Out of Love: Rasika Dugal, Purab Kohli on reprising their characters in Season 2, working with director Oni Sen
Rasika Dugal and Purab Kohli, the lead pair of Disney+ Hotstar VIP show Out of Love, share details about the new season, their offscreen friendship.
Three years after discovering his betrayal and ejecting her husband Akarsh out of her life and home, Dr. Meera Kapoor’s ex-husband is back and he’s baying for blood.
Rasika Dugal and Purab Kohli reprise their roles as Meera and Akarsh in the second season of Out of Love. Directed by Oni Sen, the five-episode season also stars Meenakshi Chaudhary, Sanghmitra Hitaishi, Harsh Chhaya, Ekavali Khanna and Suhaas Ahuja.
In separate calls – Dugal in Mumbai and Kohli in London – the lead pair of the Disney+ Hotstar VIP show, that is a remake of the British drama Doctor Foster, share details about the new season and their offscreen friendship.
Rasika, where do we see your character go in the new season?
Dugal: I love Meera, but she does err. She makes a lot of decisions that are instinctive, which could be perceived as erratic or reckless. It depends on the viewer. But for me to embody her it was important that I empathise with her decisions. This season is psychological warfare between Akarsh and Meera and it may not make logical sense. Some of those decisions are not serving anyone well, not even their child. The success of this story will be measured when the viewer is also ambivalent, in the sense that we empathise with her, but we also see that he too has a point. Let’s just say Out of Love season 2 is a very intimate revenge drama in which both sides are working with knowledge of the other's Achilles’ Heel.
What do you enjoy most about having a second season and how have you been able to influence the graph of your characters ?
Dugal: Firstly I was relieved the second starts in a happy space for Meera. I had missed seeing a happy side to her. And every time there is a light-hearted scene in a series I grab it with both hands, because those are the only ones where you get to wear yellow and smile and wave. The rest of the time is emotionally draining where your character – in this case Meera – is just seething inside. Unexpectedly, and this gives me great joy as an actor, this season really helped me understand what it means to be a parent. That is not something I have life experience in, and I have not been very empathetic to people who talk about their experiences as parents. Someone once said that you understand true fear when you become a parent. After this season I really understood the kind of vulnerability you allow into your life once you decide to be a parent. That discovery became my emotional connect to the show.
Kohli: I had seen the original, Doctor Foster even before I got a call for the part Akarsh in the Indian remake. I was sceptical because basically he’s an asshole. Did I really want to play this cheating husband who elicits no empathy at all? At first I thought maybe it is a flaw in the writing because in a feminist kind of show you forget the male character and make him an out-and-out bad guy, which is what season one did. But I took on the challenge: how do you build empathy, how do you play him? When I met Oni he said to me that the biggest problem with Akarsh is that not too much empathy is built around him. I was so grateful that he saw it too. The writers have worked on Akarsh’s character such that I feel he is now the best character, and not just because I am playing him but because of his graph. It was sheer joy being that asshole in season two.
Since it seems to be a theme, would you say revenge is a dish best served cold or does it need to simmer?
Dugal: I think it is always simmering. Revenge is also a very tough one to play because of the intensity. The stakes are so high, which removes the possibility of any nuance at a particular moment. You would be responding to so many simmering emotions, which converges to rage where you almost don’t recognise the character.
Kohli: Revenge is definitely not simmering. It simmered between the two seasons. Now he wants to go full throttle. He steps in as a sweet tasting dish and then as you move along the episodes you realise there is a fire raging within. He is there for revenge and that affects Meera’s actions. She’s not Miss Goody two-shoes either. By the end she too is going for the jugular. That makes the drama so exciting and intense and that excitement draws them to each other.
The first season was directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Aijaz Khan, but this season is helmed by Oni Sen. How was the transition?
Kohli: I found the shift of directors in the first season harder so one director on an entire season is great. We came back to the story after one and a half years so it was like a fresh project, which you understand from a new director’s point of view. I had a little trouble working with two directors. Even though they were both great, it was shaky for me as an actor. Oni and I were on the same page.
Dugal: I was very happy to have the same director for all the episodes. Within a season to have different parts directed by two directors is not always easy. It was very easy on Mirzapur because the directors were very aligned with each other. So I enjoyed watching that collaboration. During season one it I had to realign myself and adjust to different styles of working. I felt relief this season with just one vision guiding it. I had worked with Oni in some ads. He has also directed the show Asur.
Purab, would you be interested in a season three, if there was one?
The hope is that the character can be followed but it’s a double-edged sword. The problem with series work is that they don’t end. But then it’s also exciting. And season two will leave you wanting more. It’s very hard writing sequels. Doctor Foster also only had two seasons. It can get boring playing the same thing, which happened with Akarsh. He was a cheating, lying, hiding, spineless husband. But now he has the strength and power to take revenge and has reason for it, namely his son.
What was it like working with each other?
Dugal: Purab and I have known each other for many years so there is a familiarity and comfort which is very helpful especially on long schedules. We are both always seeking healthy food. Ninety percent of our conversations are about food – but very boring food. You could say we have a healthy, boring food relationship.
Kohli: I know Rasika from when she was a student at FTII. We have also a part of some films in the past such as ‘Manto’, even though we did not have scenes together. This is the first time we have worked so directly with each other with such good scenes. Few actors work towards the betterment of the scene, as in how is the scene turning out with me performing in it as opposed to constantly worrying about one’s individual performance. I try to approach a scene that way and so does Rasika. When some of the writing does not work we make suggestions and as actors you try to accommodate your co-stars instincts and ideas. In that way we take care of each other.
The first two episodes of Out of Love Season 2 will launch on Disney+ Hotstar VIP on 30 March, followed by a weekly episodic release
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