It was definitely challenging to play Arshi: Medha Shankar on her role in Shaadisthan

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Medha Shankar is an Indian actor known for her work in movies Shaadisthan on Hotstar and BBC series Beecham House directed by Gurinder Chadha, currently streaming on Netflix. The movie Shaadisthan starring Kirti Kulhari, Nivedita Bhattacharya and Kay Kay Menon has received good reviews and Medha is seen playing one of the lead characters. Medha was also seen in Sketches with The Viral Fever (TVF) & Netflix. She has also done some commercials including brands like Coca Cola, Paytm, Fashion at Big Bazaar, etc. In an interview with, Medha talks about her journey into the film industry and other aspects. Excerpts:

Can you describe your journey that culminated in the field of acting? What were the learnings and the challenges faced?

I was pretty shy growing up and was a studious child. Just before my graduation I randomly auditioned for a short film and landed the part. I liked the process of acting and filmmaking and started modelling in Delhi whenever I would get time during my masters. I had decided that I will definitely give acting a try. I moved to Mumbai after my masters. Joined a reputed modelling agency and started auditioning. Initially I would only get called for ad auditions, slowly casting directors began noticing my acting skills and started calling me to audition for web series and films. One of the biggest learnings has been not to get emotionally attached to any project until you’re on set. One of the biggest challenges is to learn to persevere and believe in the process. And also to not take rejections personally.

Tell us a bit about Shaadisthan. What are the key elements that have worked towards the success of the film? 

Shaadisthan is a film that has its heart in the right place. It has become such a success because the characters’ emotional journeys really tug at your heartstrings and you deeply feel their pain. So many people connected with Arshi’s journey and her mother’s journey because this tradition of getting daughters married young and against their wishes is still very prevalent in our country. And it is something that needs to be discussed.

In Shaadisthan you play as a young 17-year-old girl. How challenging was the role for you? How did you prepare for the character?

It was definitely challenging to play Arshi because there is so much pain and angst hidden inside her that only bursts open when she has a massive emotional breakdown. In order to prepare for my character ‘Arshi’, I created a personal, social and emotional life for her as a means to give a certain wholeness to her being and to understand her more deeply as a person. I instantly felt connected to Arshi’s pain, angst and her whole emotional journey through this predicament, that started with fighting her parents, crying, pleading, running away and then finally surrendering to her fate. I would just truly feel her pain and despair, and slip into her emotional headspace.

What are your upcoming projects in the pipeline? Have you signed up with other OTT platforms other than Hotstar?

I’m currently shooting for a Hotstar Project. I can’t disclose any other upcoming projects yet.

What according to you are the ways in which OTT platforms are democratizing the film industry by giving opportunities/ new avenues to budding artists, independent filmmakers, etc.?

OTT platforms have definitely opened up numerous opportunities for new actors, writers, directors. There is so much work now with so many web shows and so many OTT platforms these days . It has really given people an opportunity to showcase their talent.

The COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise for OTT platforms. What kind of trends are you foreseeing to emerge in the film industry post-COVID-19?

I think the fun of the silver screen and the comfort of OTT, both have their own charm. And I feel both platforms will thrive in their own ways post the Covid phase.

OTT platforms have given a brand-new opportunity for regional content creators. With subtitling, language is no longer a barrier for regional filmmakers to showcase their work to the world. How can this kind of ‘cross-pollination’ be beneficial for content generators? 

I personally believe films and art transcend all barriers of language, culture, etc. And thankfully people are now becoming aware of the beauty and brilliance of regional cinema. These days audiences want good content irrespective of language.

What are your views on censoring content on streaming services? Will such moves stifle creative freedom and the growth of OTT in India?

I believe the creative freedom and authenticity of content on OTT need to be preserved.