Shweta Basu Prasad won the National Award as a child actor in the 2002 film Makdee. She then appeared in the critically acclaimed film Iqbal in 2005. Despite all the adulation coming her way at the time, the actress' parents made her take a break from acting to concentrate on her studies.
“My parents said no to a lot of films – Rajkumar Santoshi’s Halla Bol, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Traffic Signal. They said no to a lot of television shows because they were very strict about my studies and wanted me to graduate first. From 2011 to 2015, I was working on a documentary on the dying visibility of classical music. I was assisting Anurag Kashyap, working with Phantom Films. I also made and acted in a short film with Naseeruddin Shah. I didn’t disappear, I was behind the camera,” Shweta tells us.
She is back in front of the camera and how. Unlike many of us this year, Shweta has had a pretty productive lockdown. A bunch her projects have released on streaming services in the past 6-7 months, and there’s more on the way. She was recently seen with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the Netflix film Serious Men, and starred in the crime thiller series High that released on MX Player last week. She has yet another release coming up, a film called Comedy Couple, that’s premiering next week.
Quiz her about her back to back projects on digital platforms, and the actress says, “OTT is a great format and there is so much work. Comedy Couple is going to be my 6th release of the year. Shukranu released in February, then came Hostages Season 2, followed by Serious Men and High. It’s a great time to be an actor. A lot of good work is happening.”
High is the first web series that Shweta shot for, even though it has released only now. The series is a fictional narrative based on the drug problem in India, and Shweta plays one of the doctors who develops a magic pill that cures addiction.
“This is the first web series that I shot for. This came to me last year in June or July. And I was very excited because it's a very interesting story about a fictional plant-based medicine that cures drug addiction. Pharmaceutical companies, the medicine industry, and people who sell drugs get involved and create problems. I'm playing one of the three doctors who create this pill. I've never seen or heard of any series like this, so I was very interested in it,” Shweta says.
The actress is totally upbeat about the lockdown, having spent ample me-time at home and pursuing some passion projects. She even coloured her hair blue, just to experiment.
“We actors hardly get time to experiment with our looks because of shoots and continuity issues. I can’t possibly shoot High with blue hair. So during the lockdown I coloured my hair blue. I did a vlog series on Instagram called ‘Actors on Actor’, where I would invite an actor and discuss their favourite legendary actor. During the lockdown, everyone became yoga experts and skincare specialists, no one was talking about cinema. So I did that vlog series,” she says.
“The first episode was with Raghubir Yadav talking about Balraj Sahni. I did another episode with Divya Dutta on Shabana Azmi. During the lockdown I was revisiting those films that I had grown up watching. And I thought, nobody talks about these actors and their greatness. Instagram audience is mostly 18 to 35, and I thought it would be nice to introduce these icons to them,” she adds.