Joined: 27 January 2006
Bad babe Pallavi remembers her past...
By Seema Sinha
Shweta Kawaatra's 28-year-old life span could be a leaf straight from Ekta's 'Mano Ya Na Mano'. As Pallavi in 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki' and Isha in 'Kkusum' she has earned the sobriquet of a bad babe. Whether she rolls her eyes, makes faces or cooks a wicked plot, viewers relish watching her antics to break up the Agarwal joint family or hatching a grand design for showdown with her arch-rival Parvati. Shweta, one of TV's most successful and sought after actress talks about her journey in the big, bad city of glitz and glamour - her hand-to-mouth existence, her brush with sleazy film makers, her path towards Buddhism and the uncanny tale of her previous birth...
Bombay dreams and the beginning of my struggles...
My parents suggested that I try out doing commercials in Mumbai. I just came here - neither I nor my parents knew that I would eventually shift here. I came with one suitcase. I started getting calls for catalogue shoots, commercials, serials, and music videos. Finally I got a break in a tele-serial 'Suhana Safar' and the role was also good. Now, the acting bug bit me. Then came Anupam Kher's 'Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum' and I further went to shoot for the Australian tourism in Australia.
I didn't get my money from the producers and I lived hand-to-mouth for about a year. Thereafter, that tough time I started doing 'Bandhan' and 'Ghar Ek Mandir', and I also signed 'Darr' in which I got the lead role with Irfan being my husband and Harsh Chhaya my lover. People noticed me. Then 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki' happened in 2001. Apart from television, I would also meet the film producers. I found their offices a bit shady and there used to be only men around. They would ask strange questions like "Do you have boyfriends?"
I wondered what it had to do with my acting career. And when I said no, the response would be 'Very Good'. Then the next questions would be: "What will you do? Would you compromise?" I started understanding all this after a couple of meetings.
One producer after he had sent his scriptwriter out of the room asked me "Do you have a problem wearing a bikini?" And I replied, "If you want me wear a swim suit in a drawing room and dance, then I have a problem or if you just want people to see me in a swim suit even then I have a problem. But if it is for an authentic scene then it is fine." These experiences made me wise. I started understanding people. When you are new you are inundated with so many calls and most of these people are just doing time-pass. I stopped going for film meetings.
Grey shade is much more exciting...
When I started 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki' (KGGK) all I know was to speak a few lines. I did not know how to improvise but I learnt from my co-stars, Kiran and Rinku. Whenever frustration and stagnation has seeped in, it has worked out positively with me. As long as I look comfortable in scenes the others don't feel that I am not taking interest in work. I always work at making a scene look better. Now, there are some good shades in the character of 'Pallavi'.
Apart from KGGK I am also doing 'Good Health Show', 'Current Hollywood', the play 'Uncle Samjha Hero' and 'Kkusum'. The period from 2001 has been very good for me. The struggle has been of a different kind - not where the movies are involved - but the newly found fame. I went to Delhi six months after KGGK had started and I was mobbed in the market where I spent a big chunk of my life where I would go with my friends to eye the boys. When I was mobbed I got into the shop and locked the door. People outside were banging at the door to get me out. My mom definitely felt proud of me.
I am ready to move on to newer pastures. The industry has accepted me as a good actress. I am also being offered positive and goody roles. But I am not accepting them as they are too limiting. I have done the bad and now I want to play the grey shade. All of us are grey, we are good, but we do make mistakes. I don't want to get typecast. I'm looking for a good script. I'm very instinctive about the kind of work I take up. I depend a lot on my intuition.
I have to feel good about the whole set up.
I talked about my previous birth... I had a Bombay connection
It is damn weird, but it is true. My mom tells me that when I was about a year old I remembered my previous life. It lasted for four years. One-year child doesn't talk much, but I learnt to talk very early. Whenever anyone screamed at me or scolded me, I would threaten to leave for Mumbai. They would make fun initially thinking that they have heard this from somewhere else. But when my stories continued for about four years my parents and grandparents got intrigued.
At one year I told my mom that I lived in Mumbai and had a bungalow somewhere in Madh Island. We were three brothers and we studied in some Cambridge School in Mumbai. My 'dadi' (grandmother) was a doctor. One day I was playing and all of a sudden I rushed into my room, huddled myself and started crying. Everybody wondered what had happened. I told my grandmother that I had to go to Mumbai urgently since my grandmother was calling me... some people were troubling her for the property and that she needed me...
My grandmother handled the situation well and did not get hyper in front of me. Today my 'dadi' admits that she knew that I would go to Mumbai someday because I had a strong connection with the city. Apparently, I talked about that incident for so many years... and it would come out in bouts. This was really strange because nobody in our family had any connections in Mumbai. My mother got scared and never asked me too many questions because she had heard about an incident where a 13-year-old girl remembered everything about her previous birth, she became very weak psychologically, went mad and died.
My mother tells me that I used to look very different while telling stories, as if I was present there. I didn't look like a child, which was very scary for her. She stopped being curious. It did have an effect on my life somewhat because I am here in Mumbai, Cambridge School does exist and I never learnt how to swim. I had this habit of smiling at everyone. While traveling I would go to every seat and smile at people. My mom used to have tough time because these young bachelor types would come and sit with my mom on the pretext of playing with me - 'O, is this your child... 'bahut pyaara bachcha hai'. I gave a hard time to mom because these men would 'stick' to her...
I was caught with a cigarette...
Once when I was in Class IX two boys were caught carrying cigarettes in their bag. One of the boys put the cigarette packet in my bag to save his skin, and when I reached home my mom asked me to show my homework. I was caught. I explained to her, but she didn't listen and I got a good thrashing.
I follow Buddhism...
I read about Buddhism and it made a lot of sense to me. I have been into it for four months now. It is not blind faith and definitely not idol worship. The teachings say that there is nothing without a cause. Every moment of our lives we make causes, whether good or bad, in better words we call it karma. Our environment is the reflection of our own self. More than often we fail to look inside ourselves and conveniently blame others.
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Joined: 01 March 2006
Joined: 27 January 2005
Joined: 17 October 2005
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