Pallavi Sharda talks about her various jobs from RJ to Management consultant

11/10/2018

I was born and brought up in Australia where my parents, who are both IIT alumni and have PhDs in science and engineering, migrated before I entered the world. Both my parents, Dr Hema Sharda and Dr Nalin Kant Sharda, are professors in Australia. I knew I wanted to be an actress as a young girl, but perhaps because of the academic environment at home, I chose to pursue Law, Media and Communications and a Diploma in French at the University of Melbourne.
As a child, I had dreamt of being an independent working woman. When I was 15 years old, I started my first job at a bookstore in Melbourne. I would sell books, stock shelves and handle the check-out counter. My father loves books and our house in Melbourne is like a library so the bookstore felt like a natural place to start my working life.
In my second year at the University, I worked as an RJ on a community radio channel and would do a broadcast once a week. I also sold 3G phones in a phone store in Melbourne.
In the third year, I started working part-time at a management consultancy firm. I was a part of a team which set the curriculum on how to teach new software to the employees of our clients. We were called the ‘Human Performance Team’.
While I was working at the consultancy firm, I splurged on my first ‘adult’ Christmas presents for my family. I bought my brother a signed copy of Steve Waugh’s autobiography, a beautiful stainless-steel kettle for mama and socks and ties for my father (he always drew the short straw!). I remember putting up our tree and carefully wrapping all the presents. It was rare for all of us to be under one roof on Christmas Day as my mother used to travel a lot. But that year, we were all there and I wanted it to be a real Christmas.
My friends called me, the ‘WEG’ the ‘Work Experience Girl,’ because every time we met, I was doing something new. Some of these jobs only paid me a few dollars an hour but I enjoyed the joy of buying my own coffee, clothes and paying for my own expenses.
I wanted to understand what I really wanted to do before I actually embarked on my future, so I tried my hands at as many jobs as possible. I even worked at a law film, doing a clerkship in my final year at the University.
But while I was doing all this, I still clung on to my acting dream. The first step was to enrol in drama school part-time while I was studying.
I then started teaching Indian dance at the University. A Bharatanatyam dancer, I was passionate about Indian folk and classical dance, I wanted people in Melbourne to know that our country is more than just Bollywood and introduced dance forms from around India within the course.
On Saturdays, I would also teach Bharatanatyam to young students at our dance school. Throughout this period, my father would joke that he had to take an appointment to meet his busy-busy daughter.
I was still studying at University when I first came to India in 2010 to follow my childhood dream. Mumbai and the film industry was a whole new world for me. I auditioned every day and one of my first major assignments was a cameo in Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan with Shah Rukh (Khan) and Kajol in the lead.
The same year, I played a leading role opposite Manoj Bajpayee in Ajoy Varma’s comedy drama Dus Tola, a remake of the Malayalam film, Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu. I played a classical dance teacher and my experience came in handy. I would go back and forth to Melbourne to finish my degrees and ultimately graduated with honours.
During my time in India, I’ve worked in the theatre in Mumbai and gone on to do films including Besharam, Hawaizaada with Ayushmann Khurrana, Dev Patel’s Lion and the period-drama Begum Jaan.
I’ve loved the last two-three years in which I’ve had the opportunity to work in so many territories, diversify my craft and expand my horizons as an Indian-Australian actress.

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