What makes an actor choose a particular role? It is a combination of timing, story and mood. When Shashank Khaitan told actor Vicky Kaushal that he was writing a comedy about a background Bollywood dancer named Govinda who has all sorts of love troubles, the first Covid-19 lockdown had just started. Kaushal had just wrapped up Sardar Udham, one of a series of intense roles after his commercial hit Uri: The Surgical Strike in 2019. By the time the script was finalised and narrated, Kaushal was in the mood for some fun, and he felt the country would be too, after the horrors of Covid. A comedy of confusion and chaos, a throwback to the 1990s, was just what was needed, felt Kaushal. He signed on and started re-watching movies starring Govinda, or directed by Priyadarshan and David Dhawan. He also had to be more alive in the moment when the film was being shot. “The comedy of Govinda Naam Mera is Chaplinesque,” says Kaushal. “The performance has to be more theatrical rather than internal,” he adds. “After all the readings, you need to not overthink.” Comedy, he feels, requires a lot more interaction with fellow actors, with a lot of give and take. Govinda Naam Mera was shot in July-August 2021 after a brief spell earlier during which both Kaushal and his co-star Bhumi Pednekar caught the virus. Between then and now, Kaushal has seen only a rough version of the film, and will see the final version only around the time the rest of the world does on Disney+Hotstar. So, how does an actor promote a movie which he has not seen in totality and after he has moved on to other work? Kaushal is in the midst of shooting Sam Bahadur, Meghna Gulzar’s biopic of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Since Govinda Naam Mera he has shot three more movies —for Maddock Films with Laxman Utekar, for Yash Raj Films with Vijay Krishna Acharya, and for Dharma Productions with his long-time friend Anand Tiwari. So, as an actor, does he feel insecure to be out of sight, out of mind, given Sardar Udham was released over a year ago? “I’ve always been detached,” he says, pointing to the training his parents gave him since he was in school at Gyan Kendra, Mumbai. “It was ingrained in me as a child. I was told to work hard, yet never be dependent on the result. It was just important to know that I had given it my best shot,” he says, adding he is happy in enjoying the moment, and totally consumed by what he is doing. “This is who I am.” Audiences seem to like what they see, so far.
Choosing Her Craft
“They will tell you to straighten your hair, that your face should be 24 inches, that you should wear heels, and always be seen with make-up. They’ll tell you to post more Instagram reels, to get your social media game up. No one tells you to work on your acting,” says Saiyami Kher, star of SonyLIV’s new show, Faadu. ‘They’ refers to the army of managers, image makers and social media advisers an actor acquires once she becomes a star. “More than anything else, it is heavy on one’s pockets. For every awards show, you have to invest in clothes, hair, and make-up,” she says. Kher thinks she is fortunate she came into the industry with directors such as Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Mirzya, 2016) and Anurag Kashyap, (Choked, 2020) who focused on working for the screen rather than for the red carpet. Not to say she doesn’t have aspirations to wear a chiffon sari and dance in Switzerland. “That’s the image of romance we all grew up with, right?” she says. Whenever she has downtime, instead of staring at the ceiling and wallowing in self-pity, Kher says she packs her bags and goes off to Delhi to work on her acting with her gurus Adil Hussain and Dilip Shankar. Or work on her diction, or her running. Post Mirzya, she ran a marathon in five hours, and says she learnt a lot about herself. Or she takes her backpack and travels.
Scene and Heard
Those waiting for Season Two of The Fame Game, Aranyak, Bombay Begums and the third season of Sacred Games may have to wait forever. Netflix seems to have changed its mind on the popular shows, and wants to create what it feels are more populist universes like Khakee: The Bihar Chapter and Jamtara: Sabka Number Ayega. Will it work for the streaming service whose CEO Reed Hastings had promised to acquire the next 100 million subscribers from India?