Save the Tigers and Shaitan actress Deviyani Sharma is riding high on the success of both her debut shows. The Delhi-born actress, who is completely against the concept of casting directors, spoke to The Pioneer about her show Shaitan, playing roles that are poles apart, working in the South Indian film industry, her urge to play characters with substance, and more.
K. Ramya Sree
Shaitan, helmed by Mahi V Raghav, is performing successfully in Disney+Hotstar. Although it received a lot of flak initially, the show tried to cut the edge with its gripping content, which is very new to the Telugu audience. One of the leading ladies of the show, Deviyani Sharma, is hopeful that audiences will accept her and her character Jayaprada in Shaitan just like they accepted her in Save the Tigers.
Although Save The Tigers released first, the young actress, speaking to The Pioneer, confessed that she signed Shaitan first. So, technically, Shaitan is Deviyani’s debut show.
In both shows, the actress plays two completely different characters. While in one we see Deviyani as a modern mom and a feminist Rekha, in the other she is spotted as a village belle going completely de-glam, trying to take vengeance for her family’s loss. And it was her conscious decision to choose these two roles, which are poles apart, because the audience will get to know her potential as an actor and she will avoid being typecast. “Playing Jayaprada was very challenging. Rekha and Jayaprada have some emotions attached to them. Jayaprada is strong yet vulnerable. Rekha was strong. It was really difficult for me to get into the skin of Jayaprada because that character is not something I resonate with or connect with. Even in our daily life, we do not come across people like her and playing such characters takes a toll on your mental health as well,” shared the actress.
For a debut project, choosing a de-glam role (Jayapradha in Shaitan) is a risk in itself, and being new to showbiz, she took on a big challenge, we must say. Asked what made her choose that character, the Delhi beauty responded, “Jayaprada has a certain innocence to her. You will feel empathy for her until she comes out of her comfort zone. When I auditioned for it, I was a little hesitant, especially with the last scene and the rape scene. I was a little sceptical as to how the director was going to film it and how people would receive it. It is a situation-based boldness, and I was also worried about being typecast. I wanted to take this because there is a ray of emotion that Jayaprada carries. From being vulnerable to being extremely bold, the graph was high. It has an amalgamation of all emotions, and as an actor, I thought it would take the best out of me.”
Because it is a de-glam role, the actress struggled even more to put on and remove the make-up, which consumed nearly three hours of her time daily.
Deviyani’s craze and passion for acting began in her childhood, where she would imitate some of the popular heroines of those times and tell her mom that she wanted to be an actor after she grew up.
“I wanted to try for Miss India, but I got rejected because of an inch of height difference. So, I started doing theatre, followed by a few ad films. I have worked behind the camera for a few shows. I have given auditions in Mumbai as well. I believe an artist believes in no language. I have been lucky enough to get my first break in Telugu, and I want to make my debut in my language also,” shared the actress.
Furthermore, being bluntly honest about the south and the Hindi cinema, she shared, “People here in the south are more respectful. Even if you are making your debut, you get to meet the director and talk to them, even if it is for five minutes, unlike in the Hindi industry, where we do not even get one chance to meet the director. It is through the casting director that we have to meet the director, and I am against the concept of casting directors. Sometimes people do not make it despite having potential because of them. It is all very manoeuver and favouritism thing that creeps in with casting directors. South is very grounded; that’s why it is going very high, and they are very open towards new talent. I think people have a good future in the south Indian film industry.”
Coming back to Shaitan, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the show for its language and abusive content after the trailer launch. Now that the show has been released on Disney+Hotstar, people have understood why it has adult content, because the script was demanded and now it is one of the successful shows that is being premiered on the OTT platform.
Deviyani, talking about her most memorable moments shooting for Shaitan, said, “Our line is so uncertain that until we make a mark and are known, we won’t get our next project. So this was the feeling I was having every day while shooting for Shaitan. All the people became family eventually because we go back to them every day and shoot together for months, so you will develop an emotional connection with everyone, so the whole process has been very memorable. I’ll give you an example: while we were shooting the rape scene, which was very intense, me and the co-actor started laughing because we became very comfortable with each other. But it came out very aggressive on screen.”
The actress confessed that she is a big sucker for crime genres. She says she thoroughly enjoys watching crime genres over anything else. Apart from crime and action, patriarchal stories also grab her attention. The actress is hoping to get some meaty roles in the future, as she is always hungry to perform. “I prefer to be part of projects that have something to do with me rather than being part of big projects in which I am just there doing nothing. Right now, I have Save the Tigers, Part 2. I want to make my debut in cinema too, but I want to do projects that have substance,” shared the actress.