The Sharma Sisters: Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran on Joining “Bridgerton”
There are many things that separate the first “Bridgerton” season from the second, but the most exciting addition is without a doubt the Sharma family. Consisting of Kate and Edwina, who are played by Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran, the Sharmas’ arrival adds another layer of representation to the already-inclusive period drama – and we’re here for it. Ahead of season two’s premiere on March 25, we caught up with Ashley and Chandran to talk about joining the cast of “Bridgerton,” what to expect from the Sharma family, and what Regency-inspired cover they’re most excited about from this season’s soundtrack.
We imagine that joining the cast of a hugely successful Netflix show can be slightly overwhelming, but it appears that the “Bridgerton” cast welcomed Ashley and Chandran with open arms. “There was a lot of Instagram DM sliding,” Ashley tells POPSUGAR, adding, “Everyone in the cast was so warm and welcoming and just sent a message, just understanding how overwhelming and exciting it would feel.” According to Chandran, the pair had “the ideal first day, because it was like a baptism of fire. It was a such a large group scene, so we got to meet everyone straight out of the gate. We met everyone at once, and it was the perfect way to do it.”
In terms of what to expect from their characters, Chandran says the audience will likely connect most with the Sharma family. “I think that the Sharmas are really an interesting family. I like to think that they’re sort of the audience’s perspective, in that they’re not accustomed to the ton,” Chandran says. “They’re not familiar with its dealings, and they have their own ideas. They’re sort of the audience’s advocates. I think particularly with Kate and Edwina, you see a lot of sibling relationships [in “Bridgerton”], but I think theirs is super unique because, again, they only have each other, and they’ve grown up in isolation. With that comes an increased dependency and higher stakes.”
“I think when you’re growing up as immigrants’ children, sometimes it’s so hard to figure out your identity. You sometimes don’t know where you belong.”
One of the key focuses in season two is the love triangle between Edwina, Kate, and Anthony, a storyline which Ashley says “really does represent the loving relationship between Edwina and Kate.” “What’s so special about it is the roles kind of reverse a little bit throughout the series,” she says. “You first see Kate being this incredibly protective sister – sometimes maybe a little too overly protective – and Edwina is obviously this diamond.”
Later in the series, it appears, Edwina becomes more of a focus, and viewers witness quite a big shift in her character’s development. “Actually, Kate learns a lot more from Edwina as the series goes on, and I think the arc is just really interesting,” Ashley says. “Charithra’s performance is so powerful and comes out with a bang. Even during the scenes during that episode, you really find the depth within this family.” She adds: “It all really comes to a head and comes to life; it’s a really earned moment as well. What I like about the Sharmas is that there is a bit of a sense of mystery to them. The stakes are high for them. They have to be protective of themselves. It’s kind of like a spy pact. You really then slowly start to get through the cracks and see what this family’s about and what the history is. They have to fall apart to then bond, to become much stronger together.”
One aspect about the Sharmas’ arrival that’s exciting to South Asian viewers in particular is the addition of a Bollywood song to season two’s soundtrack. The track is the title song of an iconic Bollywood film, “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham,” which resonates with millions of viewers across the Indian diaspora.
“It’s so much fun,” Ashley says of the song’s inclusion. “What this show has done has just brought a sense of joy to representing many different cultures and, for this one specifically, South Asian cultures. I can’t speak for everyone, but my intention is to just bring the fun and joy up out of that. Representation, diversity on screen, it’s a complex conversation that we’re all having all the time, and it’s an important one. For me, personally, I just want to bring the fun to it now and the normality and the joy. To bring that through music in such an amazing scene, which we had so much fun filming – it brings a smile to my face.”
The significance of the song didn’t go unnoticed for Chandran, either. “That movie and that song is a Bollywood staple. Everyone’s raised with it,” she says. “As the song came on, I immediately paused and texted Chris, like, ‘This literally brought tears to my eyes.’ It was the collision of both of my worlds, and I think when you’re growing up as immigrants’ children, sometimes it’s so hard to figure out your identity. You sometimes don’t know where you belong. [Hearing the song] was one of those defining moments where you go, ‘Ah, OK. I get it now. I can be both, and I can do both.’ Especially with that song, it’s such a family song, and it’s got a great meaning behind it that I think the scene also represents. For me, it was like, ‘Wow, that’s kind of indicative of my identity, and I love that.’ It was really special, and I’m so grateful.”
“Bridgerton” season two will be available to stream on Netflix on March 25.