Kriti Kharbanda, Pulkit Samrat on reuniting for Taish: Bejoy Nambiar made our entry into the thriller zone very convincing
Kriti Kharbanda and Pulkit Samrat discuss how different and challenging was it to venture outside of their comfort zone of romantic comedies, through Bejoy Nambiar's ZEE5 thriller Taish.
However, this time, it is an altogether different space for both the actors as they break away from mainstream, frothy entertainers, and transition into a dark and intense zone. “Also, it is the first time that we are cast together in a film but we are not opposite each other,” says Kharbanda.
“Bejoy has always been one of my favourite directors, and he had been on my bucket list since the time I had come to Mumbai to become an actor. Today I am an integral part of his film. And I am twice lucky since the film is also in the format of a web series. You like challenges thrown at you, and I think it was the same for me because I have never done a thriller. I have never done an action revenge drama. I have only done hasee mazaak (comedy), love, romance on screen, and I was very challenged to do this, and that too with Bejoy, who is one of the finest thriller filmmakers that we have. Today, if people are appreciating me on how I look in the film, how I talk in the film, how I walk in the film, well, I couldn’t have done this alone," she adds.
Kharbanda plays an orthopedic surgeon, a Pakistani-Muslim who is born and raised in London. “My character comes from a broken family. She comes with a set of anxiety, inhibitions. She is a perfect blend of strength and vulnerability, and that is what fascinated me about her,” says the actress, who shot for Taish around the same time when she was shooting and promoting Housefull 4 and Pagalpanti.
“I don’t know comic timing in my real life but it always works on screen. But my character Arfa in Taish is extremely close to my heart and I can genuinely relate to her because it is not just rage, she also has patience, understanding, and empathy in her. The only challenge to play her was to break out of the mould as I was doing two comedies around the same time. Just after I finished Pagalpanti, Housefull 4 promotions had started, and I shot Taish in the midst of all that. It was difficult to get a different look but I loved being challenged every single day in that space of intensity. It has been the most fun shoot I have ever had, and I enjoyed every moment of being Arfa. It was never a burden,” says Kharbanda.
“Last few years that I have been in the industry,” she continues, “I have been part of very commercial cinema in the mainstream zone but a lot of people didn’t know that this (thriller) is the space I have been waiting for a really long time. But I wanted to make sure that I work with the best in the industry, and when Bejoy approached me with the script, I knew it fascinated me. And Bejoy is one of those few directors who is willing to take that risk with an actor. He is willing to see you in a different light from what you really are, or the characters you have portrayed in the past. I don’t want to get slotted, and that can happen if you play each character differently and to keep that up I am now getting more opportunities. Earlier, nobody offered me a Taish, thinking that I would only do commercial movies.
Not many people know that it was Bejoy Nambiar who recommended my name to director Akarsh Khurana for Karwaan, and Karwaan is the reason why I was cast in Taish. Bejoy liked me in that 10-minute role.
Now with Taish, people will realise that I am open to looking at new stuff and will stop categorising me.”
Taish is an ensemble that also stars Jim Sarbh, Harshvardhan Rane, Abhimanyu Singh, Ankur Rathee, Saurabh Sachdeva, and Sanjeeda Sheikh among others. While it was a challenge for the director convincing actors to join the ensemble, for Samrat, it was exciting to be part of a multi-starrer yet once again.
“When I listen to a script, be it Fukrey, or be it Taish, I don’t see the number of characters, or the screen space that I am getting, I see the film from a director’s vision.
I feel actors shouldn’t mind doing ensemble films if they are convinced about the director’s capabilities. Such uncertainties arise in artists only when they assess the script with a narrow, selfish perspective, Not many directors can efficiently handle ensembles, but I have been lucky to work with three such filmmakers — Zoya Akhtar (Made In Heaven), Mrigdeep Singh Lamba (Fukrey), and now Bejoy. It’s been a fabulous experience," said Samrat. “Harshvardhan, Jim, and me, we all come from very different schools of acting, and that was the most exciting part. I learnt a lot from Jim, whether it is the way he approaches his character or his thought process. Majority of my parts are with Jim, and there’s a lot of bromance happening between us,” he adds.
While doing a thriller for the first time may have not been difficult for Samrat, he was certainly anxious about how the director perceived his work. "It was not difficult. Just that it required a leap of faith, and that was the only difficult part. I often wondered whether Bejoy would be happy with my work. Can I ask him questions? How do I approach my character? But Bejoy trusted me, and that brought the confidence in me. He gives a lot of freedom to his actors. He will let you approach the character the way you want without disturbing the character that he has visualised or the emotion that he wants and the story that he wants to come out. I feel very lucky that I got the chance to work with Bejoy at a time when the audience is also open to accepting multi-layered, complex characters," says Samrat.
Taish is streaming on ZEE5 as a film and a six-part limited series.
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