Think Shenaz Treasuryvala and you instantly visualise all around sunshine. Vivacious and chirpy, the ex-MTV VJ has been known to light up the atmosphere whenever she used to appear on the telly. However, when it comes to her movie outings, she is looking at characters that go beyond her ever-so-smiling and bubbly image. This is why even though she has been around for 6 years now; she is taking it easy without going overboard when it comes to Bollywood. Busy with multiple other roles that she is playing in the world of entertainment, Shenaz is all excited as she talks to Joginder Tuteja about her reasons for doing Radio, her journey over the years, and how she didn’t want to do anything that showcased her as a ‘Rich and bitchy’ or ‘sexy but innocent’ character.
A modern day love story about today’s couple – Is that the best way to describe Radio?
Yes, it is a modern day love story about relationships today and how they are not as simple and straightforward as they used to be in our parents time. ‘It’s complicated’ is people’s status on Facebook mostly and it’s definitely complicated for all our characters in Radio. The radio station is the backdrop; I play RJ Shanaya who is a crazy, fun loving girl. Shanaya is a Facebook addict and a die hard romantic. She is very girlish and finds it difficult to deal with her emotions when she falls in love with a colleague from work. The complication is that he has a lot of baggage including a beautiful ex wife who no longer wants to be his ex.
The complication is that he has a lot of baggage including a beautiful ex wife who no longer wants to be his ex
In the film, you get to act opposite Himesh Reshammiya. Were you convinced from Day One about picking up this project or did it require you someone convincing?
I fell in love with my character Shanaya. It was an opportunity to play a three dimensional character and not the run of the mill ‘Rich and bitchy’ or ‘sexy but innocent’ roles that I keep getting offered. I really liked the script. I identified with all the three characters on the page and for me script is king. If the script is good and the character inspires me, I’m ready to talk.
How did the interaction with Himesh and Ishaan (film’s director) go?
Himesh got me picked up from my home in Bandra and I met him and the team at his house. He made me listen to the music and I was sold. It’s his best album ever. He was so enthusiastic and energetic and so excited to make a good film, I needed no convincing. The director Ishaan Trivedi had a decent reputation. At that point I didn’t know how good he is with actors but now I realize it was a super choice. He’s been my favourite director so far, encouraging me and giving me the opportunity to really act and do my thing.
With Himesh as your co-star, did you find anything amiss because he doesn’t come from a formal acting background?
Nobody offered me a film with Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh or Ranbir; yes for that I would have rushed back
You have been a popular name on TV for so many years. You also had a nice start with Ishq Vishk opposite Shahid Kapoor. So, why are you seen so sparsely on the big screen? I am sure that over the years, offers would have come your way. What is stopping you from not signing projects by dozens?
Being a Bollywood actress was never my single and most overriding or crucial goal in life. In fact I never even thought about it. Ishq Vishk just happened. And after Ishq Vishk, I turned down so many roles as I didn’t like the script or the character didn’t inspire me enough. I wasn’t so keen. I wasn’t even living in India. I was shuffling between Hong Kong and Thailand doing one of my most fun shows called ‘Whatever things’ for MTV Asia. So, I was not even living in India when I’d get calls for films and I didn’t think any of the offers were worth coming back for. Nobody offered me a film with Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh or Ranbir; yes for that I would have rushed back (smiles).
What else was keeping you busy?
After Hong Kong I moved to LA where I was working on an international travel show for Discovery Travel Channel. That was really my big dream. To write, host and produce a show for the Travel Channel in the U.S. That was my careers highest point till date! The show was called ‘Culture Shock’. After the show got over, I moved back to India last year, signed Delhi Belly, Aagey Se Right and Radio.
Seems like you were back with a mission…
See, I have been so lucky to have so many interests and opportunities in my career. In addition to being an actress, I am fortunate to be an international travel host, a writer, and documentary producer and host. I have done so much career-wise which has not been solely dedicated to Bollywood and continue to do so. My interests are varied and as a performer, I continue to express myself in different mediums. I don’t want to limit myself to just Bollywood. I am so fortunate to be able to make a living expressing myself in so many ways so I sign what I really like and won’t take on anything unless I’m fully convinced.
On a parting note, one can’t help but ask this – Have you ever been a Himesh Reshammiya fan, whether as a composer or a singer?
Oh yes, who isn’t a secret fan of Himesh – the composer and singer. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I wasn’t. His tunes are so catchy and his lyrics are a guilty pleasure!