‘Peepli Live’ to ‘Ludo’: Shalini Vatsa on her decade-long run in Bollywood


Actor Shalini Vatsa talks about her quick but amiable romantic strand with Pankaj Tripathi in recently-released ‘Ludo’, and finishing a decade in Bollywood

There is an air of secrecy Shalini Vatsa appears to have constructed that even the Internet can not breach.

She not often offers interviews and is hardly seen throughout movie promotions. Shalini admits that she is a quiet particular person and the silence she carries together with her has resulted in a personality trait of kinds — thoughts you, she will not be a recluse (“I am someone who gets into the groove; gets in the corner of what I am doing.”)

As an actor, she feels silence is a robust device of communication — one thing that’s evident in her concise solutions, “I really enjoy silence and tend to play with it to the best of my capacity,” says Shalini, drawing an instance from Sacred Games, wherein she performed Kanta Bai, who harnesses the demon-like Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

In the aforementioned scene, an aged Kanta Bai visits Bunty (Jatin Sarna) in his hideout. Shalini says she felt the silence was somewhat an excessive amount of in what was a fairly lengthy sequence. She anticipated the episode’s director, Vikramaditya Motwane, to trim it, however was delightfully shocked when he retained the essence of the scene. “There is so much you can convey with silence. It’s very powerful, if done right,” she says.

The quiet nature of Lata Kutty, the character she portrayed within the recently-released Ludo, and a delicate romance that blossoms with Sattu (Pankaj Tripathi), are what attracted Shalini when she was provided the position of Kutty, a Malayali nurse in Mumbai. “It is not that Anurag [Basu] gave me the brief saying, ‘There is a lot of silence in the film’. Sometimes, it comes from instinct, when you are on the set especially.” It is without doubt one of the the explanation why this explicit strand stood out in Ludo, she believes.

Chance or selection?

There is a sure emotional depth that Shalini brings to her characters, whether or not it’s Kanta Bai (Sacred Games), Dhanya (Peepli Live), Karma Devi (Gurgaon) and even Lata Kutty. She shows calmness and power without delay, a top quality she attributes to the writers and administrators she has labored with. “When you have a talented team that is working with vision and clarity, then things come together in a nice manner,” she says, including, “My job is to deliver as per the director’s vision.”

Yet, Shalini doesn’t have a solution to why she is underutilised in movies, though it’s a query reserved for filmmakers. “It’s a kitty which was built by itself,” she says with fun, “I would want to do much more work than this. But I never had a wishlist per se. Even the directors I have worked with happened by chance.”

Could it even be due to the form of movies Shalini has related herself with? In movie business’s lingo, they’re something however ‘mainstream’. “When Peepli Live came out, it was a pioneer of the shift in content that was happening. It almost got the recognition of a mainstream film. Likewise, when I joined Sacred Games, I didn’t know how to categorise it because OTT was still making inroads. But it became what it became,” says Shalini.

She provides that it’s arduous to foretell the end result of a movie, whatever the format. “Even today, you don’t consciously categorise films into independent or popular cinema. At least I don’t think like that.”

The emergence of digital platforms has thrown up much more alternatives, not only for actors however for administrators, writers and technicians as properly, says Shalini. Does she really feel there may be extra meat for actors to sink their enamel into in OTT, versus mainstream cinema? “I would say digital has really enhanced the scope for opportunities,” she says, including, “Audience is lapping up all kinds of content. Of course, for an actor, getting into the character is a long process. But the scope for exploration is more on OTT.”

Still strolling

This 12 months, Shalini completes a decade in Bollywood and two in theatre. Looking again, she doesn’t suppose it was a lonely journey in spite of everything. “I have been fortunate with a terrific support system, at home and with friends. I am grateful to all filmmakers who gave such wonderful characters,” she says.

She credit theatre stalwarts Barry John and Habib Tanvir for grooming her and serving to her obtain an edge to her performances. “They are masters and I have worked intensively and extensively with them. What I bring to the table comes from them. However, in films, I know I have only been using the basics I have learnt from them.”

Shalini admits that she will not be into movies to feed off the theatre artiste. The language or medium was by no means a query for her. “There’s a commitment to the character, performance, director and the team. It’s the performance that matters,” she concludes.

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