After being in the industry for close to two decades and playing a variety of characters in theatre, TV shows and films, Dilnaz Irani believes now it’s the best time to be an actor. This belief comes from the fact that because of the digital revolution, actors are now getting the opportunity to play strong characters and be a part of stories that were not being told earlier.
In this interview, she talks about the favourable response received by her recently released shows ‘Aarya 2’ and ‘Decoupled’, making a switch from engineering to acting, forthcoming projects and more.
‘Aarya 2’ was shot during the pandemic. Was it more challenging to shoot a series during these times?
Definitely! There were certain restrictions. As actors, we can’t wear a mask half of the time and because of that, fear creeps in at times. There was a lot of nervousness on the set as we were working in a closed setup. We overcame that eventually. Shooting hours were reduced. In the middle of the shoot, lockdown happened again and things got stretched. All the workshops and rehearsals happened online. Because of all these factors, the shoot proved to be quite challenging.
How do you feel about the response that the show has received?
The response has been overwhelming! I have been constantly receiving congratulatory messages on my performance on WhatsApp and social media.
Last month, you had another release in the form of ‘Decoupled’.
Working on ‘Decoupled’ was a fun experience. The whole idea of a couple celebrating their divorce was bizarre and beautiful at the same time. I got to work with a wonderful team on this series.
Back in the day, you had studied Electronics Engineering. How did acting happen?
I always had an inclination towards acting. Even before I took up my first job as an electrical engineer, I was doing theatre. My first professional play happened at a very young age. It was a play with Boman Irani and Rajat Kapoor called ‘I Am Not Baji Rao’. I don’t come from an acting or media background. When I told my parents I want to become an actor, they were like, ‘you are a 90% student, how can you think about becoming an actor?”. I worked as a software engineer for four years. During this time, I did episodics for shows like ‘Star Bestsellers’ and ‘Ssshhhh…Koi Hai’. It was quite difficult to juggle between two different professions. Sometimes, I would be awake for 38-40 hours at a stretch. I would work from 9 am – 7 pm in the office and then, go for my shoot. Then, Gladrags Megamodel Hunt happened and it took my life in a new direction. I realized what I really wanted to do was act. I decided to leave my career as an engineer behind and become a full-time actor. It’s been eighteen years and I hope to keep acting for several years more.
Do you think the OTT boom has led you towards getting better opportunities?
Yes, I am getting to play much more interesting parts now. OTT has created great opportunities for everyone. Apart from actors, it has opened up a new set of jobs for writers, directors and technicians. If there were a hundred jobs before, there are a thousand jobs now. I am now getting to play more interesting characters.
What are you doing next?
I have been shooting for a series that will be out on Amazon Prime Video next year. I have also shot for an independent film which should have a digital release sometime next year.