Shriya Pilgaonkar has successfully established a career in the film industry by playing various roles. But even today everyone remembers him fondly as the chirpy of Shah Rukh Khan, Dilliwali’s friend Neha from ‘Fan’. And for the actor, the film and his character are very close to his heart. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, he opened up about his experiences and memories of being a ‘Fan’, working with SRK, and more.
‘Follower’ completes five years of release this month. How do you look back at this film today?
‘Fan’ will always be a special film for me because it was my first Hindi film with such a big production house. To be able to share screen space with Shah Rukh Khan, of all people, I still feel very surreal to myself. The ‘follower’ will always have a special place in my heart.
Looking back on this film, I feel like he tried to tell a story that was very different compared to the others. It was a challenge for SRK to play these completely different characters – one actor like him, another, a fan. It has given the filmmakers the courage to do things differently and to be able to make certain decisions. Some of them worked and some did not. However, looking back, I feel like one has to be able to take risks and the film has done just that. I am proud to be part of the ‘Follower’.
Take us to the time when you were first exposed to the film. How did you react?
I had been filming for a few months back there, and sometimes I didn’t even know which film I was looking for. There have been many rounds and workshops with different actors.
It was a good practice to train myself to explore it in various scenes. Maneesh Sharma happened to look at some of the events I had done for other jobs and thought I deserved the role. When I received a call saying they were considering a movie starring Shah Rukh Khan in it and wishing to meet me, I couldn’t believe it at first. I told myself I was not very happy because I saw how things could be. It only came in when I went to the shooting sets. I was so happy! It still feels unbelievable to me sometimes.
How was your first meeting with Shah Rukh Khan? Are you scared of him?
Before I met him on the ‘Fan’ sets, I had a clash with him in the studio where I was assisting in the film. My supervisor had taken me with him for some work and when he saw him and went to talk to him, I was there with him, so he let me know. To me, SRK is not just a star; I have always really enjoyed watching his conversations. You’re so smart! All in all, he is a person who is interested in many other things.
I love the fact that you love to read. Many of our conversations were about books. For me, it was more fun to see what kind of person he was than anything else.
I was not afraid at all; he made me very comfortable. It was a very collaborative effort on the sets. Her beauty lies in the fact that she makes everyone feel special and important.