Shirley Setia Curated
Indo-Kiwi Singer, Youtuber and Actress
CURATED BY :
What are your acting aspirations after Maska now?
I am open to any kind of role that I will connect with. After Maska, I have Nikamma which is almost done. I have a couple of other stuff in the pipeline. Whenever the right time comes, I can get talking about that. At the moment I will focus on my wellbeing at home. After this, the first thing will be to work on Nikamma. Let’s see where destiny takes me. I will love to experiment and do all kinds of films. I have learnt a lot from Manisha Mam (Koirala). She was so into her character and it was inspiring to see her work. Now seeing her effort on screen makes me feel good. She’s a great listener and I used to learn these nuances from her. I hope to go further in my path as an actor and do well.
Will You have your next release in the movie Nikamma.
Yes, hopefully, that will be out soon. I am only left with a small chunk of the shoot. We were actually shooting when the outbreak was starting to emerge. We were asked to stop shoot way before the lockdown was announced.
Now that you have kept your baby steps as an actor, and if God willing, you become a successful actor too, how will you juggle between your two passions of music and acting?
Actually, it is very sweet that you mentioned this (smiles). Thank you, I hope aise ho jaaye!! First of all, I will want to keep doing good work. As far as juggling between music and acting goes, I will do so and will not want to give up on anything. In fact, I have sung a song in Maska as well, ‘I want to hang with you’. When we shot for this sequence, I did not know that I will be singing the song. At that point, I realized that I can manage both acting and singing.
You have had an amazing career as a singer and have won for yourself a lot of laurels. Now that you have stepped into acting, how much of an importance does the success of Maska have in your life?
Personally, Maska has just now released and I can talk on the basis of what I have seen and read. We are all indoors and I have not got the opportunity to meet a lot of people post the release of Maska and learn from them. So as of now, all have been really supportive and the messages have been good. I actually feel that I am on the right path with the kind of reactions coming in. I feel satisfied and happy that people are appreciating what I have done and have liked seeing me as Persis. That was very important for me. People have always seen me as Shirley for years now on YouTube and my Instagram posts. So I wanted people to get away from that and see me as Persis. I have a real good feeling about this. After the lockdown and the scare around the virus settles down, I have a schedule left to shoot for my film Nikamma. My confidence level will surely be up after the success of Maska. Having said this, even while shooting for Maska which was actually my first in acting, the way that my crew and Director stood with me and supported me, it never made me feel like a first-timer. If your conscience says that you are good at something, you just have to keep doing it. Even in my singing, I have grown with confidence over the years and you can see this difference and scale in my earlier singing pattern to the recent ones.
How was it playing Persis Mistry in Maska?
It was really good. It was a new learning curve for me. I remember, when I met Neeraj Sir for the first time, he wanted to see whether I have an accent in my English. He also wanted to see whether I had this accent in Hindi too. So I had to tone down all of that, especially for English. I could not be Shirley in Maska and had to be Persis. I also did a lot of workshops with our photographer and got to know a lot. Persis is a blogger and she is very fluent in talking to people she does not know. She is so comfortable in the process that she makes the other person also feel really good and talk to her with an open heart. This was something that I had to learn and get the naturality going. I hope it has come out on screen too.
You have added a new feather into your already studded cap. How easy or tough was it to become an actor?
Actually it was very easy. I did not have to convince myself to become an actor. I have always wanted to be an actor. But I had not got an opportunity to become one. After coming to Mumbai, I tried doing auditions for so many different films. I went to Newyork to study acting for a couple of months. At the same time, I was working and could not leave that too. But I did not know whether it was my calling or it was what I wanted to do. But all of these efforts got me motivated. That was when I got a call from the Producers of Maska.
How did you prepare for the character of blogger?
Our director did workshops with us and put me in such a situation that I had to go talk to random people as Persis and ask them their stories. It was unexpected but helped me understand the mindset of the character. She is free and doesn’t care about what people think of her. She does what she feels is right. I wish I could also be like that
Was it difficult for you to play a character of blogger
Being an introvert person, it was not easy to play a blogger, especially because she gets nervous and scared while talking to strangers revealed the newcomer. She said: “It was a little difficult because I am an introvert person. When you are a blogger, you have to go to random people, talk to them, take their pictures, you have to be out of your comfort zone. This was very difficult for me because I get very scared and nervous while talking to strangers
Do you find any similarities between the character you're playing in “Maska” and yourself?
Some things I relate to like her passion for stories. I’ve always been very passionate about stories even when I was just a singer. I still sing. When you are writing a song, you want to put a story in it which the audience and your fans can relate to. So, I related to her passion for stories. There are some aspects in her character which I might not absolutely agree with. I guess that’s where we differ. But both of us are quite independent and strong headed. We know what we want to do, how we want to focus on things
Tell us about the character you're playing in the Netflix film, “Maska”?
My character’s name is Persis. She is a very strong headed girl. She is independent. She is very passionate about stories and finding out people’s stories. She is a blogger. So you will always see her with a camera and a voice recorder. She talks to people and writes about them in her blog. She is making a new book about Irani cafes and their culture, about the people related to the Irani cafes. Not just the people who own them but also the regular customers who have a lot of memories with such cafes. That’s how she meets Rumi (played by Prit Kamani) and the story unfolds
How is your experience of acting in 'Maska' and 'Nikamma'
I am grateful for the opportunities that I have got in form of 'Maska' and 'Nikamma'. It has been a great working experience. I am excited about both these films and hope people like my work
Are you happy being an actor?
When I started my YouTube channel, I had not called it as a music channel. The purpose of this channel was not just music, it is called Shirley Setia. I was exploring new paths for myself. Now, I am acting in films for the big-screen and for OTT, this is all so new for me. I am both happy and nervous.
What is your experience about starting a new career as a actor?
I was doing a lot of covers, original songs and that was another line of work, a completely different space. I wanted to explore this new world of acting. It wasn't a tough choice as I knew I wanted to do it. "It has not been easy. I am still starting from scratch, I am learning new field of work. This is all new to me, I haven't learnt it. Every work, every experience is new,
Have you done any music training? Do you play any musical instruments?
I am not yet formally trained, but I am surely considering vocal coaching lessons to help me understand the techniques behind singing. I sometimes play the ukulele, but I’m definitely nowhere close to being at the pro level.
How has the journey been from the time you took part in a T-Series contest to your success today?
So it was in April 2013, when T-Series ran a competition for which I recorded a cover of the Hindi song Tum Hi Ho from my parents’ house in Dannemora, East Auckland. I not only won the competition from amongst tens of thousands from around the world but in turn, I also gathered a lot of views for all my YouTube uploads. It has been challenging for sure. I never thought of pursuing my passion as a full-time professional back then. I was naive, merely finishing high school. But taking that spontaneous decision is what led me to then keep pushing my limits. My parents saw my eagerness and allowed me to take the leap of faith to move to Mumbai and pursue my dreams.
What has been the selling point for your music?
I’ve always tried to make music with the purest of feelings and emotions. I feel that it’s the emotions that connect with every soul, and that could possibly very well be the reason.
You have a large following on social media; how did you achieve this great feat?
Thank you so much. I have over 2.5 million followers on Facebook now, which is truly overwhelming. It has been a series of things which led to this. I feel I’m honest with my followers; I’m also very interactive with them on social media, be it taking their suggestions, speaking with them live, or engaging with them in various posts. Since I’ve been the person handling my social media, it allows me to better understand my audience.