As Bale Pandiya gets ready for release, actor Piaa Bajpai talks about how her journey through filmdom began

Very few actors here come without strings attached. Especially, the watchful eye of mom or dad on the sets. Piaa Bajpai of Goa fame is one of those rare actors who does it all by herself.

As her film Bale Pandiya, directed by Siddharth Chandrashekar, readies for release (the audio launch happened recently), Piaa talks about her journey that began here with the Khosla Ka Ghosla remake, Poi Solla Porom, and continues with the K.V. Anand film Ko, to be out in August.

How it started

But, her journey to showbiz started five years ago when the girl from Uttar Pradesh left home for Delhi after doing a diploma in computer science.

“I wanted to prove to my parents that I could live by myself. Giving tuitions was good business in Delhi back then. You could make up to Rs. 1,500 a kid. So if you took tuition for seven to eight kids, you could make good money. I also worked as a receptionist.

“After a year, I got tired of going to office, coming back and doing nothing else. For a year, I had not taken money from my parents. Then, they grew confident about me, and I shifted to Mumbai,” she recalls.

Dubbing for serials

Piaa started dubbing for TV serials. “Since I was from U.P., my Hindi was good. I could make Rs. 250 - Rs. 300 doing just one session. Then, I started getting offers only for dubbing. When you want to see yourself on screen, but are dubbing instead for someone else, it's very depressing. So, I decided to stop dubbing, and started doing print ads, then commercials and music videos.”

The auditions led to a commercial directed by Priyadarshan. “I was very apprehensive about working in the South because I didn't know anyone here. But, when Priyadarshan Sir asks you if you want to audition for a Tamil film, how can you not do it? I lied to him that Tamil wouldn't be a problem,” she laughs.

“They auditioned me in English and Hindi and the Tamil audition came much later.”

Now that she has shot for a few Tamil films (Poi Solla Porom, Aegan, Goa, Bale Pandiya and Ko), Piaa understands the language better. “I write my lines in English-Hindi and memorise them, and the director tells me how to emote.”

“In Bale Pandiya, I play a happy girl living with her grandfather. She falls in love with a boy who thinks he's a loser. We shot for three to four months. It's a good role,” she says, narrating an anecdote about how she fought sea-sickness with cans of tamarind. “We were shooting on a yacht, and I wasn't used to the sea.”

Shooting by the beaches and partying in Goa for Venkat Prabhu's Goa, and now sailing. What a difficult life for an actor!

“It's not like that. You have to shoot when you are not well. Sometimes, in the hot sun… you have to sing, dance, smile, not be tense, or look tired. No matter what's going on in your mind, it should not show on your face. It gets tough for me sometimes, because, when I am upset, it shows on my face.”