Actor Shweta Tripathi Sharma on playing a girl with alopecia in her latest role
Whether it’s Anjali in The Trip, Golu Gupta in Mirzapur or Shaalu in Masaan, there is spunk and energy that permeates all of Shweta Tripathi Sharma’s characters. Talking to the actor makes it obvious where is comes from. On being congratulated for the response to the trailer of her next release, Gone Kesh, which hits screen this Friday — she lets out an excited squeal followed by genuine thanks. After nine films, Tripathi Sharma’s love for her work is evident. “I am one of those who will not do anything and just sit at home if I don’t like the work coming my way. I want to do a project with the right intentions — not money or popularity or to be busy. I’m not even concerned about being “out of sight, out of mind” because if that’s the motivation then I won’t give my 110% to the work. Whatever project I may be doing, I have to bloody well give it you 200% otherwise [there is] no point in doing it,” she shares.
In some ways, her character in Gone Kesh, Enakshi is similar to Tripathi Sharma in real life. “I have had a simple life. I have amazing support from family, a great set of friends; financially and emotionally, I have been quite balanced,” says the actor. When she read the script written by Qasim Khallow, Tripathi Sharma was bowled over with the beautiful handling of the delicate subject. “The emotions and the relationships between Enakshi and her parents and her friends are the heart of the film. I realised that with any illness or condition, physically one person goes through it but their family and loved ones also go through it with them. It is this journey of her family and friends. Her dream is to become a dancer. But with alopecia, the way you perceive yourself changes; you don’t want to step out of the house. You know people will be staring, pointing, taunts and jokes will come your way. This drives people into a shell, which is heartbreaking,” she emphasises.
Alopecia is a disease that attacks the hair follicles and causes hair to fall in large quantities forming bald patches. “I had no idea such a disease even existed. That’s when you feel so ignorant and small,” she confesses. She was ecstatic to be offered this project. “I kept thinking how cool this opportunity was and how many actors would even get a chance to do something like this! I was, in fact, thankful that this role came to me and nobody else. When I got to know that the poster would have [me bald], I was even happier because it’s easy to look fabulous in a poster with a great photographer, a stylist and a whole team behind you. Yeh sab karne mein zyada mazaa hai.”
Playing a character as she ages in the film brought new challenges for the actor. “I got a chance to play a girl who grows up as the film progresses. It was challenging to understand how she deals with her condition and how it changes her. It showcases her journey from denial to acceptance.” Along with any film that deals with a medical condition comes a responsibility to portray it realistically and she was aware of that. “People who have alopecia should see the film and be able to relate to it. Thankfully, after watching the trailer, my Instagram was flooded with messages and photos from people suffering from the condition. Also, for people who knew others who had alopecia, they felt guilty because somewhere they had been insensitive. I was happy because as a society if we accept our faults and be more sensitive and supportive towards each other — alopecia or not — it’s great! Let’s just be there for each other,” she implores, the actor.