Meets, Pallavi Sharda
Peter Meets, Pallavi Sharda.
Pallavi Sharda is an Australian-Indian dancer (she is trained in Barantha Natyam, a major traditional art form of Indian classical dance) and actress. She has proven herself as a major Bollywood star where she regularly receives rave reviews for the embodiment of each character she portrays. Originally born in Perth, Australia, Pallavi had her dreams set on taking over Bollywood and Australia with her talents. After obtaining an academic scholarship in Media Communications and Modern Languages in Melbourne, Pallavi moved to Mumbai to pursue her dream. After moving to Mumbai in 2010, her dreams very quickly became a reality. Pallavi got a cameo role in Karan Johar’s ‘My Name is Kan’, and following this role, was crowned 2010’s ‘Miss India Australia’ in Sydney. After this accolade, Pallavi next starred in 2010’s ‘Dus Tola’ as Geeta, winning rave reviews form the ‘India Times’, as well as starring in her first Indo-American movie, ‘Walkaway’ which was released across the U.S. In 2011/12 Pallavi shone in her first theatrical role in the Bollywood musical ‘The Taj Express’ combining her skill of dance and acting. In 2016, Pallavi starred in her second Indo American film ‘The Lion’, where she acted alongside Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. In April this year, she won critical acclaim in her portrayal as a sex worker in ‘Begum Jaan’, as well as landing a lead role in Australia’s ABC’s medical drama, ‘Pulse’. No doubt Pallavi’s 2018 projects will thrill her audience worldwide.
I was fortunate enough to meet Pallavi on a quiet beach in North Goa in 2011. (We were attending a mutual friend’s wedding a few days after meeting). As we lay silently tanning side by side, I overheard her talking about the wedding to someone, a conversation quickly ensued between us and a treasured friendship was born over a few mojitos and sunscreen. I even had the all-too-short pleasure of being her date to ‘Day two’ of the wedding I adore the bones of this woman, whether it be her amazing humour, her willingness to do anything for a friend, her lust for life and passion for what she does, or her advocacy in improving the lives of Indians using the ‘base pyramid model’, focusing on Mother and Child and Sanitation matters. She is also a regular keynote speaker for ‘Asia Literacy’ in Australia, cross-cultural relations between India and Australia and women’s empowerment in India. Pallavi Sharda is a woman to watch, whether it be on screen or fighting for beliefs.
1. Do you have a favourite artist and what’s your favourite piece by them?
I love many Avant-Garde artists, in particular minimalisms and abstract works, but I really enjoy a lot of the work by Jean Mureau, his pieces allude to a mythology which reminds me of Hindu artistry mythological artistry which I grew up around, and I love your work.
2. What was the last exhibition you went to?
I last went to see and experience Yayoi Kusama’s, ‘Infinity Mirrors’, at the Broad in LA.
3. What’s your favourite book?
It’s a difficult question. I mostly enjoy works which explore a pathos in relation to a sense of place and belonging; both fiction and non-fiction. When I was younger I really loved The God of Small Things, A Suitable Boy and Unaccustomed Earth because they were by authors who spoke a cross-cultural heritage which I didn’t otherwise see widely represented in modern western literature.
4. Who’s your icon?
Too many people who I find inspiring to mention.
5. I know you are an accomplished actress and dancer, but do you like to dabble in a bit of painting every now and then?
I used to have a full artists workshop set up in my father’s garage, I still have my paints and easel. I had always thought that I would study fine art or something related to it, where the creativity of my mind translated directly into a physical depiction of some sort. (Sadly, it wasn’t the case!)
6. What influences you on a daily basis?
The community I grew up in makes it very important for me to make a valuable contribution as a storyteller – right now telling stories which don’t ‘other the other’ are what drive me.
7. What’s your favourite sound?
8. What has been the single most important event in your career so far?
The failure of all my ideas about what it would or should be like.
9. What do you hope your contribution will bring to your community?
10. What is the hope for your audience when they encounter your work?
That they share in the beauty and complexity of being of multiple heritages in this increasingly converging world.
11. Who has been the most influential person to you and your work?
I think my own journey and struggles have been the most influential in carving my approach to my work. I live a reasonably solitary life as an artist and often have to rely on my own self, judgement and mistakes to guide the choices I make.
12. If you could have dinner or a drink with someone, alive or dead who would it be?
I’d have Queen Elizabeth the 1st, Rock Hudson, Caravaggio and you. I think you, the Queen, Rock and I would have the lols, then Caravaggio could threaten our lives after getting wasted, or at least throw over the dinner table in a fit of rage.
13. Do you think an artist needs to be tortured to create?
No, but I definitely believe it mutates the process of creation.
14. What was the first piece of art you bought?
A traditional Madhu Bani painting, made by an artisan from Bihar, India.
15. Where’s your favourite space to get creative in?
The middle of a forest or by the ocean.
16. What’s next for you?
I am working on a memoir which tells the story of what it was like to grow up in Australia as an Indian and then go to India to follow my dream of becoming an actress as an Australian – and all the weird stuff that happened in between.
Thanks Pallu, Merry Christmas xx