Priyanka Lalwani: “The pandemic made me more compassionate, I now know that we should all save up for the rainy day and live in the moment”

Priyanka Lalwani’s career in showbiz began as a model. Born and raised in Nagpur, she was runner-up in a beauty pageant in the city. She has made regional films, Hindi and Sindhi web series, Hindi commercials, and is also a presenter. During her studies, Priyanka joined an event management company founded by her friends, and the team later moved to Mumbai and also started managing well-known singers. But somewhere, Priyanka always wanted to do more. The creative streak in her inspired her to give acting a chance again. Although the trip isn’t going smoothly, the actress who made the Jamai Raja TV show, the Spotlight 2 web series, and the Vaaesar e Gum and Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se films, is pleased with the opportunities she was given. Excerpts from a chat with Priyanka:

What made you move from event management to acting?

I actually started modeling and later got into acting and anchoring. While I was doing all of this, I met some of the friends who were into event management, so we worked together for a couple of years. One day I decided that I wanted to go back to what I originally wanted to be an actor. So I decided to give it a try because I didn’t want to regret not having tried.

How easy or difficult is it to get into showbiz?

It was and is a struggle. I don’t have a film background so when I first moved to Mumbai I didn’t know a lot of people. My contacts in event management and a few friends in town guided me. If you are from Mumbai or if you know someone in the industry it will be easier for you. So it took me time. You have to audition regularly without expecting much in return. And to top it all, if you do a project and don’t publish it, it’s a whole different story. It happened to me so I know how heartbreaking it is.

There are too many actors by the name of Priyanka. Does it disturb you?

Remember William Shakespeare said: What’s in a name? I believe in that too. It doesn’t really bother me. Each of us is unique in our own way.

You are also a hand model. How did this happen?

I feel like this happened because it should be. I knew I had decent hands, but didn’t know I could try something like hand modeling as well. I remember going to an audition for a commercial and they asked me if I would like to do hand modeling. I wasn’t aware of this, but thought to myself, why not try that too. After I agreed, they took a few pictures of my hands and I was selected. I’ve done some ads for Cadbury, Manish Malhotra’s Love and Care, Nutribullet, and others.

How did you get your first break on TV?

I had my first TV break with Jamai Raja from Zee TV. I had given my pictures to some casting directors and one of them was working on Jamai Raja, which I didn’t know at the time. I was later called for an audition and got the role of interpreter on the show. I didn’t know much about it then, the only thing that crossed my mind was that I wanted to act. So I knocked on every possible door.

Why didn’t you work on television after Jamai Raja?

It’s not that I didn’t do auditions, in fact I did a lot of TV auditions and I’m still doing the same thing. But things didn’t go as I had hoped. Sometimes I didn’t like the role being offered, sometimes I was turned down. And in some shows, I only did cameos. So I did a little TV here and there, but I didn’t like any real character. I hope to have more opportunities in the near future.

You have also made Sindhi music videos and web series. How did that work?

My debut music video is a song called Oh Muhinji. It’s a Sindhi song sung by Shaan and Manjushree. I also did a Sindhi web series called Sindhi Wedding Bells last year and the response has been very good. The creators then decided to do a second part of the series. I was working on the song and the series at the same time. The song is available on YouTube and the web series will be released shortly. Oh Muhinji is a nice, funny and upbeat number.

You played the character of a moderator in Vikram Bhatt’s Spotlight 2?

Yes, my character is seen putting on a grand finale concert. Playing the role was a lot of fun. It was like a real encounter with the role. My experience as a host helped me work on this project.

How do you deal with the pandemic scenario? What did you learn?

It’s been two tough years for everyone. In the midst of the crisis, I am grateful to have a roof over my head, food on my plate and a healthy family. I tried not to feel down and kept busy. I stayed close to my family and friends. This situation taught me to be more compassionate. It also made it clear to me that we should all save up for the rainy day and that when the going gets tough, the tough go. And most of all, life is small, so we have to live in the moment.

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