Pure: Interview with Kiran Sonia Sawar (Shereen)

Category: Interview

Explain a little bit about Pure – what’s it all about?

It’s the story of a young woman trying to figure out young adult life whilst suffering from a form of OCD called Pure O but not knowing that it’s what she has. She’s trying to figure out life whilst suffering from an extreme mental disorder.

You play Shereen – what’s her story?

Shereen is very open, friendly, genuine type of person who wants the best from everyone around her but sometimes her honest and caring nature means people take advantage of her. She’s moved to London after growing up in Scotland and has really landed on her feet in most aspects of her life but craves a social life that she’s not a part of.

Shereen is Marnie’s only link to home, but they’re not exactly close, are they?

No. Shereen was bullied by both Marnie (Charly Clive)  and Helen (Olive Gray) at school but still craves their love and affection. She so desperately still exists in her high school mentality so when Marnie asks to come stay for a while, Shereen jumps at the chance! 

What attracted you to the role?

I’d never heard of this form of OCD before and because the sufferer experiences, in Marnie’ case, sexually intrusive thoughts she can’t share with anyone, it must be a lonely condition to live with undiagnosed. I believe one per cent of the population in the UK suffer from it (of known cases where people have been diagnosed) and I thought it would be great to be involved to raise awareness of it in our society.

In a project like this, where you’re not playing the person with OCD, do you feel it necessary to do much in the way of research?

I did do research because I wanted to be aware of the responsibility around the condition and, for me, understanding it was vital to being involved.

Did you read Rose Cartwright’s book?

Yes, I read it multiple times before shooting and a few times during.

Do you think it’s important for TV dramas to address mental health issues? How do you think it helps?

Yes I think it’s important to encourage open and honest conversations around mental health issues especially ones that are rarely talked about. And TV is a good way to get themes and issues out into mainstream media and conversation.

How do you ensure that a comedy drama about mental illness isn’t in bad taste?

They say comedy from afar is drama up close so no I don’t think it’s in bad taste as long as people are responsible with the material and it’s not shot in bad taste.

Do you get nervous before working on a new project?

Every time.

Most of your scenes were with Charly. What was it like working with her?

It’s was great working with Charly she’s a lovely actress and it was exciting to develop our relationship and story together completely separate from everything else going on in her characters life.

It was her first major TV role – did she ask you for advice?

No, she already seemed like a pro!

You were recently in Channel 4’s Brexit drama – what did you make of that experience?

It was an incredible experience, working with a writer of James Graham’s Calibre was extraordinary. He’s such a nuanced writer and talent. The wealth of actors in the show also was amazing. I learnt a lot from my peers, especially getting to see Rory Kinnear work. Toby the director has a very interesting way of shooting scenes in an open environment and was interested in improv and freedom of text which I really enjoyed as well.