Prachee Shah Paandya has become a household name for her roles in iconic serials “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” and “Ek Shringaar…Swabhimaan”, and many more prime time shows.
The dimpled actress’s turn as Choti Tabassum in the widely acclaimed film by Anubhav Sinha “Mulk” has been praised by critics and fans alike. She has a degree in Architecture and a Masters in Kathak.
Prachee has been part of other films like “Student of The Year”, “Judwaa-2”, “ABCD 2”, and many other blockbuster movies. The popular actress has a panache for dance and is a world-renowned Kathak dancer and has been a disciple of Late Shri Guru Ganesh Hiralal of the Jaipur Gharana.
This danseuse has performed in Ajanta-Ellora Festival, Elephanta Festival, and other renowned festivals too. The Guinness World Record holder has represented India in various International Festivals and has performed globally and earned accolades and honours!
She has been bestowed with the titles of ‘Nritya Urvashi’ and ‘Sringarmani’. Her upcoming silver screen outing is in the much-awaited movie “Laxmmi Bomb” starring Akshay Kumar.
The Voice of Woman recently got in touch with this gorgeous and talented actress-dancer and got talking on her journey towards reaching the pinnacle of success, as well as the challenges that women encounter to follow their dreams.
Read on to learn more about your favourite Prachee Shah Paandya:
Do you think classical dance forms have become redundant in contemporary times?
I don’t think classical dance forms have become redundant because I see youngsters on social media and in reality shows performing these forms. But what I have noticed is that nowadays they don’t want to spend years practicing. They want to master things fast and create a fusion. I would appreciate it if they keep purity alive.
You have performed both at the national and international levels– how does the audience’s adulation impact an artist?
I have performed in India and abroad, and the response has been great everywhere but the appreciation is more at the international level. Kathak recitals are usually in Hindi, which has now become a global language, but for the convenience of the audience, I translate the script in English.
Since I compare my dance programmes I would explain the premise first in English and then in Hindi, making it easily understandable by everyone in the audience.
Whenever I have performed in foreign countries, I had people coming backstage to meet me and say how much they loved my performance. For any artist, the standing ovations and applause are fuel for doing better every time.
You have the Guinness World Record for “93 spins in a minute”, what kind of dedication is required to achieve such a feat, and how was the feeling of winning this accolade?
When the Guinness committee approached me I was very taken back but I took up the challenge, egged by my father and also my guru. I have been dancing Kathak since I was 3 years old, so the footwork and spins come naturally to me. But this was one-and-half years after I had my daughter, so I wasn’t at the top of my fitness since dancing and doing spins requires a lot of lung capacity.
I was encouraged by my father, and also my guru and husband. I started practicing 100 spins thrice a day- morning, afternoon, and night- I was doing about 300 spins in a day. Either my father or my husband would be keeping the time. I was also doing physical training like skipping and core-training with my gym trainer.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the blessing of the Almighty and the support of my family and loved ones!
Many girls don’t get proper encouragement from their parents or spouse to follow their passion, how important is family support in carving a career for women?
If someone is destined to succeed, they will no matter what. But as humans, we look for encouragement especially from our near and dear ones. I have been very blessed to have supportive parents and post-marriage a supportive husband.
Obstacles will always be there but if one solution doesn’t work there are 20 other ways to reach your goal.
Society is often judgemental about women who take up performing art like a dance: did you face any such prejudice and how do you deal with it?
The first instance was when I was very young and had just started dancing. I belong from a Gujarati Jain family and everyone on my father’s side is into academics- engineers and doctors. At that time it was a hobby, but my grandparents were apprehensive about me becoming a dancer but eventually understood.
My father was always very supportive and encouraging. Whatever I have achieved wouldn’t have been possible without his unrelenting support and guidance.
The second instance was after I got married. My in-laws weren’t comfortable with me dancing and acting, and wondered how I would be able to manage the home, as we stayed in a joint family. But my husband was very supportive since ours was a love marriage.
I knew that dancing was an integral part of my life, so I would go to my parent’s house in Andheri for practice thrice a week and my Guruji would also come there. I continued doing that until we moved into our own house.
The opposition stems from the generation gap. My in-laws are from the older generation. Initially, there was a slight apprehension but over the years my mother-in-law has become one of my staunchest supporters and really appreciates the work that I do.
Your daughter has taken up dancing too, are your styles different?
My daughter is more into western dance forms like Jazz and Hip-hop, as she is more into Gymnastics. Though, she knows the basics of the Kathak. She has watched me practice since childhood, as it is the part and parcel of my home.
But I would never force her to take up Kathak just because I do it. I was never forced into dancing either, it is a passion. She is an individual and has complete freedom of choice and can do whatever her heart desires.
You are an extremely versatile, apart from being an accomplished dancer and actress, you have a keen interest in playing the sitar and in singing Hindustani classical music- how do you manage to strike the balance?
I have always maintained that it is important to prioritise. For me, dancing and acting go hand in hand and the same goes for sitar and singing.
It has always been my hobby but during the lockdown, I have taken to practicing it on a regular basis and I feel I have made considerable improvement. It is important to keep myself relevant at all times.
Even during the lockdown, I have a time-table, which might be surprising for some people. Time doesn’t stop for anyone and suddenly we see that the day is over. I follow a schedule and stick to it.
You have acted in various genres of movies, which has been your most challenging role till date?
“Mulk” has been one of my most challenging roles because of the premise of the movie. I played the role of a Muslim woman, something I have never done before.
Also, it was one of the most challenging roles as I play a mother whose son is a terrorist. I have never played a character like this previously. In this movie, I got to share space with the legendary actor Rishi Kapoor Ji.
You have acted in both serials and films: which do you prefer?
Both TV serials and films are close to my heart. I started my career from TV and this medium has given me all the recognition. Working for serials is much more difficult than movies.
Since we have to do about 8-10 scenes in a day, especially in daily soaps. There is a deadline that has to be submitted to the channel. While in films we only shoot 1 or 2 scenes, thus, there is more time to achieve perfection.
My work experience in serials has been extremely beneficial. Whether it is learning dialogues or switching on-off between various emotions after every scene.
I have always been fond of television and always go back to it whenever they call me. I have done many memorable characters- the last being Sooraj Barjatya’s “Ek Shringar… Swabhimaan” on Colors. I portrayed the role of a single mother who raises her two daughters.
A career spanning over two decades, what is the magic behind being equally relevant as you were then and even now?
There is no magic, it is hard work and dedication. I have always remained true to my craft and give my 100%. I have never taken any shortcuts. There is no alternative to working hard. I keep reinventing myself so that I keep up with changing times.
Can you give a message to the aspiring artist through the Voice of Woman?
The first and foremost thing is to understand and learn the craft in a proper manner. They shouldn’t rush through the learning stage so that they can be on the stage or social media. It takes a lot of time and practice. As an artist, you should have a lot of patience.
To be accomplished in any field, you need to master the art form. Be honest to yourself and to your craft. I want to tell every artist that it is important to work hard and have perseverance. I have seen many people give up because they have been trying for 4-5 years.