Remember the puppetry girl from the adorable Cadbury commercial — where two puppeteers are in the midst of performance and cannot control their craving for the rich, smooth, creamy Dairy Milk Silk? The girl, Parul Joshi, from Dehradun shares her journey with IAD. Her story is not only relatable but also inspiring — snippets from the fun-filled conversation where she talks about the skills and mindset needed to be an actor, her persistence and endevors so far.
Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk ad was a huge hit. How did you land that role? Take us through your journey.
I wanted to be an actor since I was 3 years old. I used to pronounce it as Heeree-oine. (Laughs) My parents thought my interest in acting would fade away as I grow up. But that did not happen. Even while doing my Master’s in Political Science, and preparing for the Civil Services Examination, my heart lied in acting.
One fine day, I realized that if I didn’t pursue acting now, I’d never be able to do it (buddhhi ho jayungi). I quit my studies, convinced my parents, took a leap of faith, and went to Mumbai to study acting at the famous Barry John Acting Studio. Till then, I didn’t know that acting was something that could be learned. After the four-month course, I started going for auditions.
It was a roller coaster ride of auditions, shortlisting, waiting, hopes and patience. I didn’t know what the right way was. I knew no one in the industry, I had no experience whatsoever, but just when I had lost hope and had almost given up, and I got a call that I was selected for the Cadbury puppet ad. My first. January 2016, it started.
You always speak of everyone being unique, that girls need not feel the pressure to fit in by the beauty standards set by the fashion magazines. How did you develop this attitude?
I have struggled with low self-esteem and self-worth issues, and I had to teach myself unconditional self-love and self-confidence along the way. It requires a huge amount of unlearning and inner focus and it is a journey where one can feel lost, and it makes me extremely satisfied and happy if I can use my experience and understanding to connect with people and make them love and accept their unique, beautiful selves even a little more.
Thanks to my lovely sister, who gifted me a series of books by Louise L. Hay and that was the beginning of my journey within. A shift in perspective, looking at experiences as lessons and learning from them. I also meditate, do yoga, workout, read books and listen to motivational speakers. When you consistently do these, you start to see the results and life seems much more fun and a joyful ride.
And, being an actor, putting yourself out there day after day, performing in front of 100s of people, delivering dialogues, negotiating on projects makes you go through a whole roller coaster of emotions; it requires a great deal of self-belief, persistence and a healthy attitude on and off the sets. All the self-learning has tremendously helped me enjoy the work that I always dreamed of doing.
Is being emotional a plus or a minus according to you? How do you handle rejection?
I’m so focused on myself internally that I don’t let a turn down affect me. I don’t even think about it as I cannot control the selection process. Though it sounds cliché and unreal, I work continuously on my craft and a healthy state of mind. I do acting workshops, read books and channelize my energy in improving as an actor and as a person.
Work in commercials that you’re most proud of thus far – web series? Bollywood pursuit?
Brands I’m a part of are Bharat Matrimony, Nescafe, Parle Hide & Seek, Saffola Oats, WhiteTone, Idea, Vogue Eyewear, Sofy (first tampon ad in India) and Simaaya Fashions (with dadi Surekha Sikri). I have worked with some very cool directors: Vineel Mathew for Cadbury, Ram Madhvani for Saffola Oats, Sizil Shrivastava for Evara Platinum Jewllery, Sana Ahmed and Beeswaranjan for Sofy and Livon, Prashant Madan for Barat Matrimony. My recent favorite has to be the ad for Bharat Matrimony with MS Dhoni; he’s so simple, down to earth and a super cool guy.
My first web series was ‘Shaadi Boys’ (2016) for ViaCom18. My short film, ‘Miyan, Biwi Aur Banana’ by Nina Shrivastava and opposite my lovely co-actor Sahil Vaid, is doing the rounds of international film festivals and will release soon.
Yes, the big screen is the dream, to be the “heereeoine” (laughs), it always has been. Honestly, all I can do is keep improving as an actor and keep doing the best I can with opportunities that come my way. Also, the trust, belief, and acceptance that I’ve received from within the fraternity towards my work is encouraging and keeps me going. I’ve done good amount of quality work in a very short period – all thanks to my casting directors and directors.
What do you do to keep your body and mind fit? How much effort goes into skincare/ diet/ exercise?
I was 68 kilos. I had colored my hair blonde; I was delusional and in my Nina Dobrev, the actress from Vampire Diaries, phase. After that came the Jennifer Lawrence phase with short hair (laughs) anyway, I used to eat Burgers and Pizzas and non-vegetarian food almost every day. It took a toll on my hormonal health. It was getting difficult to get through the auditions with acne and all those extra kgs.
Now I follow a very simple and high-energy diet – dal, chaawal aur phal (rice, pulses and fresh fruits): no protein powders, no preservatives, and no chemicals. I haven’t entered a gym in a year, though gymming helped me initially but as I understood my body and its needs better; I now keep my workouts interesting, from swimming, running, yoga to functional training. I plan my workouts according to what my body feels and needs, and it includes lots of rest days too. I’ve never felt better.
What are you most complimented for – 1) smile or 2) eyes?
(Laughs) Mostly smile. I’ve been told I’ve expressive eyes… Waise toh choti si annke hain meri.
Which is your favorite city?
Honestly, I haven’t traveled much, but Mumbai feels like home. I just love the vibe. It is always celebrating. I feel welcomed here. It has everything – ek taraf beach hai, toh doosri taraf Lonavla. Recently, I was shooting for a commercial in Goregaon, and apparently, there is something called Mini Kashmir too near the film city, well that’s Mumbai, full of life and keeps you fascinated.
Is there anything you would like to add—education, an incident that you’d like to share, anything about your family?
I did my schooling from St. Joseph’s Academy, Dehradun and graduation in Economics (Hons.) from Delhi University. I’m currently learning Kathak and thoroughly enjoy my classes. I cook, read, binge Netflix, dance crazy all by myself, and that’s about it.
My all-time favorite movie is Silver Linings Playbook – mostly for Jennifer Lawrence. I love all Meryl Streep movies especially Bridges of Madison County. (Signs off)
Interview by Wajendhar R Kulkarni.