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Interview Hindi

Very surprised to see people binge-watching Scam 1992, says Shreya Dhanwanthary

The actress looks back at the shooting of the web-series and the important scene in which her character interviews Harshad Mehta.

Keyur Seta

Some artistes wait on the sidelines for fate to hand them the role of a lifetime. Others, like Shreya Dhanwanthary, make sure to be in the right place at the right time. When Dhanwanthary learnt that Hansal Mehta was looking for someone to play real-life journalist Sucheta Dalal in Scam 1992, she auditioned for the role. The rest, as they say, is history.

Dhanwanthary has been receiving praise for her performance in the acclaimed web-series about the rise and fall of the late stockbroker Harshad Mehta, played by Pratik Gandhi, whose wrongdoings were exposed by Dalal.

In an exclusive interview, Dhanwanthary looked back at the shooting of the series and an important scene where her character confronts Mehta. Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the response Scam 1992 has been receiving?

This series deals a lot with finance. So Pratik, Hansal and I thought people would watch it in parts. But people actually binge-watched it. We found this very surprising.

It has been phenomenal. Now people are singling us out and praising our work. They are taking names. So we are very happy.

We can’t believe it, honestly, because this is the third week! Generally, a web-series gets appreciated during the first weekend or, at the most, the first week. But three weeks and it is still being appreciated! It’s awesome! 

Sucheta Dalal and Shreya Dhanwanthary

How did you come to be cast in such an important role as Sucheta Dalal?

I am a huge fan of Hansal Mehta. I love his work, be it Shahid (2013), Citylights (2014) or Omerta (2018). So I always wanted to work with him. When I came to know that he would be coming up with this web-series for which he needed someone for the lead part, I immediately asked if I could audition. Indu Sharma from Mukesh Chhabra’s company invited me to do so.

The scene which is shown in the teaser, which is a 10-minute scene and was seven pages long, was my audition scene. Maybe I did well in it and that’s why I am talking to you now (laughs). I got on to the project in March [2019]. We then prepped for five to six months and started shooting in September. We got a good amount of time to get into character. That’s why I think you can see our hard work on the screen.

How was it working with Pratik Gandhi? The two of you play each other’s nemeses. The scene where you confront him in an interview has received a lot of attention.

We had three or four scenes together in total. I think two scenes got cut from the final version. Even when we didn’t have scenes together, we used to meet every other day and talk, when I used to shoot in the evening and he used to shoot in the morning and vice versa. We knew each other quite well.

Pratik Gandhi as Harshad Mehta

We were very excited to shoot that confrontation scene, which has been praised a lot. Even the scene where Harshad tries to bribe Sucheta and asks her to work with him is getting a lot of praise. It was damn fun. Both of us knew this was a huge opportunity, so we wanted to give it our all.

You said you have always been an admirer of Hansal Mehta. This was your first project with him. How was it like to be directed by him?

I would like to borrow something Pratik says about him: he is very much an actor’s director. He gives you so much space, freedom and respect. Initially, we didn’t know what to do. But he told us to do whatever we wanted, and if he felt the need to calibrate anything, he would talk to us. He trusts you. He even told us he didn’t want robots and expected us to do our homework and do our job. He said he knew he had cast the right people.

Hansal Mehta’s son, Jai, is co-director of the series. Is he similar to his father?

No, they are very different in how they handle stuff, but they are similar in the amount of trust and freedom they give you. Jai even remembered on which shoulder I had placed my bag and how my dupatta was in a particular scene. He is very good with details. Jai was completely involved in the pre- and post-production. He was amazing. He is going to be the future.

Shreya Dhanwanthary

The show has 10 long episodes of which some parts got scrapped. How challenging was it to shoot for such an enormous amount of content?

It was enjoyable because we actually like working (laughs). We like going on the sets. That’s the thing because you don’t get opportunities that often. And here it was such a big opportunity where there was so much of freedom. So we loved it.

Looking back at your journey, how important is Scam 1992 to you?

I don’t quite like looking back. Hopefully, it will continue to be good from here onwards. I think it’s always important to look at what’s happening today. Right now Scam 1992 is happening and the response it is getting is phenomenal. The role I have played is great. What Pratik and I have done has also been appreciated.

We gave one-and-a-half years to this project. We have given it our all, and the fact that it is doing well is very humbling. This is the biggest so far, for all of us.

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