Class of 2023: Sharvari, the 'Bunty Aur Babli 2' actress talks about films, fashion and more
Just one film and web series-old, and this young actor has already bagged top acting honours. Brimming with talent— from performing the Bachata in her maiden film to playing a brave soldier who was part of Netaji’s Azad Hind Fauj—Sharvari has a steely determination to make it. Here’s why she’s the one to watch.
We connect over a phone call—the voice at the other end is animated, cordial, and exuberant. Call it a glow-up—a confidence borne out of sweeping best debut actor (female) awards last year for her maiden film Bunty Aur Babli 2, or just knowing that all those years of auditioning and working on film sets as an assistant director have finally paid off.
Growing up in Mumbai, attending a Parsi school in Dadar’s Parsi Colony, Sharvari [Wagh, but prefers her mononymous appellation], was surrounded by a steady set of friends, who are still part of her inner circle. “Most of them stay in Matunga, and there’s this South Indian restaurant there called Ramashray…After cycling every other day, we would end up eating breakfast there. Even today, if we are partying and dancing all night, we make sure we eat there—it’s like a ritual with my friends.”
Sharvari attended Shiamak Davar’s dance classes and loved performing to hit songs of iconic actresses like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, and Kareena Kapoor Khan. “My older sister and I would get into these awful fights at home about who’s better—Kareena or Karisma [Kapoor],” says the hardcore Kareena fan. “My parents are not from this industry (her father is in the construction business, and her sister is an architect), so a future in the film industry seemed far-fetched,” she tells Cosmo. But that was before she won a talent contest in 2014.
“I was studying to be a civil engineer, but my parents saw how much I loved performing,” says Sharvari. So they sat her down and asked if she wanted to be an actor. “I was so worried when they asked me this question...because now I had to give them an answer.” Starting off as assistant director (or AD in filmspeak), for Bajirao Mastani and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, it was Sharvari’s single-minded agenda to learn everything about filmmaking. “I had no intention of enrolling in college again to learn about it [filmmaking]. I wanted to be an actor, go on set, and build contacts,” she shares. At the age of 17, Sharvari was already an AD for Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, and soon after for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani. “My raison d’être to become an actor was Sanjay Sir’s films,” says Sharvari. “Just to witness the magic happen every day on set was enough. Every day of my life, I dream of the day I walk onto his set as an actor.”
And that day may not be far. Bagging her first role—that too with Yash Raj Films—for Bunty Aur Babli 2 was the result of years of auditioning, and one of life’s biggest triumphs for her. “I had been auditioning with Shanoo Sharma of Yash Raj Films (YRF) for four-and-a-half years before I landed my first film,” says Sharvari. “I would get shortlisted, but it wouldn’t work out. But I would always ask for feedback, and tell myself, if not this, then the next Yash Raj film.” And Sharvari kept close to her goal and really chased it. “When it’s not within your grasp, that makes you want to work even harder to get it.”
The sequel to the 2005 franchise, Bunty Aur Babli 2  features the catchy romantic number Luv Ju by Arijit Singh, with Sharvari and Siddhant Chaturvedi (who play the young con artists) doing the Bachata—stepping and twisting effortlessly to the beat. “When Vaibhavi [Merchant] ma’am made us see how it’s done, I was shocked,” says Sharvari. “We had no idea how to do this. On the first day, we were stepping on each other’s toes; he [Siddhant] kept dropping me and I was elbowing him...” But all the effort was worth it as Sharvari won several awards for her performance. She recalls the moment she won the 22nd IIFA Awards Debut of the Year (Female) in Abu Dhabi, with her parents in the audience. “My mom was very emotional,” she says. “I had told her not to pick up the phone and start recording if my name was called out, because they will turn the camera on you, and you guys will come in the live feed with a phone in your face!”
For Kabir Khan’s web series, The Forgotten Army – Azaadi ke Liye, Sharvari got into the skin of Maya Shrinivasan, a photographer who joined Netaji’s army—the all-women Rani of Jhansi regiment—a fun experience, as she describes it. “The story plays an important part in our history, and we also had a sense of responsibility,” she says. “Plus it was a different era. I was playing someone I didn’t know and had never met in my life. Wearing those vintage saris and fiddling with that vintage camera was quite an experience.”
The graceful actor would love to explore a mythological epic or a period drama. “I love the way mythology is adapted for film today,” she says. “Also, I would love to be a part of Rohit [Shetty] sir’s action comedies, or even one of Karan Johar’s romcoms.” We will next see her onscreen in Maharaja, a role Sharvari has called “challenging”, and for which she’s very excited. She also starts shooting for a yet undisclosed project in February.
On her Instagram page featuring images and BTS visuals from shoots, Sharvari likes to mix her professional photos with candid photos, including her Dalmatian, Miso, and her love for fashion. “I’m experimental— sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t—it’s about taking the risk,” she says. Speaking on her personal style, she says, “My style is loose, baggy clothes and sneakers, with open hair and sunglasses.”
Today, due to social media, actors are seen as more accessible, but also less than perfect, if you compare them to the stars of yesterday. “We bare our flaws more openly, and people also accept these flaws,” adds Sharvari. “Our generation is more inclusive and accepting of people’s mistakes. I don’t think they want to be perfect, because there is no such thing as perfect.”
With her parents insisting that Sharvari try a new sport every summer (she’s tried her hand at everything from tennis to swimming to football) as a schoolgirl, the one sport that eluded her was skiing. This winter, she ticked it off her bucket list with an impromptu jaunt to the slopes in Turkey, while on holiday with her folks. “It’s like skating, yet different,” she says. “You fall in the snow and you don’t get hurt.” Back on terra firma, she likes to stay fit with Pilates and functional training.
And this year, Sharvari hopes to work in a lot of films that Gen Z can be inspired by. “I hope that there’s a message or a laugh at the end of the day that I can give them,” she says. “Today actresses have taken the lead, if you look at films like Raazi, Gangubai Kathiawadi, or Thappad, they are all stories about strong, powerful women. I hope to be a part of such films one day.”
Photographs: Arjun Mark
Photography Assistant: Gopi Krish
Styling: Zunaili Malik
Styling Assistant: Jaishree Chhabra
Hair and Make-up: Florian Hurel
Production: April Studios
On Sharvari: Blue version Santiago Corset, Always Original Adibreak Pants, and Stan Smith Millencon shoes, all Adidas original Stan Smiths styled with Blue Version Collection; earrings Myrha by Rhea.