Though she is just a few years old in the industry, Medha Shankar has already featured in some prominent projects including the British series ‘Beecham House’ and the Hindi feature film ‘Shaadisthan’ that started streaming on Disney+Hotstar a while back. In this interview, she talks about her journey in the entertainment industry so far, getting ‘Shaadisthan’ through Facebook, working with Gurinder Chadha, how she discovered her passion for acting and more.
You got ‘Shaadisthan’ because of your Facebook profile. How did that come about?
This happened in 2018. Back then, a lot of actors were still being discovered by casting directors and filmmakers via Facebook. I had posted a behind-the-scene picture of ‘Beecham House’, the British series I had shot for then. Around that time, Raj (Singh Chaudhary) sir was actively casting for his film. He wanted a new face for Arshi. When you have common friends, Facebook sends you recommendations. He happened to see the picture I had put up on my profile and felt my face was very close to how he imagined Arshi to be. He went through my profile and realized I had done ‘Beecham House’. He knew about the show as a lot of his friends had acted in it. Lara Dutta, who has been his best friend since childhood, was also a part of the show. He called up Lara to enquire about me. She must have said some good things about me because of which he got the confidence to audition me. His team got in touch with me through Facebook. He met me, briefed me about the character, took my audition and finalized me for the role.
Your journey as a professional actor begun in the year 2018. You have done a few but very reputed projects. Are you cautious about the kind of work you take up as an actor?
Yes, I want to be associated with projects that help me grow as an actor. When I got ‘Beecham House’, I was very excited. Being my first major project, ‘Beecham House’ set the bar pretty high for me. ‘Shaadisthan’ was a big commercial project. It is very difficult to say no to projects as a newcomer but I glad have the courage to do so. I think as an actor, you get the freedom to decide your path. I want to do the kind of work that I could be proud of.
Gurinder Chadha was one of the creators on ‘Beecham House’. She is one of the few filmmakers from India who have made a mark internationally. How was the experience of working with her?
It was amazing! Gurinder ma’am is a taskmaster but at the same time, she is an extremely chilled-out person and fun to work with. ‘Beecham House’ was a very big production and had several British and Indian actors. The level of professionalism that you get to see on an international project is incredible. Everybody would reach the sets on time and be prepared with their lines. Working on the show was a great learning experience for me.
‘Shaadisthan’ premiered on Disney+Hotstar and got a positive response from the audience. Do you think it was a good stepping stone for you as an actor?
Absolutely! We shot the film in 2019. At one point, I got a little anxious thinking when will it release. The release got delayed because of the pandemic but now when I look back, I realise this was the right time for the film to release. The film found a perfect home for itself on Disney+Hotstar. Since the last one year, the viewership on OTT platforms has grown significantly. A large number of people watched and appreciated our film and that’s something I feel very grateful about.
You wanted to become a doctor at one point of time. How did acting happen?
I was very young when I thought of becoming a doctor. Very soon, I realized this was not my cup of tea (laughs). I was a very good student but I used to take part in extra-curricular activities too. I have trained in Hindustani classical music for five years. Dance was also a big passion for me. When I went to college, I started focussing on extra-curricular activities a little more. There was a friend of mine who was a photographer. A friend of his was an assistant director on a short film and they were looking for actors at that point. I had no acting experience then but I auditioned for it and landed the part. Working on that short film was a life-changing experience. I absolutely fell in love with the craft of acting. I wanted to give acting a fair chance, so I moved to Mumbai. Ever since I have come here, my love and passion for acting has only grown with each passing day.
Your next project is a series that happens to be based on the popular novel ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’.
Yes, it’s an adaptation of ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’. Right now, I am not at the liberty to share anything about the show. What I can tell you is the character I am playing is something people have never seen me play before. It is very different from anything I have done so far.