You know Shruti Seth as the sweet girl next door. You’ve seen her play best bud to Kajol in Fanaa and then as the very smart matchmaker on Rishta.com. So we’re sure you were shocked and surprised by her scandalous avatar in Raajneeti. She is no more the cute girl, ladies and gents. Shruti Seth has arrived and how! But it wasn’t just her fans and audiences who were surprised but the critics too. Shruti wowed and went on to become one the supporting actresses who received immense acclaim for her small but impactful role. The critics couldn’t stop gushing and of course, the actress was stunned at the praise that came her way immediately after. BollySpice caught up with the actress as she was shooting for an upcoming film in Mauritius about Raajneeti. Shruti talked at length about the film, how life has changed and of course, Rishta.com.
Congratulations are in order; you have been praised for your role in Raajneeti. How does it feel?
Thank you! Well it’s quite overwhelming actually!
Your role was pretty small. So what made you agree to it and how did you land the role?
Well the fact that it was so scandalous! (Laughs) And it was something that was least expected of me to do as a character. Somehow I never saw myself being able to play the role. That’s what pretty much got me excited about it. It was just freaky.
What was Prakash Jha’s brief to you when he casted you?
Well actually, he just told me that there are a lot in smaller towns who are very ambitious. Kids from the city don’t even realize what people are willing to do to get a little piece of fame or power. So he explained to me that she has to be a girl who is from a small town but has big ambition. He wanted that coyness to be there. She wasn’t a confident girl who takes control. She’s allowing herself to be used because she knows exactly where she has to get to. They kind of know how to use their physicality’s and that is pretty much what he told me. There wasn’t really that much of a reference so to speak. I think Prakashji [Jha] was very clear about what he wanted. He managed to communicate that pretty well and I’m glad that I could do justice to the role.
What have people in and out of the industry been saying to you?
Well everyone has told me that they have been very shocked! (Laughs) That is the first thing. They never expected me to come out and do that. But they are all so happy. I feel, Roshni, its very important for any actor to keep shocking their audiences so that they stay awake and take notice of you. And I realized that I have been very fortunate that all the work I have done so far has always managed to get me a lot of appreciation. People have always the kind of work I have chosen but I wanted to do something that would wake up the actor inside me. I had started literally, sleepwalking through my work because I had gotten characters that were so close to my real personality. Everybody felt I was doing something that wasn’t coming naturally to me. And to do this, I know the kind of courage it took. And an incident that I will never forget is that Prakashji told me that I was his bravest actor and that was my biggest compliment. Luckily everyone who has seen the film has tried to track down my email address from my website, sent me emails praising my work and saying we’re so happy you did something that broke the mold. I sincerely hope I start getting meatier and interesting characters to play. Fingers crossed!
Would you say Raajneeti has changed your career? And what kind of offers are you now receiving?
I won’t say that yet because nothing has happened! (Laughs) But I would say yes, it has my perception of me. Because initially it was always the girl next door. I’m hoping I will be taken a little more seriously as an actor.
Were you a bit concerned that your role was a bit provocative and bold?
Concerned most definitely because it could have gone very wrong. The critics can be quite harsh and cruel. I knew it was going to shock the audiences a fair amount because no one has ever seen me in that kind of role.
Yeah it’s definitely very un-Shruti Seth-like!
Which is why when I met Prakashji, he said I want the most improbable person to play this role so that it has an impact. Because if I go for the general stereotypical character who look a certain way and had that image already, I have a feeling she would end up getting lost within the cast which is so huge! It is a really small role. So he said I need somebody who is going to come in and shock people and stay in their minds even though she’s only there for a few scenes.
Critics have called you “effective” and “brilliant.” Did you know your short role would gain such accolades?
Very honestly no! One thing I was I was absolutely sure of was that it wouldn’t go unnoticed. I knew it would either get a lot of flack or get a lot of praise. But I knew it wouldn’t go unnoticed because of the kind of character and the kind of scenes I did. But very honestly, I remember when I said yes to the role, for the longest time I had sleepless nights waiting for the day we would shoot and then when I had to dub for the film, again I had sleepless nights. And then close to release I said okay, it’s done and can’t be reversed so I hoped it would get me what I expected of it. And that is exactly what happened!
How was it working with Arjun Rampal? You worked closely with him of course.
Everybody in that film has just been spectacular to work with! They were very professional. Luckily Arjun was equally as nervous so both of us were keen to do this right otherwise its going to backfire on both of us. Prakashji told me that he would make the environment as comfortable for you but the point is, it’s not a love making scene, so it’s not going to be aesthetically beautiful. It is supposed to be disturbing. I want people to feel pity for these people that she is so driven by what she wants that she is not even realizing how she is allowing herself to be used or maybe she does know and she has traded her soul to the devil. So it was meant to be a dark disturbing scene which is pretty much what it was.
Rishta.com is of course also doing really well. Everyone talks about it and loves it…
Rishta.com is one work of mine that will be the closest to my heart! And it will be the biggest disappointment of my career because it did not get its worth. It’s tragic!
But out here in the U.S., people can’t stop talking about Rishta.com. Do you know that?
I know! All our fans from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, from all different parts of the world write in and tell us how much they love Rishta.com! And it so sad that the country we made it for did not take to the show. I’m not blaming the audience because I genuinely feel that a show like that would have not have gone unnoticed.
I love it Shruti!
Thank you Roshni! I can’t tell you every time someone says they watch Rishta.com, I become their fan! (Laughs)
The ladies are swooning over Kavi Shastri of course.
Yes, Kavi is quite a darling! (Laughs) But it’s just really sad that we all worked so hard. We all had such great expectations because we thought we were going to be part of a revolution in Indian television. But it just didn’t happen. It’s so sad. But honestly, the funny thing is, and this is a conversation that all of us have had, and we all agreed that we all said we are much happier having 10,000 fans around the world who understand and get the show, as opposed to the morons here, who have been stuck in a rut for the last 20 years watching the same kind of rubbish. They don’t deserve Rishta.com. It’s beyond their comprehension.
What is next on the cards for you?
Well I’m working on a film right now called My Friend Pinto which is produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali films. I play a bitchy wife to Arjun Mathur but again it’s such an exciting character to play because it is so far removed from the person I am that I am. I’m loving every minute, every scene that we’ve shot. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I can’t tell you, Raajneeti has seriously woken me up as an actor.
What message do you have for your fans?
For any person who is in front of the camera, it’s just you guys who make it every single minute so worthwhile. I get up in the morning and thank god that I chose to be an actor because of my fans!
You heard readers, the actress has arrived and is ready to wow you even more. If you thought you had seen her at her best in Raajneeti, Shruti is determined to prove you otherwise. Watch out for her!