A relatable face on Indian television, Priyamvadda Sawannt wooed and won hearts of fans on the small screen playing the girl next door Simran in Meri Doli Tere Angana. The year was 2007 when the young actor captured the imagination and love of the nation in sitcoms like Bhabhi and Antariksh. One may argue that playing Simran was her calling card in the world of Indian television as the lead actor. It’s been an interesting journey for the actress who has won laurels, critical acclaim and recently bagged the Best actress Gold Award for ‘You and Me’ at the Virgin Spring Cine Fest and the Global Independent Film Awards in 2018. The short film ‘Adhure Poore se Hum’ whose English name is ‘You and Me’ has won several international awards and critical acclaim not just in India but spanning across the globe.
First break, early days and acting aspirations:
Describing herself as a Mumbaichi Mulgi, the Andheri born and Dombivali-hailed Priyamvadda was raised in the hurly-burly city of Mumbai which she calls her ‘jaan’, a place which catches humans in the raw. “In college, I was keen to walk the ramp since modeling has always occupied my mind and took part in several inter-college fests. While ads were something that I was always wanted to do but soon realized the need to not only learn but hone my acting skills is a life-long process,” the young actor quips.
While doing her BA in Sociology at VG Vaze College in Mulund, it saw her genesis sitting in acting workshops helmed by the revered theatre guru, playwright and the late veteran actor Satyadev Dubey -Ji and Rekha Sabnis-ji. “The workshops helped me to grab the main lead in a play directed by Rekha-Ji which was a great learning experience to understand the intricacies of acting. I was also part of acting workshops helmed by Chandrakant Kulkarniji and Waman Kendre-Ji,” she says.
“It’s been a beautiful journey as a model and an actor laden with struggle as life is a mixture of everything under the sun which prepares you for challenges in the profession. Struggle is part and parcel of life for if there is stagnancy, decay creeps in. Every single day is an ongoing challenge that keeps one on the toes and the struggle is a constant reminder to keep learning and believing in the adage of being an actor till I breathe,” she says.
Priyamvadda who also holds a post-grad degree in advertising secured her first break modeling for Liberty shoes, the ad which she believes was an awesome experience swaying to a small dance sequence and a challenge completed successfully.
Being Simran, good content vs hit shows
Playing Simran on the popular telly show, Meri Doli Tere Angana came into her kitty as a surprise and at first, thought was a prank call played by someone. She says, “I didn’t approach anyone for the show. I was relaxing at home and thinking about work one day when the phone suddenly buzzed. Someone called Shivani from Zee TV approached me and they happened to see the audition rushes that I gave to play the main lead in one of the shows which didn’t work out. I was elated thinking, ‘bhagwaan ke ghar der hain ander nahin naaji.’ Priyamvadda says with playfulness on her first stab in playing the leading role on TV.
The down-to-earth actor believes that irrespective of the medium or language, be it Marathi or Hindi, good content is always lapped by the audience and it is a great feeling to be part of meaty projects.
Today, there is a hue-and-cry on the state of Indian television, unlike the glorious 90s where strong content was churned and rifled with powerful roles sketched for actors. The down-to-earth Priyamvadda says, “I strongly believe that the audience’s taste has changed over times since in the past, shows were considered as milestones on TV. The Doordarshan days was marked by thinking minds where people were not like Priya Tendulkar’s Rajni chal padi toh follow the trend. People never followed trends in the heydays.”
“The past is the past which we should never hang on to. We must be able to think differently and nurture novel thoughts that will benefit society. The show, ‘Turning Point’ in the 90s that saw a few episodes hosted by Mahesh Bhatt was a landmark in Indian television’s history. Unfortunately, we don’t want to try novel things and today, many directors are making short films which are not seen by many people.”
For the actor, TV channels must consider giving one hour slot dedicated to new filmmakers that will pave the way for creating the platform to usher quality shows. She rues, “Everyone is desperate for hit shows and the attitude is to mint money which seems to be the sole reason they are in the business. Agree that we should all eke a living but that shouldn’t be the sole consideration, right!”
Priyamvadda says with a whiff of reason, “The first reason to be here is creativity in business but unfortunately we lack the conviction to make good work. We have become trend followers rather than trend setters and remixes is given prominence rather than trying to be uniquely creative. I am not saying everyone but most of us lack patience where our lives are tamed by 2 minutes maggi noodles be it TV or films which is the mirror image of society.”
She believes the entire thing whittle down to the way children are brought up in society to become doctors or engineers in this mad rush to make the moolah where creativity goes for a toss. “The most important thing is to be good human beings, instilling the right values in the mind to be able to lead a good life. Ultimately money will come. Our work reflects our values and injecting the right attitude will go a long way to make India the country we want it to be with less corruption in every sphere of life, not just films,” the actor avers.
Shows and films must be loaded with rich content that bears the imprint of great minds showcasing values like honesty as the pathway to success, she says. “Core strength in creating characters will make roles serving as reference points in future and it’s a challenge for great thinkers embarking upon it to overcome the tide.”
Hard work and perseverance always pay:
Priyamvadda Sawant is on a roll and her performance in Adhure Poore Se Hum has forced critics to sit and take notice with several awards such as Gold and the globally renowned GIFA Film Awards as best actress in 2018 coming her way. The actor says with a twinge of humility and philosophy, “It is very encouraging and important for your work as an artist to be hailed looking at the portrayal that won hearts. It’s the happiest feeling on earth and is an emotional high for me, Mile toh bhi acha na mile toh mehnat jaari karo kal miljayega. The most important thing is to have faith and be a better version as a human being.”
The Mrigank Dubey directed Adhure Poore se Hum has played an important role to boost the prospects of Priyamvadda where she lends credence by portraying various shades of acting. The versatile actor muses, “Such a beautiful question on the role that the film played in my career but tricky as well. See, it’s all about showbiz and talent but also good PR. I am yet to share the good news on Facebook or Instagram which is as bad per the film dictionary or showbiz bible since social media is important in today’s times. “Frankly speaking, the awards and recognition garnered on me as an actor have not yet been announced and not many know about it…“Toh abhi casting ho gayee hai awards ki bas telecast baaki hai.” The effortless gaze and ubiquitous charm with which she effortlessly switches from English into Hindi makes Priyamvadda at her natural best.
Bagging Adhure Poore se Hum:
On the outset, Priyamvadda considers herself lucky to bag Adhure Poore se Hum whose English name is You and Me that happened at a film fest where she says the maker Mrigankji approached her after liking her role in ‘God Knows’ which was also a love story. “I am thankful to my director and the creative team who strongly felt that I would do justice to the role. It was love at first sight after listening to the narration, fabulous dialogues coupled with both script and screenplay that made it easier for me to perform and emote on screen.
The dearth of funds shouldn’t deter filmmakers in exploring fresh and path-breaking subjects where perhaps crowdfunding can play a major role in executing good cinema on screen, she says. “It’s quite interesting to witness the power and support of commoners pitching through crowdfunding and case in point is the 2011 small budget film, I AM bagging the national award which showcases the need for all of us to explore novel ideas that will help pave the way for the new wave of cinema for the audience. Such brand of cinema should not only be nurtured at home but globally when we look at the slew of recognition, awards and accolades doled on‘You and Me’ that was selected under the short films category at the 71st Cannes Festival.” The short film also won big at the Calcutta International, Mindfield, Remi Film Awards, Cult Critic Movies awards, La Short Film Awards New York and City Indie Fest Awards.
Challenges of being an actor:
For Priyamvadda, the most challenging aspect of being an actor is to keep trying and striving till success doesn’t kiss one’s feet. Her motto is, ‘Acting till I am alive’ which not only showcase her mettle but an unrelenting passion for the craft. “I am always looking forward to delivering a good performance in doing quality and not quantity work,” she ostensibly says.
The actor who has modeled for numerous leading brands such as Kalash Oil, Vanita Mag, Amul and Tata Indicom believes that ads wield a huge power on society. “At the end of the day, it whittles down to both positive and negative aspects where perhaps propaganda in a positive way is downplayed to sell the product. Unknowingly, advertising helps to make up your mind in buying a product and this is what makes it so big.”
Films, theatre and small screen:
Being someone who has dabbled in various genres right from movies to ads, serials,and plays, it makes contrasting nuances for an actor to deliver. Priyamvadda says: “The difference lies in the various mediums while preparing for roles and in plays, for instance, there are several rehearsals but at the same time, the actor faces the string walks of no retakes. Performances in plays and screen differ since in the former, the actor should be audible to the person sitting at the last row while performing on the top whose voice should reach everyone. It’s the golden rule.”
“Serials bear a sharp contrast that carries a vice versa technique but the places shown makes the actor’s performance important as much as getting into the character’s skin. Put simply, the protagonist should always follow the writer’s and director’s vision that goes a long way in visualizing the character on paper that gets translated on the screen making it quite an interesting medium,” she says.
With this bang on attitude and passion, Priyamvadda Sawant is sure to tick off her bucket list while experimenting with various roles and pushing the envelope a notch higher to prove her versatility.