Aaditi Pohankar has been ruling hearts all over the country with her ongoing web series ‘Ashram’ on MxPlayer. In the web series, she portrays the character of ‘Pammi’ – a strong headed, young lady and a wrestler who dreamt big and made sure to not compromise towards the patriarchal and unjust ways of society.
Directed by Prakash Jha, the crime drama also features Bobby Deol, Tridha Choudhury, Anupriya Goenka and Adhyayan Suman in pivotal characters. In an exclusive chat with ETimes, Aaditi opens up about her journey in the series, and the kind of preparations she took for pulling off the character with perfection. She also opened up about her childhood days concerning the choices she made for becoming an actor. Here are excerpts from the chat with ETimes.
Being an athlete to an actor
On an opening note, Aaditi shared about her initial days as a runner, who never imagined about being an actor. “When I was a runner, I never ever thought about being an actor because I was really focused on sports. I wanted to go to the Olympics and I was working for it; I was looking forward to the Commonwealth at that point under 19. I even had my whole life planned based on that”.
I was just 15. I lost my mom, amidst all my plan-making stages. My mom always wanted me to be an actor. She wanted to see me on a bus hoarding – something like ‘100 on 100 – Aditi Pohankar’ – that kind of thing. But woh toh nahi ho paya…because I wasn’t that studious. So I decided now I will be on every other billboard all around town, and I will make my mom proud. This is why I started acting.
And as a kid, I used to do a lot of mimicry. And I used to watch play as a kid because my father used to take me to the theatre. So these things were somewhere getting kind of jigsawed. So when my first film ‘Lai Bhaari’ came, I remember the flyover on Bandra link road. There were huge billboards of my film because it was a huge movie at that point.
Losing out on roles
Well, of course. I mean, I auditioned like hundreds of them. And there were parts when I really thought that I would probably do this. I realised the more you hold it tight, the more it slips out of your hand…so when it comes to audition, I look at it like a practice and leave it and don’t let it get into my skin.
Acting as a form of lifestyle
I think acting has become like a life for me. Mostly what I have realised is that acting or cinema or theatre, for that matter is nothing but life and life is nothing but drama. I read somewhere that we all are desperately under rehearsed, and nothing else in life.. I think this makes it easy for me to perform when I’m on set, it doesn’t make a difference to me, because I’m pretty much doing that every single day of my life.
Exploring these prominent traits inside a woman by being ‘Bhumika’ in She and Pammi in ‘Aashram’
I was fortunate enough to get these scripts so that I could portray what I feel; this is what I have been feeling for a very long time because when we were runners also there used to be some kind of discrimination between a man and a woman always. Obviously boys are faster than girls no doubt, but what I feel is that more than just discrimination, there is acceptance of the discrimination.
You know, from the women of the world, there is an acceptance of it. As an actor, portraying ‘Bhumika’ the real twist is where she realises her power through sexuality; This is what makes this script so interesting, because that’s when she realises her self worth. And you just need to explore it, you need to understand it and you need to use it very tactfully in the sense of
jitna kam use karo na, utna impact zyada hota hain. You just have to be silent, steady, and calm.
Even if you look at ‘Pammi’, at one point, she was so driven by Baba, then she realised. And after that she would try to make noise you know, So now she has understood.. Okay, I really need to use the power which is within me, of course, she’s a wrestler, so she didn’t didn’t know better.
Dealing with mental health, setbacks and failures
Well, it might sound philosophical, but these words don’t exist with me like I don’t really look at anything as a failure at all because I think I’ve learned so much from it. If I fall I know that I’m gonna get up and start running again. After I fall, I know why I fell and I won’t do it again. So I think it’s such a blessing in disguise which is called failure.
So whatever I have, I make sure to give my hundred percent and then I leave it up to the directors I don’t even look at the monitor. My 100% is what matters the most.
Impactful scenes from Ashram
There are two scenes – one is where she comes to know that Baba is the one who’s done this to up. That’s one scene and second is, when she gets to know that something like this act has been performed and this has actually happened to her. Pammi was just in the best place or safety wise for that matter that she could have ever imagined because she was in the ashram. And when this happens to her she has no idea of why this has happened.
So I still remember Prakash Sir
ne kaha tha, yeh scene tumhe apne hisab se karna hain. Just forget everything else. I got so involved in the scene at one point that I just completely tore my quota, and it kept tearing and kept tearing. And I lost my sense of reality senses. I really felt what ‘Pammi’ could have gone through. And then she has that bath, you know, very rigorously like, she’s just like bathing, this has not happened with me.
Message for aspiring actors for aspiring actors.
I think, certainly there is one thing I practice, but I I don’t know if I’ve reached that level where I can really give those messages out. (Laughs)
But yes, what I’ve learned is keep pursuing and work hard. There is no other way out. And once you taste the success work even harder, so that you get even better..just be happy and chill out. Things do work out.