Some people imbibe the art of acting or appreciating fine arts through pedigree; others toil hard to learn it, while a few rare ones have it inborn. For actor and stand-up comedian Ankita Srivastava, acting has been a natural gift. After her experience in the modelling and theatre industry, the Mumbai-based actor is eagerly waiting for the release of her first commercial film, Sarbjit, directed by Omung Kumar, where she plays the role of Sarbjit’s daughter.
At school and colleges in Mumbai, Ankita easily got recognised not just as an actor but a scriptwriter as well. “There have been many turning points in my life, and each one has led to another, somehow taking me forward,” she says. Ankita is not an alumni of any drama school, but according to the actor, “participating in workshops helped me get the right kind of exposure. There were several sessions where best performers were selected and given the opportunity to perform on stage as part of that group. I was lucky a couple of times.”
Born in Kanpur, Ankita is the first generation of actors in her family. Her father comes from Banaras and works in an iron and steel company in Mumbai and her mother is from Kanpur and teaches Sanskrit and Hindi. “Upbringing matters. I may not be born into a family of actors, but discussing and appreciating art was a common dinner table conversation,” she says.
Her fast-track journey in theatre started with Ambal Productions, a YouTube Channel formed by a group of individuals from diverse fields who came together to promote the dogra culture. After the successful staging of An Unposted Love Letter, a monologue adapted from a short story by Nobel laurette Doris Lessing in 2015, she went on to trying stand-up comedy. She reveals, “Mohit Sharma was the director of Monologue and during our conversations, we realised that we both have a good sense of humour. Making people laugh is one of the most difficult tasks. This challenge attracted me, and we came up with Oye Stand Up!, a 70-minute show that takes on life in urban India as actors and societies at large,” she says and adds, “Stand-up made me realise my capabilities and versatility.”
Cinema and stage are two completely different ball games. Ask her which one does she enjoy more, and Ankita says, “Definitely stage. You get to witness the reaction then and there. For a film, one has to wait but the reward is everlasting. A good actor never fails to make a mark on stage, even if everything else—lights, costume, sets—goes wrong. That’s the direct perk of stage acting.”
So how has it been on sets working with Aishwarya? “She is more than helpful and breathtakingly beautiful. For every scene that she gave her suggestions, it turned out to work wonders,” she says. Ankita has also worked in Bollywood dramas with two National Award-winning directors—Ananth Mahadevan’s Life’s Good (2015) and Priyadarshini Krishnaswamy’s Gangoobai (2013).
Ankita’s days are getting busier. When she is not rehearsing, dubbing or on sets, she will be found writing poetry and blogging. Has it been a drawback that she has not learnt acting? The confident actor replies, “Nothing like learning on field. No amount of coaching can teach you presence of mind. It is the exposure that develops it. Maybe I would have been a better actor, but I try hard and my work can vouch for it.”