A popular face on Hindi television, Pawan Shankar is an actor who has proved his versatility by playing a wide range of characters in serials like Siddhant, Aisa Desh Hai Mera, Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan, Kasamh Se, Jeet Jayenge Hum, Vicky Ki Taxi, Kya Hua Tera Vaada, Mr. Bhatti on Chutti among others. However, not someone to be satisfied with just one thing, Pawan has also left his mark as a national level Table Tennis player and is a successful entrepreneur today.
My City Links caught up with the actor-turned-entrepreneur while he was in the city recently, to attend and promote an education fair organised by his company ‘Educationista’. He shares his journey, interests and future plans. Excerpts.
You have been a popular television actor. What inspired you to venture into the world of education?
I have always worshipped my acting profession, whereas fashion is my passion. But education is what I regard as Divine. I feel that education is one profession that stands above all the others. Therefore, for the last four years I have been devoting my time in this field with my company Educationista. Right now, I can’t think about anything else other than education.
I used to wonder why teachers, even after being paid so less, still choose to be one. You have to be in the field of education to realise its divinity. It has the power to bring about the change that we want in our country. If we are able to reach rural and tribal inhabited areas and educate them in the right way, we can build the new India that we all have visualised.
What are the areas that Educationista focuses on?
Headquartered in Mumbai, we operate in 15 cities in eight states. We try to provide organised information and platform to schools, students and the parents. We bring them together on a single platform and educate them about the various opportunities. Time has changed and with changing time, we have to change the way of education. We help students and their parents to choose the right curriculum, institutions and board among other things. Choosing the right educational institution is very important. Besides, for students, good parenting is the need of the hour.
You were a national level table tennis player representing Uttar Pradesh even before you became an actor. How did you switch from being a sportsperson to an actor?
Sports happened to me when we shifted to a neighborhood in Allahabad where there was a TT table. My elder brother who also happens to be a national champion, started going to the neighbour’s house to play TT. I would usually follow him there. That was when one of the players who was a regular to the professional sports complex, suggested that my brother and I join a professional sports institute. So, as my brother entered into professional table tennis, I followed him there as well. Eventually, he became a national champion. I followed suit.
Although sports happened by chance, it has contributed a lot to my life. It not only helped me develop my personality but being a sportsperson gave me a lot of exposure and I interacted with people across the country and came to know about their lifestyle, culture and habits. Meeting new and different people has its own advantages. You tend to become more understanding and sorted as a person yourself. Sports has made me what I am today. That’s why I encourage youngsters to take up sports.
Do you think the television industry is changing?
Yes, it is changing. When I started acting, serials used have unending number of episodes, running for six to eight years. The trends are changing where we see teleserials with limited number of episodes. My debut serial ‘Siddhant’ was the first tele serial with numbered episodes. Limited episodes are popular abroad, and now Pakistan and Indian television industry are following the same format. Viewers do not have the time to watch lengthy series in their hectic schedule. This is clear from the fact that short web series are becoming popular. If one is talented, one can entertain people even on YouTube. The entertainment world is definitely expanding.
Are you planning for a comeback in acting?
Of course, I will. I have recently done a short film. I had to devote a lot of time in building Educationista. So, I could not concentrate on acting. But I have now started taking short projects and films.
Are you interested in doing short web series?
I will never do anything, which would send a negative message to the society, even if I am offered crores to do it. You would never see me doing reality shows like Bigg Boss or a Nach Baliye, though I was approached many times. Nevertheless, I always believe that an actor is there to perform and it is for the masses to judge.
Since you have mentioned Bigg Boss, what is your opinion about the two most talked about celebrities inside the house, Shilpa Shinde and Hina Khan in Bigg Boss? It seems Bigg Boss has helped change the image of Shilpa after the famous controversy last year, whereas Hina has been receiving negative reviews.
Both Shilpa and Hina are good friends of mine. Infact, Shilpa is my neighbour. In Bigg Boss, people get to see their celebrities without a mask. Even though Hina is a pleasant person, eventually, it all boils down to how much pressure one could handle inside the house. When under pressure, the inner personality of an individual emerges. I feel that Hina is not able to handle the same. The problem with these shows are, however, even if most of the contestants are doing well, the makers will project those parts that will raise their TRPs.
What are your future plans?
I am planning to producea film that will carry a social message on certain concepts or issues thathaven’t been highlighted earlier.
So how was your experience in Bhubaneswar?
It is my first trip to Odisha and it is an amazing place. When I was at the airport, I found it beautiful, neat and clean; but since it was the airport, it has to be maintained well. But on entering the city, I found it to be clean everywhere. I felt Bhubaneswar is the cleanest city in the country. Also, people are polite, soft spoken and warm towards visitors. I am going back with good memories of the city.