From Assam to Mumbai: ‘Aarya’ actor Priyasha Bhardwaj on making it as an outsider

Growing up in Assam, acting was a distant dream for Priyasha Bhardwaj. But when she moved to Mumbai from Delhi about two years ago, her goal was simple: to become a character actor. The journey began with doing several commercials, and it was through these assignments that she managed to audition for the character of Soundarya in the Disney+Hotstar series Aarya, that is headlined by Sushmita Sen.

As Soundarya Shekhawat, Priyasha essays the role of Aarya’s sister. “Soundarya is one of the emotional anchors that pushes the narrative forward.” The series, a crime drama, begins with her character having the royal wedding in Rajasthan, and it ends with her character meeting a tragic incident.

“In a way, my character forms the arc in the series, it is beautifully written with a definite tone that is distinct from the other grey characters in the show,” she remarks.

OTT platforms, a blessing for outsiders

The online streaming platforms have been a blessing for the aspiring talents with no godfather in the industry. “Even if one ends up in a movie, you are mostly going to be typecast as the sidekick of the heroine with no flesh and blood. With a series however, the characters have more space on-screen, and are layered.” But the road to the set of Aarya wasn’t a cake walk. What worked was having precision and perseverance, says Priyasha.

Although the actor hails from the family of a theatre icon in Assam, the late Satya Prasad Baruah (a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee), the film industry wasn’t her dream profession growing up. Pursuing dance as a hobby slowly nudged her in the direction of performing arts. And later, theatre helped her honing the craft of acting.

She adds, “In an industry where actors are easily replaceable — as there are hundreds trying for the same job — there is always an uncertainty. You can be a great actor and yet not get the role. Now when one is considering you for a job, they not only look at your craft, but also see how many followers you have on Instagram, what your ‘saleability’ is and so on. It’s competitive and so much more than just acting. So, it is good to have a plan B and learn to accept rejection.”

Priyasha is currently shooting “lockdown ads” from home and eagerly waiting for Amazon Prime’s Mirzapur Season 2 to drop. “I have transformed into a character I have never played before for the series,” she concludes.

Aarya is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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