Sunday, December 20, 2020

‘I’ve been in the industry for a decade, but nothing mattered until Scam 1992’

From a Telugu movie, to TV advertisements, and web-series like Ladies Room and The Family Man, Shreya Dhanwanthary was still waiting for a role to reckon with.

First Role: Playing college girl Shailu in Telugu film Sneha Geetham (2010)
Standout Act: A Viral Wedding (Eros Now/Prime Video), Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story (SonyLIV)

“I have been in the industry for a decade, but nothing mattered until Scam 92,” says actor Shreya Dhanwanthary, 29, who plays the complex role of the journalist Sucheta Dalal in the Hansal Mehta-directed Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story. “I did Ladies Room (TV miniseries, 2016) with Yash Raj Films, and it became a big thing, and was critically acclaimed, too. But people didn’t put together that it was the same girl from a Samsung phone TV commercial and the lesbian rock chick from a Fastrack commercial. I would chameleon-ise into various roles,” she says. Then came the 2019 film Why Cheat India opposite Emraan Hashmi, and, a role in the much-talked-about Manoj Bajpayee-starrer web-series Family Man (2019), “but things shifted in a phenomenal way only since Scam 1992,” says the Hyderabad-born Dhanwanthary, whose miniseries A Viral Wedding, which she wrote and acted in, released this May.

At school, she would perform on the stage from the age of four. A self-confessed nerd, who “gets all her information from books, the old-fashioned way”, she would balance science and the performing arts. She started modelling while pursuing an engineering degree from National Institute of Technology, Warangal, “to pay the bills in Mumbai”, otherwise, she says, she was “a useless model”. While juggling fashion weeks and advertisement shoots, she signed her first Telugu film Sneha Geetham (2010), where she plays a college girl Shailu. “The director held a statewide talent hunt, so I applied. It helped that the director (Madhura Sreedhar Reddy) was an alumnus of my college. I was inexperienced, didn’t even know how to apply make-up,” says Dhanwanthary, who then signed the Telugu-film Josh but it was released in 2009, a year before Sneha…

Dhanwanthary had been waiting for a role like the one she played in Scam 1992. “People had told us that everything the show was offering — the premise, the unknown cast, etc., a lesser-known streaming platform — would work against it. But I am so glad that Scam broke all those notions, debunking the myth that only a certain subject can work on the OTT spectrum, or what a star cast needs to look like,” says Dhanwanthary, who will next be seen in the web-series Family Man Season 2 and Mumbai Diaries 26/11 (Prime Video).

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