Being a movie star is not that easy. If climbing to the top of the film world and becoming a star were that easy, we would have a lot more superstars. It’s a rare person who hasn’t dreamt of fame or fortune at some point in his or her life. Many of us put those dreams away and give attention to a more stable career path. But there still are many other who dare to follow their dreams and place off for Hollywood to make a splash. However, only some will succeed.
Today we have the pleasure of meeting one of such dreamer, Pragathi Yadhati. She is a rising star and is currently working in the new 2017 movie called ” The Ring Around the Rose“, which is about a mysterious man who throws a young girl, Anjali in a loop that oscillates between life and death. The movie is 70% complete with a budget of 550,000 USD .
Along with extreme talent and skill in acting, the two other qualities that make Pragathi standout are patience and persistence. She is an “overnight success” who labored in the acting trenches for years before being plucked out of obscurity and deposited on the red carpet. If you know her you will know what staying focused and determined means and if you learn these from her, perhaps one day you can conquer the film industry and become a movie star just like her.
Pragathi jokingly says, ” As goes it in my culture, anybody good at Math turns into an engineer and anybody who’s good at Biology, turns into a doctor. Hence, a bright, straight-A student that I was in school and college, I pursued a degree in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. I’m passionate about arts. I was always involved in the Performing Arts groups growing up, although back then, it was just part of extracurricular activities than a full-time profession. I believe that Art has the power to relieve people from their sorrows, even if only temporarily. It provides a solace to tired souls. This thought rekindled my passion in arts again in college. But this time, as a professional. I joined the New York Film Academy and studied acting. I wanted to perfect my craft and enrolled myself in a two-year program at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. I also learned the Meisner technique in acting at the MCS theatre and studied Improv. While still a student learning all these, I performed in various plays in New York and New Jersey. I played the lead actress in an independent Hindi feature film called “Iraade Maum Ke” that shows the life of an Indian immigrant IT engineer struggling to pursue her dream in the States. Upon this movie’s completion, I was offered to play the lead in a Bollywood movie called “Ooops a Desi”, which received critical acclamation for its style of making and subject matter. I received a great applause for my role in that movie and was interviewed on major Television networks of India such as TV9, Zee TV, ETV, NTV, and others. The movie was made with a small budget but it filled the pockets of distributors by collecting around $50M dollars. Now that I graduated, I’m ready to avail the offers in American Television which have a higher need for characters that suit my ethnicity and acting skills.
When asked about ” What makes your work special?” she answered:
Even in personal life, I’m very open and vulnerable. I can delve into the deepest areas and give my heart and soul to the character. Due to my training in acting, I know how to work on a character even when it is far from me and with my classical Indian dance training, I know how to portray a character to tell the story. Apart from my talent and skills, I do a lot of homework on the characters I play. These qualities help me bring life to the characters.
I’ve always chosen roles very carefully and played all woman-centric characters. I have rejected many offers from some big productions in which the roles are solely objectifying women. I’m not against being glamorous but if the roles are just meant for titillating audience by skin show, I’m strictly against it.
When did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
Though I’ve acted in several plays and won many awards when I was growing up in India, I couldn’t choose to be an actor till I moved to New York. One of the reasons is there is no encouragement for art from families in India. It is kind of customary to be either an engineer or doctor in our culture. People are more focused on lucrative jobs, which is not wrong but it is killing the art that promotes humanity. I want to learn and work in the field of theatre and movies in this country where there are more opportunities and a greater exposure to global theatre, and with that wonderful experience, I want to take things home and bring a renaissance in art.
Who are your heroes and why?
There are many playwrights like Tony Kushner, Tennessee Williams, Lee Blessing and many directors and actors who hit my core with their works and made me realize that all human beings are equal. I adore Jesus Christ from whom I’ve learnt about unconditional love, from Mahatma Gandhi I have learnt the principle of nonviolence and Lord Krishna is my hero too for his naughty stories and righteousness.
If you could do anything in your career what would it be?
As we all know, India is a male dominating country, even in this era women are oppressed and suppressed and there are several social evils that exist predominantly in India. Homosexuality is still a sin to those who are aware of homosexuality and majority of them are not even aware that it exists. Women still have to give dowry to get married, there is still child labor, not many understand mental illnesses like bipolar or dementia or even depression. A lot of these social evils exist due to lack of awareness. I chose my purpose as an artist to create that awareness through art so as to dig out and bring that downtrodden humanity from people’s hearts. I’ve written two plays, “Who’s to blame” deals with the society and it’s attitude towards the mentally ill, the other play I wrote “Fair” is about the caste system in India. I want to adapt them to screenplays and play those roles so I can reach the larger number of people.