Shweta Tripathi has slowly and steadily made a mark in the industry. Despite not being a part of mainstream Bollywood movies, the actress only has exceptionally good and content-driven projects in her filmography, from Masaan to Mirzapur. In the coming days, she will be seen in a sci-fi fantasy film Cargo, Mirzapur season 2 and an unnamed movie based on the transgender community. The actress also wants to turn into a producer and is working hard towards it. She will also be leading an acting workshop for the LGBTQ+ community and did not think twice before taking up the task. From explaining her quirky Instagram handle to talking about her love for Killing Eve, Shweta bares it all in this interview.
I have interviewed you twice before, but I keep forgetting to ask you why your Instagram handle is "Batatawada."
Unlike my projects and characters, which have layers, my username "batatawada" is as basic as Shweta, which is a very common name. So, when I was looked for Shweta Tripathi, I could not get it, because, obviously, everything related to Shweta was taken. During my childhood, I did a workshop, where there was an architect whose email id was "daalfry." So, I was very fascinated by the creativity. I thought my Instagram handle would be something that nobody has ever kept before. And that is how "batatwada" happened.
Recently, Ujda Chaman and Bala came out on the same lines as your film Gone Kesh. Did you feel bad that your movie did not get noticed as much as the other two?
When you do a project, you know the scale of it. When there are no big producers, or Godfathers, or surnames involved, it is mainly the story and talent that you are banking on. Talents of musicians, editors and everyone else put together. We are pretty aware of what we are making.
Bala had started shooting after us. We knew there was a similar script in the market, but ours dealt with a condition called alopecia, which is very different from the subject of their films.
Were you happy that you guys came out before the other two?
Thankfully, we came out before theirs. It doesn't matter which film is small or big. But the novelty is always with the first one. Even though millions of people do not know about it, but our conscience is more important. But it feels good that we did before it anyone else.
Do you feel the society is still not open to watching a movie led by a woman even if it is on the same premise as that of a movie led by a man?
Not just in Bollywood, even internationally, it takes more efforts for a woman to make a mark. It is changing slowly, especially because of OTT platforms.
You need to start seeing projects irrespective of the gender. A good example is this series called Killing Eve. You watch it irrespective of the gender of the actors because it is so interesting. There will a difference in flavour between a story led by a man versus a woman. We should not be THAT gender-neutral. But producers and especially, the audience, needs to start seeing stories without thinking about whether it is led by Farhan Akhtar or Priyanka Chopra.
Yes. Have you watched Fleabag? it is from the same writer as Killing Eve.
Very interestingly this conversation happened because Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator of Killing Eve and Fleabag) is co-writing the next Bond movie. Somebody asked Daniel Craig why they got a female writer. He replied saying that Phoebe has just won Emmys and got the best awards in writing so why should that question be even asked. If it were a guy writing for a female story, you would not have even asked. So, that is why we need more Daniel Craigs. It will happen slowly but at least it will happen.
Tell me something about your next film Cargo. I missed watching it at MAMI but from the promo it looks promising. It has elements of sci-fi and spirituality. What is that about?
Cargo is Aarti's debut film. She thinks in sci-fi, and her world is very fascinating. I want to work with her again and again. Vikrant and I play astronauts on a spaceship. And when humans die on Earth, they come to our spaceship and we heal them. We extract their soul and then their body goes to a higher realm.
In an interview, you revealed that you are looking forward to producing projects. What is the kind of stories you want to produce?
I want to produce stories that make you think, and that push your buttons. When you are making a project, whether it is five-minute-long or eight-hours-long, you are asking people for their time. So make it worth their time.
So, how far have you come on this front?
We are in talks. I have found the people I want to work with.
How was it shooting for Mirzapur season 2?
It was excellent shooting for Mirzapur. It is the most challenging role I have ever played. I had nightmares shooting for it. But the cast and crew were so good that everything was worthwhile. Because while you are shooting you are thinking about revenge and bloodshed.
You will be conducting a free acting workshop for the members of the LGBTQ+ community. What prompted you to take this up?
Faraz (Faraz Arif Ansari, filmmaker) is a dear friend. And we are supposed to be working on a feature together and when he asked me, I obviously said yes. Interestingly, when I said yes to the workshop, I got offered a part, which has something to do with the transgender community.
You have made brave choices. One of your scenes in Mirzapur was called controversial...
The scene was not controversial. If it was controversial, I would have taken full credit. For example, Haramkhor, when I was shooting for it, people said that was bold of me. And I asked them why they thought so. For me, it was a love story of a girl who did not get care and attention from her family. When she looks up to her teacher for affection, things obviously go south. I would not call that bold. Jhansi ki Rani is bold.
But has a kind of role ever come to you where you drew the line and said no?
Those kinds of roles don't come to me. Thankfully, I have built so much credibility that people know the kind of stories I am interested in.
You have been married for over an year now to Chaitanya Sharma? How is married life treating you? Would you recommend getting married to others?
I would recommend it to other people but only if you find the right person. Age does not matter. I was 33 when I was got married. Everyone in the world wanted me married when I was 26 or 28. If you don't find the right person, I think it is amazing living a solo life. A partner doesn't have to be a husband or a wife. A partner could be anybody.
How do you see your journey in the industry so far? Are you content? Is the struggle still there?
Struggling will always be there no matter how many films we do or how many followers we get because of the work that I want to do. But the real fun is in that only, fortunately, or unfortunately. But in a lot of ways I feel more settled. Now, I know what I wanted to do. Earlier, even when I did a Masaan or a Haramkhor, it happened subconsciously. Now, I am more aware.
I know my kind of people now. It might mean lesser eyeballs but I'd rather be at peace and at home than being frustrated because of a project that I didn't want to do.
What are other future projects that we should know of?
Every project you hear of mine, takkar ka hoga.
Would you like to do international projects?
I would love to do international projects. In fact, I just met an agent who represents internationally. I don't want to limit my storytelling to a certain segment or language or platform. I even want to do Amazon's audiobooks. I am so jealous of Ali Fazal right now (chuckles) because the kind of work he is doing internationally is great. I want to explore as much as possible.
Will The Trip season 3 happen?
I think even if it comes out the cast will be different.
Are you gonna be a part of it?
I doubt I will be a part of it. I am happy I did it. I made some close friends in the industry thanks to the first two seasons of The Trip, Mallika Dua, Amyra, Sapna and even Richa Chadha. That is our gang. I won't do The Trip 3 unless you give me the writing control. I want to raise the bar with every project I do.