Actor Shreya Dhanwanthary says starring in director Hansal Mehta''s web series "Scam 1992 - The Harshad Mehta Story" gave her the opportunity to sink her teeth into a character, something "very assuring" for an upcoming artiste.
"Scam 1992" follows the life of stockbroker Harshad Mehta, played by Pratik Gandhi, who single-handedly took the stock market to dizzying heights, and his catastrophic downfall.
The 10-episode series is based on journalists Debashis Basu and Sucheta Dalal''s book "The Scam".
On the show, Dhanwanthary plays Dalal and recalls how she listed herself for the auditions the minute she heard Mehta is working on the project.
Dhanwanthary, who earned acclaim in Amazon Prime Video series "The Family Man" last year, gave an audition to a seven-page scene and knew the show would offer "immense scope" to her.
"Hansal was very clear, he said he didn't want to hire robots. He doesn't want to tell people what to do. He expected his actors to come on set prepared. That was so assuring," the actor told PTI.
She said she always admired Mehta's ability to chronicle human stories "beautifully" but when she started working with the "Aligarh" director, she understood his process of extracting the best from his actors.
"He told Pratik and I to not be caricatures. He didn't want any imitations. His focus was more on internalizing the performance so that we live and breathe the character. We worked on that for six to eight months and then went on floors."
The show, currently streaming on SonyLIV, happened to Dhanwanthary two months after the release of her Bollywood debut "Why Cheat India", starring Emraan Hashmi, in 2019.
For her preparation, the actor relied on archival footage, online research and a meeting with Dalal to understand finer nuances of the personality.
"The idea of being in this profession is so that you don't repeat yourself and put yourself in shaky grounds. I thought this role was doing all of that in a great way. It was a privilege to be playing her but was also so nerve-wracking."
While the actor's successful turn as an intelligence officer on "The Family Man" was widely noticed and her ability to go the extra mile found her the Mehta project, Dhanwanthary said she is still an "auditioning actor".
"People of a certain stature and definitely a certain surname afford to get scripts to decide if they want to do it or not. I don't think that exists for a lot of people. I hope going forward I get more opportunities to get something I can sink my teeth into."
The actor said being "dynasty based" isn't an industry-specific problem as it continues to be the mindset of many in the country.
The entertainment industry doesn't function on "meritocracy" and there''s more focus on how one looks rather than the craft, she added.
"They say ''give us the look, will take care of the acting''. It''s a scary mentality. I hope we all get opportunities because we can't sink our teeth into anything if we don't get a chance. "I'm grateful these wonderful filmmakers took a chance on me."
Produced by Applause Entertainment in association with Studio Next, "Scam 1992" is adapted by dialogue writers Sumit Purohit, Saurav Dey, Vaibhav Vishal and Karan Vyas. PTI