The actors also talk about their lockdown experience, films vs web series, and more
Mirzapur is a testosterone-heavy show. Set in the eponymous city of Uttar Pradesh, the web series has crime, corruption, mafia, and more and more men. But the women, despite being outnumbered by men in this violent world, are neither inconsequential nor damsels in distress; they, too, are powerful agents. Their character arcs are as dramatic as of their male counterparts. The trailer of the show’s second season promises interesting developments especially for Beena Tripathi (played by Rasika Dugal) and Gajgamini ‘Golu’ Gupta (Shweta Tripathi).
Rasika and Shweta talk about the show, their lockdown experience, films vs web series, and more.
Firstly, how was your experience during the lockdown?
Rasika: It’s been up and down like it has been for everybody else. I managed to keep myself busy. I did things I wouldn’t have before. I co-wrote a short film with my husband called The Banana Bread, which is about two people who live in a house and what they go through during the lockdown. It was a way of responding to the strange times we are living in.
For the last one and a half years, I was working continuously. So, I welcomed this pause though I wish the circumstance that led to it was different. A lot has happened in the news, starting with the migrant labor crisis, which was a big humanitarian crisis. I still can’t understand how something as careless as that could have happened in our country.
Shweta: After shooting for Mirzapur last September, I was at home waiting for the right kind of project. So, my lockdown, in a way, started early. That phase leading up to the actual lockdown was tough. I wasn’t happy with the work I was getting. There were tears, mood swings, and all that. But during the lockdown, I had a lot of work. I had promotions for my new releases: Raat Akeli Hai, Cargo, and The Gone Game, which was shot at my home. That was exciting.
There was a considerable gap between seasons one and two of Mirzapur. Was it challenging to get back into your characters?
Rasika: What I found challenging was to revisit a character after listening to people talk about it. Once you have watched that character and heard many opinions about it, your personal equation with that character gets corrupted. So, I felt like I had to forget all that before going into season twp. So, that was my worry more than the time gap. We worked with the same team that did season one. And, they were so in sync with the characters. So, it was easier for me to reacquaint with my character.
Shweta: I signed up for Mirzapur because of season two. At the first, there isn’t much drama in Golu’s life. And, I am someone who loves drama. Also, we did season one without much expectation. But the show became a big hit. And, the kind of love I received for Golu put some pressure on me. The character has completely flipped from season one. Her situations have changed. The people she loved have been taken away from her. She looks different. Her hair is shorter, there’s a scar on her face, clothes have changed.
Mirzapur has a sprawling cast. Do you closely follow the story arcs of all the characters or do you focus on your characters and the ones they interact with?
Rasika: I read the whole script. But I don’t watch the series so many times after it’s out. It’s a disconcerting experience to watch yourself on screen all the time. I have watched the show only once in its entirety.
Shweta: I don’t follow the character graphs of others. When you are reading the script for the first time, you want to know what happens. So, that’s exciting. But in a long show, it’s difficult to store all the information about everyone.
As actors, do web series liberate you, in terms of your performances and the choices of roles, as compared to the cinema?
Shweta: As actors, good roles liberate us. It depends on the project. It could even be a radio show with just my voice. But a web series allows more time to explore characters. So, I love sinking my teeth into such fleshed-out characters. The characters you see in OTT aren’t dry-cleaned. They are flawed yet you love them.
Rasika: A well-written story liberates me. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a film or OTT. But streaming platforms have written pathbreaking content over the last few years. The long format also gives room for the entire ensemble to flourish. I have wondered if Beena Tripathi could have been a strong character in a film. Maybe she would have been a victim of editing. It’s not to say that cinema has less interesting content. Qissa, for instance, has been my best experience as an actor. But I have never been a part of many mainstream cinemas. So, I can’t comment on that.
Do you see OTT platforms as a totally different ballgame compared to the cinema? Do you prioritize one over the other?
Shweta: I think the priority is always for good stories and roles. It depends on who you are working with. But I think web series is a bigger commitment. In a way, it’s a bigger risk. If a film of yours is bad, you can move on to the next one. But if the first season of a series is bad, you might still have to stick with it till it’s over. And, because of the duration of the show, it’s more challenging to act in a series as well. You have to stay with the character for a long time.
Rasika: I actually enjoy shooting in a longer format. Because I feel you get more time to sink into the character. With a film, I have to walk in very prepared. In case my preparation is not in sync with the director’s vision, then I have to totally realign quickly. But in a series, I have more time to warm up to my character. The scenes also have a leisurely quality to them. Even the characters, who might not be central to the main plot, are explored.