Sanjay Kapoor on shooting ‘The Gone Game’: “The fun was in the challenges”

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Directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, Voot Select’s latest four-part thriller series The Gone Game starring Sanjay Kapoor, Arjun Mathur, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Shweta Tripathi Sharma started streaming recently. The show revolves around Sahil Gujral (Mathur) who is declared dead after suffering from coronavirus but his family believes there is more to his death than what meets the eyes.

BizAsiaLive.com caught up with Sanjay Kapoor for an exclusive chat, who essays the role of Sahil’s father Rajiv Gujral in the show.

The show has been entirely shot from home without flouting any Covid-19 lockdown rules. How was the experience of having to shoot everything yourself?
I hope this pandemic gets over as soon as possible but this was fantastic… I never thought that after working for the past 40 years, a day will come where I’ll be shooting with eight to nine actors and not meet any of them! It’s not even a short film, it’s an entire web show and I didn’t even meet the director. I shot everything by myself and that was a wonderful experience. You always learn in this industry and I’m really happy with the way things happened. I really think it was the positivity of the actors, the direction team, the production team that made this possible. When you see the show, you’ll realise that so much is happening in this thriller, it’s hard to believe that it’s been shot by the actors themselves. My son helped me with few of the ‘objective shots’ and it was a great experience.

How challenging was it?
The fun was in the challenges. When we started off, we knew it was difficult but when I look back, I never thought I’d be having so much fun. I felt this was much more tiring than when you shoot on a set. When the lighting is being prepared or a rehearsal is happening, you go back to the van. Here, if one shot was over, you had to work on the next shot yourself. The workload was 10 times more in this but it was a lot of fun. Even though the director Nikhil and the cinematographer Piyush (Puty) were on video calls, they really helped us and get through this with a lot of positivity.

What appealed to you about the story?
It wasn’t like a regular script ke chalo ghar pe shoot kar lete hain, two romantic lines, one scene with the mother, one scene with the father. Even though we were shooting at home, it had to be written well and edited well. It’s a whodunit thriller and there were so many layers to it that’s so appealing about the show. Even though we were shooting during a pandemic, there’s so much more to the show.

Tell us a bit more about your character Rajiv Gujral.
I’m the head of the Gujral family and we are in different cities during the pandemic. When the son gets coronavirus and apparently dies, we wonder whether he has really died because of the virus or kidnapped or murdered. My character is a typical rich Delhi guy, he’s also a flirt who has a woman by his side even though he is a married man. He has ups and downs in his business but eventually everything becomes secondary and family becomes the most important. There’s a lot of layers to him, it starts off with him having fun with his girlfriend and enjoying life but everything changes about him as the show progresses.

We’ve seen you before in Netflix’s ‘Lust Stories’. Are you enjoying the digital medium now?
I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve been working in a lot of web shows now, it feels great. In digital, you can cater to a certain kind of audience and do it with a lot of conviction. You don’t need to worry about things like how many songs to put in it or whether it’ll work in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. When the writer is writing the script, he’s not thinking about these things. The characters are much more interesting and believable. Today a lot of films are being made but I’d say only 10% of the characters in them are believable. But when you watch a web show, you feel you’ve seen this person somewhere in real life. A lot of good characters have come up thanks to the digital medium, there’s a lot of freshness, there are no same set of villains, character actors and heroes. Everyday you’re seeing somebody new and I’m really enjoying this medium. When I did films like Mission Mangal or Luck by Chance, I was part of an ensemble cast. But in digital, fortunately I’m playing the protagonist or the main role. Besides keeping myself busy and taking care of my bread and butter, it’s also very exciting and creatively satisfying.

Personally, how have you been coping with the lockdown since March?
At a time when the level of frustration and desperation would’ve reached its peak, I was fortunate to get this show. It kept me busy but I’m otherwise a very patient man. I made the most of it, of course there were moments when I wanted to go out and meet people. My mother is so much older and I didn’t want her to be exposed to any of us, none of us went to meet her and that was the worst part of this pandemic. I finally met her after four months and that was the best. I still had to sit far with the mask on. We are still fortunate, my wife Maheep is there, my children are here and things are in control. But it’s really sad what is happening in the world and so many people are having to go through so much. It’s really amazing what the frontline workers are doing, if I have to wear a mask to go and meet my mom then that’s okay, the frontline workers are wearing it throughout the day!

What according to you is going to be the biggest USP of ‘The Gone Game’ compared to other web shows?
The USP is that we made a thriller sitting at home. I’d say there are eight or nine cameramen in this film and Piyush was the head. All the actors were doing their own lighting, camera, make-up… that’s something very unique. When people watch it, they’ll wonder how people managed to sit and shoot this at home so well.

What shows are you binging on right now?
I just finished watching this show called Devs on Hotstar and I really liked it.

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

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