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Expected The Unexpected

There are times when the smallest of roles in a movie leave an indelible mark on the audience. The actor we spoke to this week achieved exactly that in the strong supportive character she played in the film 3 Storeys. Renuka Shahane chats with Suranjana Biswas about her distinctive roles in the film

On The Brief

She is basically a Goan-Christian lady who has been living in a chawl. She is very lovable and everyone confides in her. She is one of those aunties who everybody likes. She knows everything about everybody and has an obsessive love for her child.

This was the basic brief I was given. Other than that, I was told that there was also going to be an age transition - from her late 20s to 55-years-old. They told me I would have to don grey hair!

On The Role

I had to do a lot of preparation as my character is of a different culture and religion than mine. I know a lot of Christians; I had Christian neighbours but they were East Indians, so they had a very different way of talking. They used words in a way that is very different from the way Goan-Christians do. I had to adapt Hindi to that Goan-Christian dialect.

We had workshops with Atul Mongia who is just terrific. Before I came to the workshop, he had given me a clip of a lady who lives in Juhu. The video has an old lady doing her household chores. She had certain mannerisms which I used. They unfortunately don’t speak Hindi. I had to kind of convert the English into Hindi. I was helped by the dialogue writers.

The way the character was written required a certain body language that I had to bring to my character. But the workshops helped because I was asked to do things I wasn’t doing in the film. I was put in various situations with my co-actors, so that I was comfortable in my character’s skin. And the cherry on the cake was the make-up and the clothes.

On The Challenges

The challenge was to make my character look natural because people are familiar with me and have a certain image of me in their minds. To break that image and make them believe that I was the character, was the challenge.

I also feel that’s how we were all performing on the sets. We were not going over the top with the characters; it was very realistic. That’s how the director wanted us to be. All of us were very satisfied with the way things were moving.

On The Director

Our association was fantastic because we hit it off very well with him as a person. He has a great sense of humour. He is also very cool on the set, which is a great thing. It is his debut film, and if he was nervous, he never showed it. That was a huge advantage. Also, the fact that he has done so many ad films means he is familiar with the technique of filmmaking. He was very clear about the tone he wanted to set. It was smooth sailing for all of us. Not once did I feel that I couldn’t communicate with him or that he wasn’t able to tell me what he expected. I was very happy to work with him.

On her Co-stars

Pulkit (Samrat) is such a fine actor. At first, I was sceptical about Pulkit because he is a star of today. He had to get rid of all his trappings of stardom in the film. He was so gung-ho about his workshop, he was made to do all sorts of things and he just did them. He was very open-minded and I could see his hunger, and that he wanted to learn.

My scenes were with him, so it was great interacting with him. It was nice working with Masumeh. We already knew each other since she too has worked in television. She is such a sweet girl. Richa (Chadha) and I get along like a house on fire; I love her and all my co-stars very much. I had a wonderful experience working with them.

On The Response

It is overwhelming; I think everybody was shocked to see that I could play a character like this. They loved the story and the film, and I think the gap of 14 years from Hindi cinema has worked in my favour. Instead of doing something that is expected, I was thrown into something completely different. It also tells the audience that this is something that the actor can play.

On Future Projects

I have not really taken up anything. I am doing a show called Cinema Ka Safar for a DTH Company with Shemaroo. I will also be seen in Bucket List, which is Madhuri’s (Dixit) first Marathi film.

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