Having worked on films like ‘Qissa’ with Irrfan Khan, ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’ which was voted as the most endearing film of 2017 and was most recently featured in ‘Lust Stories’ in Zoya Akhtar’s short and web shows like ‘Humorously Yours’, Dugal was soon noticed for the ample of talent she possesses.
Her biggest project, ‘Manto’ by Nandita Das, sees her essaying the role of Manto’s wife, Safia. Soon after she will be seen in Amazon Prime’s next original series, ‘Mirzapur’ followed by another web show, Delhi Police based on the Nirbhaya rape case. She will also be seen as the lead in Hamid produced by Saregama, a film based in Kashmir speaking of the integral topic of Kashmiri women’s plight whose husbands are taken away by militant groups. Apart from this, she recently wrapped up shoot for the Sanjay Mishra starrer, ‘Mahatma’, a film revolving around a man who claims to be the reincarnation of Gandhi.
BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the actress.
‘Manto’ was premiered at Cannes and is up for release soon. What was the biggest reason you signed the film?
For Manto. I had been an avid reader of his work. And a story about him and his fight for free speech was long overdue . I think it is a very important film for the times we live in where freedom of speech and expression is being threatened . And it is important to revisit Manto and find your own ‘Mantoiyat’.
Has your theatre background been a Godsend when entering the big screen?
I trained in acting at the Film and Television institute of India (FTII, Pune ). So my initial training was in film. And film has always been my first love. However, when I moved to Bombay after FTII I had more work in theatre than in film. I enjoyed being on stage a lot. And thoroughly enjoyed performing in The Vagina Monologues for almost nine years. I think we can definitely take the practice of rigorous rehearsal from the theatre to films. Some people think that film should be ‘spontaneous’. I believe it should be so well rehearsed that it looks spontaneous. In theatre you will always have another show to change things around and experiment but in film, what you do on a day of shoot is there forever.
Now that the digital arena is changing things up for the world but also in India, how much focus do you personally want to have on the content of what you’re a part of?
Content is king. It has been said many times before and I couldn’t agree more.There is nothing you can do as a performer if you don’t have a good script to begin with.I think this is also a good time for all of us to generate our own content rather than wait around for that perfect role to come around. I find myself wishing I was a writer too! But, I guess, there is always room for interesting collaborations… As soon as I have time from my existing commitments.
Are you drawn to performance oriented roles naturally?
Of course. I am a performer and my biggest excitement is to get an opportunity to explore different facets of that. To experiment with my craft and to find a process that works for me and then throw that out and find a new one. To travel with the character through a film. To give something to the character and take something from it. To learn a new skill. To surprise myself and to experience magical moments with my co actors.
You have some interesting web projects lined up & are fast becoming a well-known face in the online-streaming world for India. What most excites you personally about that platform – apart from the lack of censorship and focus on content?
The idea that your film /show is there for anyone to watch long after it first comes out. It is archived online. People can watch it when they feel drawn to it and also revisit it whenever they want to. The life of a piece of work is no longer determined by the number of days it is running in the theatre or till when it is on air.
I also enjoy shooting for the series format. It gives room for many more characters and for each one of them to be well fleshed out. Also, as an actor, I really get the space in the script to warm up to my character and then build it from there.
As an actor, what most excites you about today’s opportunities?
I think it is a really exciting time for actors. There is so much work these days whether it’s film, short films or web shows. I think the web has given an opportunity for new players to join the game and make a mark for themselves. There is a new energy and everyone has been jolted out of their complacency. The web has proved that the audience is ready for much more than what we have been giving them. So people are finally writing interesting stories and with interesting women characters (even though we still have a long way to go in that department).
Recently, there was talk that Radhika Apte was “being seen to much”, according to social media. You have a crossover of platforms somewhat. When do you feel something is too much?
Really ? I hadn’t heard of this. I think Radhika is a great performer and personally I could never have enough of her. I am delighted to see her do a variety of work.
I think as creative people we should experiment with different kinds of scripts, mediums and characters. As much as we have an appetite for. When we don’t want to do something and when we feel like it’s enough or too much is a very personal decision and no one else and nothing else should decide that for us!
BizAsiaLive.com thanks Rasika Dugal for talking to us.