(From L to R) Rasika Dugal, Richie Mehta and Swastika Mukherjee
One of the many perks of being an actor is the many lives one gets to lead. So even as Rasika Dugal learns to play the piano for a new role, she relives the three months she had in which she learnt to play volleyball for a new series, Spike, where she plays a coach, all the while savouring the five days spent shadowing a police officer who helped her in Season 1 of Delhi Crime. “She is now posted in Chandigarh and it was so exciting to follow her and see her solving a new problem every half hour,” says Dugal, who is currently shooting for Amazon Prime Video’s Mirzapur Season 3 and has Beena Tripathi on her mind. Dugal, who played Neeti Singh in Season 2 in Netflix’s Delhi Crime, said, “We wanted to make this about two people trying to make their marriage work, and how women are not absolved of their responsibilities at home because of their professional responsibilities. It was more lived in, very different from the unsure police officer she was in Season 2.” She says she still feels guilty for being late to a fictional crime scene. “Like Neeti Singh, I take my work seriously, so I really relate to her. She’s so apologetic for two suspects slipping through her custody, and her husband is so insensitive to her disappointment. He just cannot understand how Neeti feels so much for her job. It is the intent of the work we do that it resonates with people. This is how we treat women in our society every day, which is the reason for bigger crimes,” she adds. The International Emmy-winning series has given Dugal a high profile and the chance to explore both the world of crime and the people who investigate them. Her work gives her the opportunity to be different people. As she says: “There’s a tune in my head all day from practising the piano, and even when I shoot Mirzapur, I carry my synthesiser with me so I can practise an hour every day. So when I have to play Beena, I sing the folk song they perform at the godh bharai to get into the zone,” says one of the most accomplished actors on the screen, big and small.
Outside Her Comfort Zone
“I could have remained in Bengali cinema and been happy in my comfort zone. But I wanted to challenge myself,” says Swastika Mukherjee, who is in Season 3 of Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach on Disney+Hotstar. Mukherjee is an established actor in Bengali cinema but came to national prominence with roles in Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015) and Amazon Prime Video’s Paatal Lok (2020). Since then her career in Mumbai has burgeoned with roles in Disney+Hotstar’s Dil Bechara (2020) and Escaype Live (2022). She will soon be seen in Anvita Dutt’s Netflix movie Qala. Mukherjee is that rare actor who doesn’t like to do the expected, and stands up for what she believes in, whether it is in the roles she chooses (she refuses to do “bechari naari” roles) or her personal choices. A single mother, she often reacts on social media to young women who want support to live their lives with dignity and liberty. And she is always ready to learn something new. “I remember in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! Dibakar refused to let me use glycerine for a scene in which I had to cry, saying he was happy to wait until I felt it from within. When I did, the shot was so much better,” she recalls. A style icon, she wears everything from the very masculine dhoti-kurta to the ultra-feminine Paromita Banerjee sari.
Scene and Heard
He was credited as executive producer in the second season of Delhi Crime but Richie Mehta has been busy elsewhere, researching and shooting Poachers, a crime series related to elephant poaching in India. Roshan Mathew, last seen as Zulfi in Netflix’s Darlings, and Kani Kusruti, Rani Bharti’s trusted lieutenant in SonyLIV’s Maharani Season 1 and 2, star along with Dibyendu Bhattacharya whose career has been full of small and startling roles, most recently in SonyLIV’s Rocket Boys.
He Said It
Nawazuddin Siddiqui said recently: “Kisi bhi khoobsoorat ladke ko lekar actor bana do. Training ki kya zaroorat hai? That’s what Bollywood believes in (Bollywood thinks all it needs is to take a beautiful boy and make him an actor. What’s the need for training?)” Hard to disagree.