There is strength in her voice, a silent resolution and a power that shines through her words. Actor Piya Valecha has come a long way from modeling, doing theater and her first ad about three years ago to shooting for some of the best brands today and her hands full with movie work. IAD takes an exploratory trip with Piya through her story of becoming the professional that she is and pursuing her art, her passion, with immense discipline and focus.
What are you working on at the moment?
I was shooting for a new Samsung mobile ad yesterday which stars Shahid Kapoor and Vikrant Massey . It was really cool.
Other than ads, I am doing a movie titled Black Birthday where I am the solo lead. It’s about a girl who works for an NGO. She is a very simple person and on her birthday night her life changes.
How do you emotionally cope with doing heavy character driven roles?
It takes me two-three hours to get back to normal. I talk to a friend, or go out, drink cold coffee; I have all these things I do when I am performing a role that is heavy and intense. I prepare for my role a night before the shoot. I remain silent and carry the character with me and really feel it before the performance. During the shoot too, I don’t talk to anyone except with the director.
What roles do you envision yourself playing?
I have done theater and that is all about being real. My passion and interest lies in doing more of a performance oriented character rather than a glam role, dancing around with lots of romance or a regular love story. I am very choosy about the roles I want to play. Maybe I will pick up some bubbly roles after a few years. If I do cute roles, I will be typecast as an actor who falls into just that category. If I do a few negative roles, then I am titled as someone who fits only those kind of roles. These are stereotypes that easily get stamped on you but very difficult to wash off.
What’s your backstory; how did you get into modelling/acting?
I am from Pune. I did my MBA from Symbiosis in marketing and business development. Now part of my family lives in Pune and mum and I live in Mumbai. I came to Mumbai to do my internship with HSBC bank after my studies and was auditioning part time. Then I started modelling and walking the ramp but I wasn’t into it. I am 5’8 and totally fit the bill to be a model but I have always been into acting. So I got into theater, then ads, TV and now films. Some of the television I did included shows such as Baalveer, Dilli Wali Thakur Gurls among others. I knew if this did not work for me, I would go back to my other profession.
How hard would it have been for you to quit had you not made it in the industry?
It’s a little touchy for me because from my childhood days I was always nautanki and a draamebaaz. I would want to be a doctor one day, a lawyer the next day, a cop another day and I always loved travelling. The thrill of this profession was something I really wanted to experience. I like getting ready, putting my make-up on, dressing up. This profession gave me name, fame, money and emotional satisfaction and I get to be different people and not just Piya Valecha. I get to live multiple lives. I have a lot to achieve and if I don’t, I know God has a better plan.
I think we all struggle at our own level. I must have give 2000-3000 auditions and used to come back home upset, feeling like a failure, rejected. They keep you on hold, sometimes you are shortlisted but not finalised. I would ask myself am I wasting my time? I would come back home, shut the door and try to figure out if I wanted to quit or stay back and try again tomorrow. I love acting so I did not give up. In three years, I have reached here and so I will hopefully make more progress in the next three years.
In the future I look forward to being in some kind of service industry such as a hotelier or something related to spa and beauty.
I also don’t discuss this with people. When it’s decision making time, I sit back with myself and don’t take people’s approvals because too many cooks spoil the soup. I know it’s my responsibility and I am a winner if I gain and a loser if I don’t make it but taking that responsibility on myself means I won’t crash back. There are so many set backs in this industry; if it doesn’t accept you, girls have ended up taking their lives like Jiah Khan or they get into a depressive mode. People come from all over the country come here to try their luck. When I was doing it, I took a 6 month break and prepared myself mentally to accept rejections. I am sensitive; so I had to work on myself to fight the mental battles and work more on my mind. At the end of the day, what you become is purely based on your mind.
One person from the film industry who you have worked with and learned something from?
I relate a lot with Kangana Ranaut. She came with so little to this industry and has had some very tough times in her own life. She was not a pageant winner, did not have a Godfather but she came, she stayed and she is a hero now; she is not a heroine. She made it herself without anyone’s support and help and the attitude she has in life is something I totally love. She is a diva. She is like water; she can transform and how. After a time, everyone becomes stagnant but she has achieved so much in such a short span of time.
I have shot four ads with her including Damas Avni jewellery, askme.com, Livon serum and a kitchenware. Now I know Kangana pretty well. She is very cool and super professional.
Absolutely single and I don’t mingle (laughs). I was in a relationship two years ago, that was a serious relationship of three years. It was a turning point and I went through things. Now I am happy and single now. I believe in arranged marriages, baarish mein bheegna, long drives and am totally romantic but I want to be single. I don’t have a criteria like the guy has to be 6 feet tall or anything. He should be decently well off but someone who will respect me and treat me right.
What is your philosophy in life?
I read psychological books and self help books; communication skills books and how to to market yourself. I don’t believe in Cinderella love stories. I think you have to be flexible, understand that reality has something else to offer you and if something bad happens, deal with it. Everyone has expectations; people are not bad, neither are they good; it’s your expectations and how much you let go that reflects back on your life. It’s all basically in your mind and your perception of things.