Mukul Chadda: “Loving the love both ‘Sunflower’ & ‘Sherni’ are getting…”

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Mukul Chadda has had two releases of late – ‘Sunflower’ on ZEE5 and ‘Sherni’ on Amazon Prime and he’s been appreciated in both. With so many talents aside from acting and, it’s no doubt that these roles will elevate the actor to other very worthy projects.

BizAsia’s Amrita Tanna caught up with Chadda to talk about the releases and more.

We last spoke when you were in London. Since then we’ve had a pandemic come our way. How would you describe the last year for you both personally and professionally?
It’s been a bit of a mixed bag. The pandemic has certainly been a dampener for work. On the other hand, I’ve managed to shoot for Sherni, Sunflower, and Bichoo Ka Khel in this period, all of which have been good for me. And if it hadn’t been for the lockdown, we would never have written and made Banana Bread, which has been so fulfilling.

On the personal side, the pandemic has been a downer for everyone. I have to say I do feel lucky on this front – nothing terrible happened to me or to those very close to me.

I learnt to cook, I wrote and made a short film – and hope to write more. Some of these are the silver linings in an otherwise terrible year.

You’ve had two releases in quick succession – ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Sherni’. How are you feeling about the reception you’ve received for both?
Oh, I’m loving the love both projects are getting. They’re also very different projects – in theme, style, length, and genre. And I play very different characters in both. It’s been a happy coincidence for me that they both have released within a week of one another 🙂
I’ve got a lot of appreciation for my performance in Sunflower. It’s also a very different character for me to play, so that feels great. In Sherni – which has been universally loved – I have a small part, but even that seems to have been noticed, so that’s lovely.

What’s been the most interesting part of shooting during the pandemic?
Switching on and off. That’s a challenge even in normal times. But here it was made harder by the need to remind yourself to not worry about distancing – and the other myriad precautions we’ve been so used to this past year – while the shot was on. And then to switch back mentally to masking up and being cautious, when it’s done.

What have the experiences been with the directors of both – Vikas Bahl and Amit Masurkar?
Vikas was very relaxed and calm during the shoot. I’ve rarely seen him serious, he tends to lighten the moment with a joke. And that energy seemed to pervade through the set. It helped that it was a comedy we were shooting! Amit, on the other hand, has a very child-like energy for everything he does – he’s visibly excited about little moments. It’s amazing to me that he’s able to sustain that energy through the day.

Both directors were very clear about what they wanted, as well as being very open to questions and suggestions that I ever had. I don’t think you can ask for more.

Both the projects have particular social/environmental issues at their heart. Do you find you’re particularly drawn to such stories?
More than the relevance of an issue, I’m drawn to how well that issue has been explored and how skillfully it is being communicated. When you can do that, even the smallest of ideas can become very powerful.

What was most challenging about playing both characters?
In Sunflower, I think it was playing the uncontrollable rage of Ahuja that was the biggest challenge for me initially. I’m not like that at all, and I haven’t played a character with that kind of trait either! But it was fun, and the great performances of my co-actors Radha (Mrs. Ahuja), Ashwin (Mr. Kapoor), and Ranvir (Insp. Digendra) helped bring out different shades of Ahuja with each of their characters.

In Sherni, it was the opposite – Pawan’s character is seemingly the kind I get offered to play very often, and the trick was to find ways to differentiate him a little. Also, Amit wanted to use Pawan as a foil to Vidya’s character, and also to show the difficulties in their relationship without underlining it too much. So the challenge was to convey all that, with limited screen time.

What’s coming next for you? Any more short films like Banana Bread? 
There have been plenty of conversations about some very interesting roles and stories, many of which have all been delayed indefinitely ever since the second wave began. Hopefully, those will resume soon. As for writing and making more short films, I’d love to! I hope I can make it happen.

BizAsia thanks Mukul Chadda for talking to us.

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