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The Work Experience Girl: actor Pallavi Sharda on Tom & Jerry and his trip to the movies

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‘Tom & Jerry’ actor Pallavi Sharda talks about his cinematic journey and why a live-action adaptation of a beloved series is personal

What does filming a live action movie with the world’s most famous cat and mouse look like? To actor Pallavi Sharda, this was unlike anything she had worked on earlier as the film had to be shot multiple times to help merge the traditional-style animation with the live-action scenes. So technically the titular characters weren’t even there. She jokes cheekily, Tom and Jerry were great divas, they didn’t even want to come to bed.

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Looking relaxed and ready for the camera during a video interview with The Hindu Weekend from her home in Melbourne, Sharda can’t wait for the whole world to watch the nostalgia Tom and Jerry feature, now in theaters across India. Set in New York City, the film sees Shardas’ character Preeta Mehta and her fiance Ben (Colin Jost, Saturday Night Live) ready to get married in a high society spectacle. The place, a luxury hotel, is also the home of iconic comic book enemies. Therefore, chaos, comedy, and camaraderie ensue, in equal measure.

Sharda’s relatives have nicknamed her the Work Experience Girl. I have been addicted to the experience all my life and am addicted to achieving what seems impossible. When you are a performer, you are free to access the archetype of this emotion, observes the actor, who has appeared in films such as Hawaizaada, Begum Jaan and Besharam. For her first job, she worked in a bookstore. While quickly graduating from college, she made sure to work during every break: she was even a clerk as a lawyer and a justice of the peace in community radio in Australia. The various roles cemented his ambition as an actor and his leap of faith moved to Mumbai.

Pallavi Sharda and Colin Jost in a still from the feature film Tom & Jerry

Pallavi Sharda and Colin Jost in a still from the feature film Tom & Jerry | Photo credit: Special arrangement

Family album

In a recent interview with NDTV, Sharda, 30, revealed how excited her father was when she was picked for the live-action adaptation, as her parents (both IIT alumni) were watching the show on a projector on the campus.

At the audition, she read for the wedding scene. [I was] yelling at Ben that we’re sitting on elephants. It was very easy for me to play an irritated Indian wife; we’ve seen them all or had a friend who was stressed out in those times. I’ve been in those situations where you have a heated argument in a big Indian crowd, but you also say Namaste, aunt in between, trying to be cool, she explains. Playing someone who is the worthy woman of the diaspora was important to her. Preetas was well educated if you are an immigrant family in Australia, USA or UK there is a big emphasis on that. Although she loves her family and cares about her culture, it is not as important to her as her love for her partner. She has her head firmly screwed on, probably more firmly than Pallavi!

The fashion theme makes Sharda cheer up. For her interview, the believing #LovedClothesLast opted for a pineapple polka dot two-piece set that she has owned since 2016. We usually saw a red one. lehenga with a bindi on the forehead, and so on [at Indian weddings]. But when it’s done with the wrong lens and the wrong gaze, it doesn’t look right. The Tom and Jerry The costume department was so collaborative to get it right. And since we were actually filming in London, we had access to Southall, she explains. For the film, a Sabyasachi lehenga was chosen to reflect the high society wedding look. Because Preeta is Punjabi, I made sure kaleera bracelets were used. I wanted those who understood the importance of it to appreciate that time and effort had been put into it.

in the meantime

Sharda has been busy throughout the pandemic. As soon as lockdowns were lifted across Australia, she took on a role in a comedy series about the coronavirus, Retrograde, which was filmed in a videoconference style. Although the Australian film industry is small and fewer films are being made, the quality of the script and technicians is top notch. That’s why people love to work here, including me! she concludes.

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