YouTube, Netflix, and the big screen—actor Mithila Palkar has shone on every platform she has explored in her short acting career so far. While most attribute her success to a girl-next-door demeanour, we see a versatile artist just starting to unleash her full potential.
Text & Produced By Rashima Nagpal
Photographed By Rahul Jhangiani
Assisted By Azfar Khan, Deepak Yadav & Abhishek Yadav
Styled By Divyak D’souza
Assisted By Khushi Bhatia
Hair : Siddhesh Avinash Shinde
Makeup : Sahithya Shetty
Location : Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach
We looked long and hard for this month’s cover star. The idea was to find an emerging actor who was at home across platforms. This quest inevitably led us to Mithila Palkar, an actor whose story can very well be the poster child of OTT platforms’ impact in India.
It was two web series that effectively kick-started her career. Girl in the City (Bindass Originals) discovered the young actor with the infectious smile and the curly locks, and Little Things (Netflix) catapulted her to fame. Bollywood soon came calling with prominent roles. Films like Karwaan, Chopsticks (Netflix), and the upcoming Tribhanga (Netflix), a persuasive presence on social media, and a variety of TV commercials have now made Palkar a household name.
No matter what the platform, acting is all Palkar has ever focussed on. “The experience changes with the story you’re telling and the people you’re working with,” she says, “but otherwise, acting is acting.” Since she never went to acting school, her ‘method’ is inspired by her experiences. Among these, she highlights a managerial stint at Thespo theatre festival (thespo.org). “From writing emails to hosting events, being behind the scenes at Thespo was a humbling experience. It taught me basic life skills,” she says. In fact, it was during this gig that her desire to be an actor was born.
She later enrolled herself into an acting workshop in Los Angeles. “Theatre is [my] first love. I take every chance I get to go back to it,” she beams. Besides learning the basics of acting, like the Michael Chekhov and Stella Adler techniques, Palkar says she picked up many nuances from the people she met at the workshop. “I made friends across ethnicities—there were people from Italy, Spain, Turkey, China, and America. People from all over the world, age no bar, was the beauty of the class,” shares Palkar.
While she went viral with her version of the ‘cup song’ on YouTube four years ago, her role in Little Things, alongside co-actor and creator Dhruv Sehgal, earned her critical acclaim. It is this character of Kavya Kulkarni to which Palkar relates most. “The set of Little Things felt like home,” she shares. On the contrary, Karwaan made her feel like a wide-eyed child in Disneyland. “Working with Irrfan Khan was like going to film school!”
There is nothing set in stone when it comes to acting, says the actor with the introspective look of a veteran. The act of being empathetic—and juggling between her emotions and those of the character—continues to be a lesson for her. Palkar says she loves observing people. I can tell as she converses with me. Her love for food cannot be contested either. Travelling, then, is obviously high on her priority list. In this sense, she’s a lot like her popular girl-next-door avatar on screen. “If someone likes me, I’d much rather be their friend than a star they admire from a distance,” says Kavya, er… Palkar.