In conversation with the beautiful and talented Shiwaanii Bhardwaj

Shiwaanii Bhardwaj is the perfect epitome of beauty with brains. An actor, model and a danseuse, Shiwaanii was last seen in Jio Cinema’s Fuh Se Fantasy. We caught up with this talented actor for an exclusive tete-a-tete.

To begin with Shiwaanii, tell us where in India are you from?

I am actually from a lot of places. I was brought up in Himachal, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ranchi, Ahmedabad and then Mumbai happened. So I am an amalgamation of all these places and I follow the cultures of every single state that I have been in.

That’s lovely to hear. How did your tryst with modelling and acting happen?

 I came to Mumbai in 2021 and had graduated that year in Pharmacy. While I was pursuing pharmacy right from the first year itself, I started doing modelling gigs so that I could earn some pocket money. My Dadi who is a theatre actor herself encouraged me to do a diploma course in performing arts. I also went to London on a scholarship for 8 months. There I did a course in performing arts. So that’s how my journey into acting started. And as soon I completed my graduation, I knew that I wanted to go in this direction(acting) itself. Also since my early childhood, the field of creative arts has fascinated me. I remember since I was 14, I have been into theatres and my Dadi was a big inspiration. When I was in my 2nd year, I choreographed a dance drama which was about Goddess Durga and demon Mahishasur. That drama got me a lot of attention. That’s how I started believing that acting is for me.

Do you remember the first time you faced a camera? How was the entire experience?

Yes. When I came to Mumbai, the first agency that I used to be associated with got me a couple of advertisement gigs. One was Parachute and one was for Boro Plus. So on sets, I used certain tricks or tools which I had learnt before in my acting institution that in turn helped in getting more footage and lines. For instance, ads generally focus on the hyperventilating of the emotion rather than the conclusion of the wholesome. So I had an advertisement crash course in London which was about How to act in ads. So these things helped  me and I started getting more footage in ads. Later I did my first lead in Bharat Matrimony’s ad and then I did an ad for Vaseline where the director really complimented my performance. So that is how my acting journey in front of the camera kickstarted.

I remember seeing you for the first time on screen in Asur 2….

Yes. I had a very small part in Asur 2. I was actually selected a day before the shoot happened. I did the small role because I wanted that experience. The Executive Producer really liked my work and he pitched me for different projects.

What are you acting next in?

I have acted in a movie called Behisaab which is Laxman Utekar sir’s production starring Amey Wagh. I have also worked in an independent webseries which is yet untitled.

Let’s talk about Fuh Se Fantasy. You looked beautiful in it and acted very well…

(Smiles) Thank you. I didn’t want to do it previously. I had rejected some of their previous episodes. My agent then told me the current story that I was approached for was a romantic story. I had a meeting with the director and told her that I am not comfortable with the intimate sequence. She told me that the shoot will be done very aesthetically and tastefully and they showed me the references. And it was all female crew members team which allowed me to openly express my concerns. They told me it’s a romantic story and not a lustfilled story. And it was a different experience shooting for it because the DOP told me that she wanted me to shoot without any make up on. Overall, I would call Fuh Se Fantasy a different and nice experience.

As an actor, how do you find the process of auditions today. Has it become tough or easy?

Auditioning process has become very easier compared to what it used to be before. Self-test has now become a regular practise. So, I can create an audition in my own space and time and I can send it. I don’t have stand in line for auditions now. But what is usually a little hurtful is the whole process of selecting a known face for a role. I have lost out a couple of roles as the lead because of this known face thing. There was a well-known production house that wanted to launch me but because of the production crisis that they faced because they were making small budget films they had to go for somebody who was known. So there are times where the director has wanted me for a role but the production house wanted a known face.

What do you mean by a known face?

Simply put, a known face is someone who is either known in mainstream media or social media. So, if you have great following it will be easier for you to get work. Now I don’t want to be an influencer. That’s something that I don’t aspire to be because I feel that it doesn’t matter how many people follow you. Rather it is important who follows you.

Fair enough. That’s great thought to live by. Tell us, what kind of roles or characters attract you?

I would want to play very nuanced characters. Based on the feedback that I have been getting, I feel my eyes can speak a lot. I want to play grey roles as well. I don’t want to play basic characters. I want to play characters that have a lot of layers in it. Also, I would like to work with a lot of women. I feel the way women have been portrayed in our cinema it has always been categorised. Somebody who is a babe, somebody who is a desi. Somebody who is a mixture of the two. I see the chemistry between a woman and another woman or female interactions happening a little in our cinema today. But that interaction is not very realistic right now.

Who are the directors that you would like to work with?

Anvita Dutt, Imtiaz Ali, Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

And actors you want to collaborate with?

Wamika Gabbi, Vijay Varma, Tabu, Rashmika Mandanna.