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Prajakta Koli: Conversation Around Gender Representation On-Screen Is Loud And Clear

In an interview with SheThePeople, Prajakta Koli opened up about exploring the format of teleplay with Yeh Shaadi Nahi Ho Sakti, her journey until now and how she loves challenging her artistic skills with every venture.

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Ragini Daliya
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Prajakta Koli Interview, Who is Prajakta Koli
Prajakta Koli is one of the popular faces and names on our rectangular screens. She successfully dons several hats across different mediums including that of a YouTuber, content creator, and actor. After her successful acting stint in Anil Kapoor, Varun Dhawan starrer Jugg Jugg Jeeyo, she is all set to dabble in the teleplay titled 'Yeh Shaadi Nahi Ho Sakti.'
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Backed by Zee Theatre,  'Yeh Shaadi Nahi Ho Sakti,' is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's famous comedy 'Taming of the Shrew.' Drenched in 90s nostalgia, this visual feast is directed by theatre veteran Akarsh Khurana and stars Prajakta Koli in her teleplay debut along with Shikha Talsania, Chaitnya Sharma, and Adhaar Khurana.

The central conflict of the plot is that lovebirds Lakshman (Chaitnya Sharma) and Priya (Prajakta Koli) cannot marry each other until the latter's elder sister Pallavi (Shikha Talsania) gets married. Lakshman then devises a hilarious plan and tries to get Pallavi hitched to an eligible NRI groom (Adhaar Khurana). What follows is absolute mayhem and impossible hilarious wedding moments.

In an exclusive conversation with SheThePeople, Koli opened up about exploring the format of teleplay, her career and how she loves challenging her artistic skills with every venture.

Prajakta Koli Interview

You’re exploring the format of teleplay for the first time. How different or difficult was it shooting for this concept?

I did not know how it was going to be shot, but I knew it was going to be a lot of fun because I have never done it before and also because it was Akarsh Khurrana, and the other people I was going to be working with. It was just mad. It was not very different since we got a set, but at the same time, it was new. So that was nice.

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We know your character Priya is lovesick and wants to get married, but she is also bound to wait. Tell us more about her.

It was great playing with her. I have grown up loving the 90s Bollywood masala films, everything that was made by filmmakers like David Dhawan and Sooraj Barjatya. All these films kind of shaped my idea of romance and love, and made me fall in love with many more movies that come up from that era. So when Akarsh told me that we are making this teleplay with a twist, inclusive of these 90s Bollywood twists, I could have never imagined that I would get to do something like this. So she is fun, she is dramatic, loves her family and, at the same time, she is in love with this boy for a long time and it is a cute love story. They are kind of opposite to each other, Lucky and Priya, but they also make so much sense. So it was a lot of fun being here and I am glad I got the opportunity.

Modern-day relationships are evolving, and so are the ideologies around marriages. What is your take on a subject like marriage with respect to the role you’ve played?

Honestly. I am not married so I wouldn’t know anything about it and I am not at a stage where I am going to get married soon. And I literally never thought about it. Hence, my thoughts don’t really add value to it.

It is subjective. And when it comes to modern-day relationships, it works for some and not for others. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer when it comes to this.

We are seeing a new wave around the depiction of women on screen. Do you think we are in the golden period of storytelling or there's still a long way to go?

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We are definitely in a great period in terms of storytelling where at least awareness and conversation is loud and clear about representation, and not just of women but of all genders. I feel very proud to say that I am a part of a project where a non-binary character was played by a non-binary actor. And I feel the kind of awareness we have right now in terms of gender representation in storytelling was long-needed and looking at the glass half-full, I would say yeah I am glad.

"I think if we are doing stories where the way a woman looks is not the only factor driving her character arc, then we are probably in a good place."

You have worked across mediums, from radio to movies. You are constantly on the go. Is this a way to challenge your artistic skills?

I wish this was an orchestrated decision. I wish I could tell you that this is what I always wanted to do. I haven’t planned anything of this, I never expected this will work. Nothing was a conscious decision, also because of the way the platform is evolving, the content and the storytelling, there can never be one way of doing it. Hence, I am taking each day as it comes. And I am open to trying new things, for sure but I am just very happy and grateful with the way things are going on. Some things work out, some don’t. However, every time I learn something new, it helps me grow, so that’s nice.

You once said you love being among people and creating content. However, in today's day and age, it is not easy to consume criticism, so how do you tackle the negativity?

The criticism, I actually look forward to, but the hate I don’t tackle because it is not my problem. If you don’t have something to say about my work, something that won’t help me grow or add any value whatsoever, then it's useless. I have also developed a thick skin over the years because I have also been doing this for so long. Criticism and constructive feedback, I gratefully accept. But if it's blatant hate, then it is not my problem.

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A few days ago you shared a glimpse of your struggle through an Instagram post. It is not easy to be where you are right now and can often get taxing. How do you unwind on a hard day?

I read. I eat home-cooked food. I take a nap. I will turn off my phone and stay away from it. If I have had a hard day, I will journal about it. I have come to realise that journaling about my day brings me a lot of peace. I work out because I have released that a lot of times, a lot of my overthinking gets tackled if I have a good workout even if it is for 10 mins. I am fortunate that the harder days are lesser now perhaps because I know how to deal with what I am feeling.

What would be that one message you would like every young woman to know?

I say this a lot to my younger cousins. Always take your gender out of the conversation whenever you are trying to do something. Never think or say ‘can I do this because I am a woman, or should I do this because I am a woman.’ Just take that filter off and it will simplify a lot of things. I have never pursued anything keeping my gender in mind, and that helped me build a lot of confidence. A lot of times before anyone else shames you, or restricts you, you yourself put those barriers around you because women are grown-up or are conditioned in a certain way. So how about if we just don’t do that to ourselves? Never self-impose any restrictions at least not because of your gender. If it is about your skills, you can work on them, and build them. Don’t put a barrier around your gender.


Suggested Reading: JugJugg Jeeyo Straddles Between Comedy And Gravitas, But Ends Up Trivalising Infidelity

women in entertainment Prajakta Koli
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