On the Couch with Shiv Palekar

MTC-Shiv-Palekar-photo-by-Jeff-BusbyWho is Shiv Palekar?
I am an actor, and an immigrant to this country. I grew up in India and Hong Kong, so I’m weirdly considered an immigrant or outsider in those places too. I’m from many places and from none – which gives way to feeling comfortable wherever I may be but also feeling the opposite.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Nothing. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities and struggles that have come my way and to do any of it differently would be a disservice to who I am. I would like to read more books and watch more TV series and films though.

Who inspires you and why?
Both my late grandfathers have been a huge inspiration for me throughout my life. My grandfather on my mother’s side used to be a captain in the Merchant Navy of India – he rose the ranks during British rule at the end of Colonial rule and faced tremendous adversity and racism from his outgoing superiors.

He was one of the first Indian men to undertake an ice-breaking expedition through frozen waters near Norway, at a time with far less sophisticated navigation and operational technology. He remained a strong, resilient, disciplined, knowledgeable and generous person until his last days. He knew a lot about the world and spoke many languages.

My grandfather on my father’s side started his career as a door to door incense salesman in Mumbai – he worked hard his whole life and was able to create a better life for my father and by extension, me. He was the kindest, sweetest person I’ve ever known.

I’m also inspired by my mother, who raised me in the 90s as a single working mother in India. Something almost unheard of at the time. She gave me opportunity and confidence and independence, and through moving to Hong Kong she helped broaden my world view and definitely led me to where I am today.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
As soon as I’m able to become a citizen in Australia, I would love to study immigration law and help people through a system that is fraught with injustice and trapdoors. I would love to advocate for those seeking asylum as well as those trying to find their feet in a new place. I have experienced immense difficulty being a resident here with years of uncertainty, so if I can allay those worries for others in a similar position I’d consider that pretty special.

Favourite holiday destination?
I love all the places been to! It’s hard to narrow it down. I’m heading to Europe later in the year and really looking forward to visiting Italy and France for the first time.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to and why?
Depends which town! If I’m in Mumbai I’d take them to chor bazaar which means ‘thieves market’ where there are amazing antiques and wonderful stalls that sell vintage Bollywood vinyl records. If I’m in Hong Kong I’d take them to Chung King Mansions which is a gathering place for people of many different parts of the world in the form of authentic cuisine and touts and old school Indian barbershops. In Sydney I’d take them to Harris Park for a meal on Wigram Street.

What are you currently reading?
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been obsessed with the Beatles back catalogue for a while and that’s converted into a recent interest in Paul McCartney and Wings. Arrow Through Me and Bluebird are both great tracks. The Way I Feel Inside by The Zombies is a recent discovery to me too. I’ve also been listening to the album Power-Fuerza by The Ghetto Brothers. Also on repeat I usually have Nelson Cavaquinho, Brad Stank, Parquet Courts, Her’s, The Platters and Marcos Valle. I’m also really loving Art Garfunkel’s cover of The Waters of March.

Happiness is?
Belonging, kindness, doing what you love and loving what you do. Accepting where you’re at and why you’re there.

What does the future hold for you?
I don’t know! If you know, please tell me. Hopefully good things.

Shiv stars as Christopher in the MTC production of The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp – currently playing in the Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne until 2 July 2022. For more information, visit: www.mtc.com.au for details.

Image: Shiv Palekar – photo by Jeff Busby