I was awestruck when Shabana Azmi came up and complimented me: Pallavi Sharda
How was it growing up in a country like Australia?
I think Australians are very open to learning about various cultures, which is why cultural communities there blossom together. I have been acquainted with cultures as varied as Greek, Lebanese and Malaysian. In school, we had students from different communities, and we’d all come together to celebrate the Chinese New Year, or for that matter, the Diwali.
One thing that kept you connected to your Indian roots?
There were obviously Hindi movies which would play in local theatres, but other than that, my training in Bharatanatyam – which I started at the age of three — strongly kept me connected to India. Every day, I would go to the dance class, clad in traditional Indian saree or a salwaar-kameez . There can’t be a bigger assurance than that of your origin and ethnicity.
When you returned, did India take you by surprise?
Yes! There were suddenly malls everywhere! I really enjoy going to the market, but then everybody was simply mall-hopping. It boggled my mind. And unlike the simplicity which was unique to Indians, everything looked similar – the brand of clothing, the architecture, even the conversation.
A childhood incident that had a strong impact on you…
I was once performing at a dance show in Melbourne. After it got over, Shabana Azmi, who was among the audience, came up and complimented me. I was awestruck. I had seen most of her movies, and had never imagined I would actually meet her some day. I knew that I wanted to be an actress and I told her that. She wrote to me a letter, wishing me well for the endeavour.
Did you pick any odd jobs while in high school?
I taught dance to a bunch of students, and I worked at a bookshop as a sales assistant to make some quick pocket money. Unlike here in India, such jobs aren’t looked down upon in Australia, but are considered necessary. It was a liberating experience. I felt confident about fending for myself.
Are you a gizmo person or do you face trouble navigating on your smartphone?
I wont say I am extremely proficient! I am the person who wishes that we still wrote long letters on notepads. I miss those days because my generation was the last one that wasn’t exposed to social media, and there was still that innocent exchange on paper. We still went to gardens and parks and rode our mountain-bikes. Now, kids are growing up on their iPads and Tablets. It’s insane.