I relate to Draupadi: Srishti Srivastava

Star of many popular online videos, theatre actor and classical dancer, Srishti Srivastava took to dramatics nearly five years ago and has come a long way since. After winning the Best Supporting Actor award at META in 2018 for her role in the Mahabharata epic – Shikhandi, directed by Faezeh Jalali, she also played a small role in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy and more recently in John Britton’s play based on the writings of George Orwell titled, Whirlpool.

Shikhandi is one of the earliest known transgender characters in Hindu mythology. The recently concluded play that was staged at Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre, got Srishti reminiscing about the six months of rehearsals before curtains opened for the first show. “We’ve completed close to 30 shows and prior to the opening night, Faezeh told us to do whatever we wanted on stage to break the monotony. It was utter chaos during rehearsal when some started acting like machiwalis and others engaged in tomfoolery on stage,” she laughs.

Faezeh, says Srishti, directed Shikhandi when she was in school as a solo piece, where she also played all the characters. This is her second play with the director, her first being 07/07/07, where seven women play one girl – Reyhaneh Jabbari. “[For Shikhandi] we started training in Koodiyattam and Yakshagana dance forms, as Faezeh wanted this language through the show.” She then adds, “She first picked me to play Draupadi. But I ultimately ended up playing Amba and Tigress as well.” The character she relates to the most, Srishti says, is Draupadi. “She is Shikhandi’s sister but follows anything but the usual description as Faezeh portrays Draupadi as a total bad-ass,” she says. Elaborating on character resemblance, Srishti says, “She says whatever she wants to anybody and is not scared of anyone or anything.”

The 25-year-old actress plays contrastingly different roles, where Amba is a very “melodramatic” character and Tigress is a “sexual beast on the inside, who can’t wait to have sex with Shikhandi on her honeymoon.”

Like Srishti, many of the actors in the play also had multiple roles like Nikhil Murali, who played Drupada, Bhim and Bhishma as well. The main role of Shikhandi was played by the director herself. Some also played pandavs and kauravs. “Faezeh works a lot with transforming into different characters on stage, which gives you specific physicality for each character. When we started rehearsing for Shikhandi, and I started playing Tigress, she asked me to embody a tiger, which is the most challenging character till date,” she concludes.

First Published:
Jun 05, 2019 17:20 IST

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