It is not easy for an actor to work across different languages and make his other presence felt in different mediums but Priya Banerjee has managed to do exactly that. She has been a part of a couple of successful regional films, done a few web-shows and is now seen in Hindi films. Her last film may not have struck gold at the box-office but she has an interesting line-up of films this year. In this interview, she talks about her new film '3 Dev', her journey from Canada to Bollywood and upcoming projects.
2018 seems to be that year when a lot of hard work you had put in some of your projects is finally paying off. '3 Dev' has been ready for a while and is releasing now. How does it feel?
You had shot for another film 'Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna' around two years back. It is also slated to release later this year.
We started shooting for it a while back but since we had to shoot at many locations, it took us a while to finish it. Our last schedule was in Sikkim and then, we shot for a bit in Mumbai and wrapped it up. We will find out about the release date in a few months.
The concept of '3 Dev' is quite interesting. These days people take offence to anything and everything. The film touches upon religion in a way and it might attract some controversy. Did you anticipate any trouble while signing the film?
When I was signing the film, I did not foresee any trouble. Even now, I do not think there would be any trouble because it is not a sensitive film. It is a comedy. We are not trying to hurt anybody's sentiments. Even when I read the script, I did not think people will have an issue with anything. People made such a big deal about 'Padmaavat' but then, it came out and they realised it was a good film. '3 Dev' is a fun film and we are not trying to put anybody down.
We got to see very little of you in the trailer. Can you share something about your character in the film?
The story, of course, revolves around three boys. It is about how they land up in a village where everybody starts believing that they are Gods. I have been paired opposite Ravi Dubey. My character's name is Vaani which is another name for Goddess Saraswati. She has many characteristics which one associate with Saraswati. She is an educated girl from a small town and is more modern than most people in the town.
We see the three leading men on the posters. How do you make sure that your character stands out in a film which is driven by male characters?
An actor's job is to make sure that he or she makes his or her presence felt. We had a great team. The director was great. The writers established the characters well. I really like my character because she is quite outspoken and is very interactive with the other characters. Without the devis, there would be no devs. Once you watch the film, you will realise it is a very important character. The songs are doing well. Sajid-Wajid have given some great music.
Everybody a lot of people come to Mumbai to act in Hindi films. You came all the way from Canada. How has the journey been like?
I did not come to India to become an actor. I had finished my graduation and I had a few months off. I was always creatively inclined and had participated in a couple of beauty pageants back in Canada. I wanted to look around and explore a few things. I did a diploma course in Actor Prepares. I was not planning to settle down. I already had my return ticket booked. I got an offer to audition for a Telugu film. I just gave the audition for fun as I believed I would never get the film as I did not even know the language. I went back to Canada and one day, I got a call from the production stating that I had been locked for the role. I was shocked. They informed me that they would shoot the film for a month and a half in San Francisco. I said yes to the film because of the prospect of visiting San Francisco. After that, I kept working and I had to be in India to promote the films. That is how films actually happened to me.
So, it turned out to be a much longer stay than you had anticipated.
Yes, I had come here for four months and now, it has been four years. My parents keep asking me when I am coming back and I tell them 'soon'. (laughs)
You started your career with a Telugu film, did a Tamil film, a couple of Telugu project and a web show that was made in Telugu and Hindi. Now, you are doing Hindi films. How do you manage to strike a balance between working in different industries and mediums?
The experience has been great so far. I do not think acting needs any kind of language. Even if I got a good Chinese film, I will do it. In India, the Telugu film industry is growing really fast. Every state makes such beautiful films of their own kind. I would love to do films in different languages and across different industries.
'Social', the web series, was very popular. Do you plan to explore the digital space further?
I do. Vikram Bhatt's 'Rain' was my first web show. It was not a full-fledged web show. It was more of a mini web series. The show did really well and I still get messages from people asking me when I am going to do a show like that again. As an actor, you always want to do films but digital is growing really fast. It has a great spectrum of audience right now.
Some people are of the opinion that a film actor does a TV show or a web series leads to over-exposure.
I do not think that is that perception exists any more. Saif Ali Khan is doing a web-series with Anurag Kashyap. Even my co-actor in '3 Dev' Ravi is from television but he is not going to stop doing television just because he has done a film. If you are good at what you do, the medium does not matter. It could be web or it could be TV. As long as people are watching you and like your work, you can work anywhere. It does not make a difference.
You had a big hit in the Telugu industry in the form of 'Asura'. Your last Hindi film 'Dil Jo Na Keh Saka' did not do very well. You had to wait for a long time for a couple of films to release. Have you planned something as far as your career in Hindi films is concerned?
I have never planned anything as such for anything. I am enjoying the process and the journey. I am really grateful that I am doing films as I did not have any contacts in the film industry. The fact that people like my work is a big compliment for me as it shows that they want to see me. I am pretty new in this place and I am doing what I like doing. I am not thinking that in the next five years I have to be like Priyanka Chopra. I think actors should always keep working. They should not sit at home. In today's world, people will forget your face if you are not seen for a while. You do one film and you au think Karan Johar will come to me with a film. Kartik Aryan is doing great but it took him a while to reach here. Sana Fatima Shaikh did a couple of films and then, Dangal happened.
'Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna' is slated to release this year. Which are the other projects you are working on?
T-Series has acquired 'Humein Tumse Pyaar kiyna'. I have shot for 'Dheet Patangey'. It has been produced by Adhikari Brothers and Ravi Adhikari has directed it.
THE TEN QUESTIONS
A character which you wish you had played.
Priyanka Chopra's role in Aitraaz. I love dark characters.
Most prized possession.
If you had to be on a 15 hour long flight, who would you want to sit next to?
Leonardo Di Caprio.
The most courageous thing you have done in your life.
Every day I do something I cannot pull off.
Have you ever had a weird fan moment?
We were shooting in Hyderabad. Somebody came to the sets and wanted to deliver a letter that he had supposedly written in blood.
Insects that can move and fly around. I can jump off a cliff. That had actually happened to me. I was standing next to a cliff and there was a fly.
A phrase or a word you keep saying all the time.
I don't know. I think it's 'I don't know'.
A thing about you the world needs to know.
I think everyone already knows about it. I am a foodie.
Have you ever walked out of a film in a theatre?
No, I always finish a film. Staying in this industry you know how much effort and hard work goes into making a film. A film can turn out to be bad sometimes but you have to appreciate and acknowledge the effort.
Best word to describe you.
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