Go Trotting! with Pallavi Sharda
Pallavi Sharda is an Australian actress and classical dancer of Indian origin, living in Mumbai and pursuing her performing arts dreams. An avid traveller herself, Sharada is all set to go on an international tour with Shruti Merchant’s theatrical musical Taj Express.
In an exclusive interview with 10YearItch, Pallavi Sharda talks about traveling in India and how it influences her both personally and professionally.
How does travel influence the work you do?
Immersing myself in new cultures and places inspires me to think outside the box. When I travel, I interact with people of all walks of life and the bubble which I often exist within in Mumbai bursts. I am reminded of the diverse feelings and experiences of human kind and as an actress it gives me material with which I can play when trying to create and get into the skin of different characters and moods. Being a dancer, the different rhythms and music I hear when I travel inspires me to move in unique ways and experiment with my dancing. Although I am a trained classical Bharathanatyam dancer, I am most comfortable in freestyle fusion mode – thus new beats are intrinsic to the way I use my body.
Have you been to any place while traveling where the people made a distinct impression on you?
North east – Assam and Meghalaya. The people were so friendly and interestingly very cosmopolitan, something I really did not expect. I also enjoyed the fact that women in this region are so empowered, they were always visible at the forefront of a family home as well as family business, something refreshing in the Indian context.
Can you think of any movie that has influenced the way that you view a city or region?
So many mainstream Hindi films, particularly those in the style of Mr Yash Chopra, have been set in the rural areas of Punjab and espoused Punjabi culture and familial values. My father is Punjabi and my paternal grandparents came from Gurdaspur and Hushiarpur. While I have never visited those exact places, my time spent in Punjab has had a certain romance to it because it is home to so many of the films I love as well as being the home of my forefathers.
What is your idea of a perfect holiday?
Going somewhere with mesmerizing scenery, crisp fresh air and warm people. I most prefer the far north and far south of the country. It’s where I think, despite their relative isolation, people are most cosmopolitan and have developed distinct idenities linked closely to their land and geographical surroundings.
Which are your top three destinations in India?
Having trained in Bharathanatyam, South India and the sounds of a Carnatic orchestra are very close to my heart. I love going to the south because I really feel a sense of spirituality permeates the region, be it in professional or personal encounters.
Kerala is currently my favourite place in India. Goa is a natural favourite given the close proximity to Mumbai and the ease of getting there. It is almost an instant escape from the chaos of my daily life.
I spent a magical 5 days in Leh in 2009. It was before the peak season had kicked off and everything was quiet and calm. Waking up amidst white snow capped peaks every morning was surreal and really transported me to a new state of being. The world’s problems became meek and far away when I was in Ladakh.
What was your most recent travel experience?
I just spent 4 days in Kerala. Walking the quaint streets of Fort Cochin, watching a mesmerizing Kathakali performance, cruising the backwaters on a houseboat in Allepey, lunching in Varkala and enjoying a secluded patch of Kovalam beach at a private beach house. It was definitely the most incredible trip I have made in India to date, so peaceful and with a wonderful mix of relaxation and culture.
And where do you want to go next?
I would love to spend time in the far north, in Rishikesh and surrounding areas. I have been very keen to try some outdoor sports while in India and white water rafting is on the top of my list. I am also about to embark on an adventure in Varanasi as my new movie SAVE YOUR LEGS will take me there.. hopefully I’ll get some time to practice yoga and soak in the rich history of the city.
Which is your favorite Metro? and why?
I am biased towards Mumbai because now it is my adopted home and has brought me close to a large pool of talented and worldly individuals. My home in Bandra has become a creative solace for me and I am blessed with beautiful tree-lined streets and an eclectic bunch of people when I step out. South Bombay is enriched by history and architecture that evokes a nostalgia that I find comforting whenever I am there. I feel like I am walking through a European Latin Quarter when I roam Colaba and Kala Ghoda, something I love to find in every city I visit!
What do you always take with you when you are on a trip?
I don’t really need much with me when I travel, in fact I try and let go of things which are routine for me. I like to keep my phone and macbook with me – but they often stay switched off in my luggage when I am some place new, otherwise it is difficult to let go of everyday life and work and truly engage in the present moment and experience new things. A good book also comes along, but my experience has been that even that remains unopened most of the time, as I am busy walking around or discovering a new place. I just know that the perfect shady tree or patch of sandy beach will come along on the day I am not carrying it!
Your best piece of travel advice?
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the humdrum of our daily lives and forget what the adrenaline rush of a new experience feels like. Often months and years will pass by and a person has not explored a new place. No matter how difficult that first step is, the entire process and experience will always be rewarding and a source of personal growth. So just get up and go!
Save Your Legs – an Australian comedy feature film about three Aussie blokes with a dream, and an Indo-Aussie girl with her head on her shoulders.
Taj Express – Shruti Merchant’s theatrical musical about to go on international tour.
Love, Breakups, Zindagi – a modern day romcom in which the age old saying that ‘opposites attract’ is made defunct through a series of dysfunctional relationships.
Dus Tola – a situational comedy set in the village of Sonapur in which Pallavi plays Geeta, the village dance teacher who admires Shankar Sonar (Manoj Bajpai).