance is captured on the Indian celluloid is beautiful. She revealed she would love to work with directors like Vikramaditya Motwane and Kanu Behl. And whom would she want to romance with onscreen, after Ranbir Kapoor? “I find Aditya Roy Kapur incredibly handsome,” she signs off.

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