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Arjun Mathur was seen playing a pivotal role in Voot Select’s shot-at-home four-episode web series ‘The Gone Game’ that started streaming on 20th August. Also starring Shreya Pilgaonkar, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Sanjay Kapoor, Rukhsar Rehman, Indraneil Sengupta and Lubna Salim, the show directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, revolves around the members of the Gujral family who are stuck at different places amidst the global pandemic. caught up with the 38-year-old Mathur, who plays Sahil Gujral, whose mysterious death citing COVID-19 as the reason raises suspicion amongst his family members.

How was the experience of shooting everything on your own from home?
It wasn’t easy, it was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It was difficult yet rewarding because after finishing it I felt like, ‘wow I did this with whatever resources I had at home and with the people I had around me’. Each actor did that from their homes and that’s quite amazing. Since it was our own home, we were more familiar with the place and so by default all the actors were more involved in the storytelling than how an actor usually gets to be.

Did you set up the lights and camera and shot everything on your own?
My partner, whom I live with, and another friend helped in operating the camera for me, the three of us were doing all the work that usually different teams do on a film set. It was hard and laborious, from shifting the furniture around to setting up lights and holding up reflectors to doing the data transfers, we were doing everything. At times it was frustrating but overall, in retrospect, it was fun.

What can you tell us about your character Sahil Gujral?
I did not prepare for the character at all (laughs). He’s a very simple guy, there’s nothing really special about him. He’s a loving husband, trying to be a good son and brother… he’s pretty much defined by his relationships. I’ve done a film with the director before called Brij Mohan Amar Rahe and since then I’ve been wanting to work with Nikhil again. When I got a call for this, I jumped at it because of Nikhil and also because of the way it was being shot, it was a great challenge and I’m always up for that. I knew that this particular challenge is in the able hands of Nikhil Bhat, so it was going to be something special. Usually we have readings, rehearsals, we get to talk about our scenes but here none of that was happening. All the characters were quite disconnected from one another, so even though I read the script once, I wasn’t always clear all the time about everybody else’s track. I used to shoot for one day and then have a four day break where used to I get back to my lockdown life, then again come back to shoot… it wasn’t easy to maintain the character over an extended period of time with breaks in between. On all my shooting days, I was quite confused about the timelines and I had to completely trust Nikhil with what he was talking about and I just did what was required. I was blindly following Nikhil’s instructions… it’s going to be a completely new experience for me when I watch the show because I wasn’t clear about the plot, story and the intricacies of it while shooting.

Any funny anecdotes from this home shoot?
While shooting for it, we were in strict lockdown and our societies were also being very strict about people entering the premises or us loitering around in the corridors. People were supposed to stay in their homes and not on the staircase or passages. I had already shot for one short film before this at home called Home Stories for Netflix, it was around two weeks before The Gone Game. That time also we had shot it very discreetly along with my girlfriend whom I live with and my friend Jay Oza who lives near me, he’s a cinematographer who’s shot films like Gully Boy. He was shooting my scenes for me, so we had kind of already gone through that experience before. While shooting one scene outside during The Gone Game, I saw two boys coming down from the stairs and I panicked thinking the shoot would be stopped. But they just stopped and said, ‘We just saw your short film on Netflix and we are looking forward to this.’ I was so relieved. Overall, the entire season was shot within two to three weeks maximum.

You were fantastic in ‘Made In Heaven’ (web series on Amazon Prime) last year. Are you enjoying working in the digital medium now?
I’m comfortable in every medium to be honest, an actor’s job is to act and it’s the producer’s job to decide which medium it is going to appear in. I’ve always been for OTT platforms, I’m not one of those actors who’s been getting leading offers from big-budget A-list Bollywood films. So this is a medium and space that I get to thrive in. Made In Heaven did certain things for me that was great. I’m really enjoying it because it’s an extended format, it allows the storytellers and the actors to really dive deep in the characters and explore many sides. I was always comfortable in this space and that’s why I was the way I was in Made In Heaven. Films have their own rewards too but now even the biggest of Bollywood films are releasing on this medium. It’s best for an actor to be comfortable with everything but I do agree this is more of my space to thrive in, certainly. It’s a lot more grounded.

What shows are you currently binging on online?
The last show that I watched and really enjoyed was this show called This Is Us. I was consuming so much dark and serious content, that this show was really refreshing after that. It was recommended to me by my brother and the show was beautiful and emotional. It’s about a family of five, there are three siblings and they lose a parent and that’s literally my own life story. We are three siblings, I’m in the middle and we lost our mother when we were really young… I could relate with a lot of those conflicts in the show. I’m like Kevin (played by Justin Hartley) who has an attention problem and then he goes on and becomes an actor. My girlfriend and I were watching it together and then hiding from each other while crying (laughs).

‘The Gone Game’ is now streaming on Voot Select.