Name to know: Shweta Tripathi
Her powerful debut feature has Anurag Kashyap singing her praises
Compliments have a disconcerting effect on Shweta Tripathi (“I change the subject and talk about the weather”) but when praise arrives in the form of a phone call from Anurag Kashyap, gushing about her performance in her debut feature (and planning a celebratory dinner), elation overpowers every other emotion. Her stirring portrayal of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who has an affair with her married teacher in Haraamkhor (directed by Shlok Sharma), has bagged Tripathi another illustrious fan: her co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
For most casting directors, Tripathi belongs in Disney’s ebullient universe – she’s sprightly, rosy-cheeked, believes in happy endings and always takes a moral stand (fairness cream commercials are a no-no). While these qualities helped her get a foot in the door as Zenia in the teen-endorsed TV show Kya Mast Hai Life (back in 2009), the switch to an understated performance in Haraamkhor (currently in post-production), called for drastic unlearning.
In the midst of Tripathi’s new movie momentum, her childhood love for dramatics is kept alive by her theatre company allmytea productions. Their next offering, Cycle Wallah Michael (a children’s play about following your dreams), will be staged at the Summertime At Prithvi festival this month, followed by Under the Chestnut Tree, a satire on censorship, which premieres in June.
When asked about future projects (she finally plays her age, 28, in Sharma’s sophomore feature), Tripathi has a ready reference – “I’d love to play a dark character like Ellen Paige did in Hard Candy (2005),” she says. “Right now, I don’t want to touch anything that’s bubbly.”
This piece originally appeared in ELLE India’s May 2014 issue
Photograph: Sushant Chhabria; Styling: Nidhi Jacob; Make-up and Hair: Sunita Brace. Corded chiffon gilet, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna. Satin-jersey skirt, Pankaj & Nidhi