With her role in ‘Shadisthan’ streaming on Disney+Hotstar, Medha hopes to make a mark as an actor
I was a shy and studious person in school; I think my mother’s gene (Her (late) mother Rachna Shankar used to choreograph dances and direct plays for small children in the apartment complex) started to kick in at college,” laughs Medha Shankar who plays Arshi, a 17-year-old to be married off against her wishes in her debut film Shadisthan streaming on Disney+Hotstar. Directed by Raj Singh Chaudhary, Shadisthan tells the story of a singer (Kirti Kulhari) and her band of musicians on a road trip with a conservative couple and their teenage daughter Arshi and the ensuing conflict of ideologies.
As a urban Indian middle-class girl, Medha says she could instantly connect to Arshi’s dreams. “Arshi’s pain is deep. She has aspirations of making a name for herself and make her parents proud, but they have other plans. I could relate to her angst and her whole emotional journey through this predicament, which started with fighting her parents, crying, pleading, running away and then finally surrendering to her fate. I could genuinely feel her pain and despair, and glide into her emotional headspace. I wondered what if my parents had done that to me. The movie is entertaining and discusses social issue,” she shares.
Medha Shankar (R) with Kirti Kulhari | Photo Credit: Special arrangement
Medha goes on to share about her struggle to assert herself. Hailing from a middle-class family in Noida, she trained as a Hindustani classical singer and actively participated in singing and dancing competitions. During her graduation, she auditioned for a short film. Although the film never released, the stint gave rise to new dreams. “I loved the creative process so much that I knew if I don’t give acting a fair chance, I will regret it for the rest of my life,” she recalls.
Her mother was encouraging but father was not too happy and asked her to first complete studies. Once she finished masters in Fashion Management from National Institute of Fashion Technology, she shifted to Mumbai to try her luck in the glamour world. A few modelling assignments for Coca Cola, Paytm and Big Bazaar followed but her heart lies in acting. “My aim is to be known as a good actor,” she says.
The opportunity to act came in the form of the role of a Mughal princess in Gurindhar Chadha’s British historical series Beecham House that released three years ago. Currently, she is shooting for web series Those Pricey Thakur Girls but she cannot reveal anything about the role. For now, she spends her time singing, writing scripts and listening to interviews of actors discussing nuances of acting. “Singing calms me down. It helped ease anxieties during the pandemic,” she reveals.
As for social media, Medha says, “I understand it plays is am important role for artistes to get noticed, but my feed on Instagram gets updated only weekly. My friends keep pushing me to do it, so I am changing,” she says. So the once shy and studious girl seems to have adapted well to make her dreams come true.
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