What about Brown compelled you to sign on?
When I heard the script for Brown I was wowed. The character of Rita Brown is so different, she’s so raw and human. The story touches upon certain topics which are not normally danced with or put forth. I remember my first reaction was, ‘Should I do this?’ After the narration and experiencing the insistence of Abhinay Deo (director) and the entire team of producers at Zee Studios, I decided to take up the challenge of being Rita Brown. It was a wonderful experience.
Your character Rita is an alcoholic, she rolls a joint, too. Once you got acquainted with her was it akin to having a culture shock?
I wouldn’t call it a culture shock, but these are definitely not things that I normally do. I was not in my comfort zone in that sense. But then that is what the challenge of being an actor is, right? And you always want to push yourself. I always want to take myself to the next creative level. Being Rita Brown was an extremely interesting experience and I think a creatively satisfying one at that.
Was it a lot of hard work?
Of course, every show demands a lot of hard work. Hard work here was to the point of very nuanced hard work, whether it was on the character, locations, on the script level, on every level of making the show.
How excited were you when Brown got selected for the Berlinale Series Market Select?
The honour is that Brown is the only Indian show in Series Market Select at Berlin. It feels very humbling and exciting at the same time. The real victory is that all the hard work that we put into the show is getting noticed. And not just here in India, but on an international platform. It’s also encouraging to know that our show has brought an all-new perspective to Indian content on a global stage. The kind of themes and topics that the show highlights are different. And the story tells you its fine to deal with all that stuff.
What makes Brown so different?
It is not just a regular crime drama. It is also a human drama. It’s a show about human emotions. It’s about certain topics that we don’t bring to light or put forth too often. I think it’s an inspirational story. I would call Rita Brown an inspiration to women around the world. You can be beat up, you can go through certain things, but there is always a way out.
How did you react to the fact that you were offered an Anglo-Indian character? That must certainly have been all-new experience for you?
Yeah, that was very interesting. We did a lot of work to get that side of the character right. I saw a lot of footage, I had to read about it. We had a lot of workshops with Helen aunty and Soni (Razdan) aunty. It was a lot of fun playing an anglo-Indian character.
Was the show designed in a way that it would appeal to not just an Indian audience but to international viewers as well?
I don’t know. I never thought about that, actually. I never looked at it that way. I don’t think it was intentional. I think maybe Abhinay just tweaked the tone of his show in such a way that it has reached an international audience. The idea was always to make something different, a bit out of the ordinary. I don’t think we set out to make something that must reach an international audience. It was set out to just be something out of the ordinary.
Your character of Rita looks like she’s become jaded. And then she’s put in a corner and she has to push through. How did you relate to this and did you recall a similar situation in your real life, where you were put in a corner and you had to fight back?
That was the most interesting part for me. You don’t really see these things with your average Indian female protagonist. Sometimes our characters are made to be superhuman. On the contrary, with Rita we get to see someone who is so beat up and so down and out. I just feel that going through a life journey, you see people, you see things happen in your life and other people’s lives. And these are real human emotions that you experience. I think that’s what touched me about Rita Brown, that she was so real and raw. Her thought process and her body language is not that of a typical heroine or a typical Indian character. She has not been portrayed as a typical woman. She is totally different.