I would love to play an older character, for contrast, says Shweta Tripathi
The actor — best known for Masaan and now starring in Laakhon Mein Ek on Amazon Prime — talks career choices, big screen vs small, and being many women all at once.
You probably know her as the girl from Masaan (2015). That film won multiple accolades, including at Cannes, and two years later, Shweta Tripathi’s reputation was sealed with her turn in the critically acclaimed Haraamkhor. Tripathi turned another corner last month, with the release of Season 2 of the Amazon Prime Original, Laakhon Mein Ek. Season 1 dealt with the coaching class industry. Season 2 deals follows the challenges of a young doctor on a rural assignment. It’s a raw, rugged tale and Tripathi is its star. We sat down with the 33-year-old to talk career choices, big screen vs small, and being many women all at once.
How are you feeling about the release of Laakhon Mein Ek?
This has been my favourite project until now. Even while shooting it, I knew we were making something special. When your work is out it definitely matters what others think — friends, family, people from the industry. But with this series I was so content that it did not matter at all.
What drew you to the role of the young Dr Shreya Pathare? What kind of research went into getting into character?
One thing that helped a lot was the script. The director Abhishek Sengupta and [the show’s creator] Biswa Kalyan Rath had spoken to many doctors and that reflected in the script. My research was mainly in two parts — the professional and the psychological. For the professional part, I keenly followed the way doctors carry themselves, carry their stethoscope, the difference in tone when they speak with a patient and when they are speaking with friends.
And then there was the psychological part. Can a doctor show emotion? What is the emotional toll that this job really takes? I interacted with doctors — how do they feel at the end of a bad day, how do they spend their free time. I did not want a doctor to say, this is not what doctors are like. So it felt special when doctors called me to thank me for how accurately the story of their lives was told.
You played a schoolgirl in Haraamkhor. You’re constantly playing women much younger than you are. How does that feel?
In fact, the oldest character I have played is Dr Pathare, who’s 24. It’s just worked out like that. Directors don’t seem to worry about my age if I fit into the character. Now I find it easier to play younger characters. There is a simplicity to things when you are young. When Sandhya [from Haraamkhor] falls in love, she doesn’t overthink it. A character my age would ask practical questions. But at that age, when you’re in love, you’re in love. I would love to play a character much older than I am, just for the contrast.
You play women who inhabit very different worlds. What does that bring to an actor’s skill and experience?
These characters make you explore lives that are very different from yours and make you more sensitive. After doing Gone Kesh (in 2019), a story about a girl with alopecia, the whole concept of beauty gained a different meaning for me. In Haraamkhor, I couldn’t figure why this schoolgirl would fall in love with a teacher who was so not right for her. To understand the character, you start thinking about her life. As an actor, you realise you just cannot be judgmental.
How has your everyday life changed? What do your parents think about your shows?
Well, people do recognise me on the streets and come up to talk. This happens a lot in Uttar Pradesh, where they identify me with the roles I played in Mirzapur and Masaan. Initially, I used to be very restrained in public. But now I am just myself, a little more responsible. It mostly feels good when people recognise you but sometimes it can get a little tiring when you want to be with yourself or are in a low mood.
At home things haven’t changed much. My parents and my in-laws are ardent followers of all my work, even my interviews. They are often among the first to watch and give feedback. But with all this I always manage to make time for my two important hobbies of reading and watching films.
Does critical feedback affect you?
I do not get overwhelmed by criticism or praise. I try to take it in my stride and pick up anything useful. If we start getting affected by all kinds of opinion given the number of people who watch our work it will be difficult to function.
Which is your preferred platform, the big screen or small?
The idea of being shown on the big screen is still very special but the reach of OTT is amazing. The series format is also more challenging, considering the sheer length. How do you maintain consistency of character from one season to the next and the next? We can say that talent has a little more opportunity now.