Shriya Pilgaonkar has happily created a separate part for herself in the industry by playing different roles. But even today, everyone fondly remembers her as Shah Rukh Khan’s chirpy, Dilliwali friend Neha from ‘Fan’. And for the actress, too, the film and her character are super close to her heart. In an interview with ETimes, she opened about her memories and experiences working with SRK in “Fan”.


‘Fan’ completes five years of release this month. How does one reminisce about the film today?


‘Fan’ will always be a special film on my behalf because it was my first Hindi film with such an enormous production house. To be ready to share screen space with Shah Rukh Khan, of all people, still feels very surreal to me. ‘Fan’ will always have a special place in my heart. Looking back at the film, I feel it tried to inform a very different story compared to the others. It was a challenge for SRK to play these completely different characters–one an actor like himself and the other, a fan. It had been brave of the filmmakers to try to do things differently and be ready to make sure choices. A number of them worked, and a few didn’t. However, looking back, I feel one should be ready to take risks and also, the film did that. I’m proud to be a part of ‘Fan’.


Take us to the time once you were first approached for the film. What was your reaction?


I had been auditioning for films for quite a few months long ago, and sometimes I used to be even attentive to what film I was auditioning for. There have been several rounds and workshops with different actors. It was a pleasant training process on behalf of me to audition with different scenes. Maneesh Sharma happened to look at many of the scenes I had finished other projects and thought I used to befit the role. Once I received a call saying they’re considering me for a movie that stars Shah Rukh Khan in it and we’re keen to satisfy me, I couldn’t believe it initially. I told myself not to get too excited because I realised how things are often. It only sunk in once I went on the sets to shoot. I used to be thrilled! It still feels unbelievable to me sometimes.


What was your first meeting with Shah Rukh Khan like? Were you intimidated by him?


Before I met him on the sets of ‘Fan’, I saw him at a studio where I used to assist in a movie. My director had taken me along for a few work, and when she spotted him and went over to talk to him, I used to be right there together with her, so she introduced me to him. For me, SRK isn’t just a star; I even have always really enjoyed watching his interviews. He’s so intelligent! Overall, he’s somebody who takes an interest in numerous other things. I like the very fact that he enjoys reading. Most of our conversations would be about books. For me, I used to be excited to ascertain what quite an individual; he’s quite anything.


I was not nervous at all; he made me very comfortable. It had been a very collaborative effort on sets. His charm lies in the incontrovertible fact that he makes everybody feel special and important.


How is SRK as a co-star and as an individual?


He was very warm and welcoming. He made sure everyone felt involved and a part of the method. I used to be very comfortable. I remember shooting for a scene during a colony in Delhi. People there in the colony were very excited to ascertain Shah Rukh Khan. They were shouting his name. We had to draw a bead on a scene where we were lecture one another, but the noise of the people screaming in the background was so loud that we couldn’t even hear one another. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime experience once you work with somebody of his stature.


SRK was really calm, and he was trying to reply to as many of us as he could, which was very nice to ascertain. After the scene, we sat in the car and, of all things, we started discussing books. It had been such a traditional conversation that you would perhaps have with a friend. To me, that’s special.


How was it to get on the sets of ‘Fan’? Did SRK offer you any tips or advice that you still remember?


It was fun to be there in the atmosphere and to ascertain how things are done. In one of my conversations, I had mentioned to SRK that I’m also curious about filmmaking which I had directed a brief film and a documentary. He told me that he, too, loves the method of filmmaking. He also suggested a book on screenwriting called ‘Save The Cat’, which I immediately bought. We might hang around whenever we could after the shoot. It had been just a pleasant and straightforward experience. I feel there are tons to find out from him and, therefore, how he carries himself. Generally, I feel of him as a philosopher.

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