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Abhishek Banerjee: Improvisations are very important especially in a comical situation

As Dream Girl has released this week, actor Abhishek Banerjee talks to Bhavi Gathani about his experience on the film sets, his journey as an actor from casting director and his expectations with the film

The trailer of Dream Girl is so hilarious. You must have had a blast on the set.

When the director called me for the narration of the film for the first time, five to seven minutes into the narration I was like, this is just hilarious. Not only because this film’s story is such but also because Raaj (Shaandilyaa) sir himself was so hilarious. He constantly gives his own punches. I was sure that this is going to be a project with great energy. When I heard that Ayushmann Khurrana is playing the female in the film, he is Pooja, I was so confused that how is this going to happen? Obviously, that man surprises us every time but at that time I was a little unsure because he is very Punjabi macho guy and not feminine at all. On the sets I had that feeling of being the audience, where I am watching them perform, enjoying it as well as acting in the film. So I was completely having fun watching and working on the film.

You have worked with two National Award winners, Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana. How according to you, is their approach similar or different towards their character?

They both have different methods. Ayushmann sir is more spontaneous. He keeps the idea of the character in his head and he thinks of lines and movements while doing it. Raj has definitely done his homework and you can see that. He is also spontaneous to a level but he has this different way of approaching his scene. Both of them approach their scenes in a very different manner. Best part about both these actors is their collaborative effort where you are involving everybody and doing the scene. It is not difficult for Ayushmann Khurrana to wear the saree or do the makeup and still come on set, smile every time between retakes and cuts and constantly do that. Raj, on the other hand will be working hard on the scene and even after the scene is over his focus is completely on his work. Their methods work for them.

In a comedy film how much do you think improvisation is necessary? How do you make the character your own?

Improvisations are very important especially in a comical situation because no matter however much you read the script, however much you rehearse the lines the timings everything, the minute we both are not in this room and we are at a coffee shop doing the scene, the same scene, the dynamics change, everything changes. You have to see what is around and then you turn the scene to that space and that is the beauty of comedy when it is situational and space based.

Being a casting director who works behind the camera too, does it help you as an actor?

I was not a complete actor when I came to Mumbai. Even though I did theatre in Delhi, after I came here, I kept getting rejected and one very senior casting director, Gautam Kishanchandani, who is also my mentor, used to tell me that there are some things wrong with my performance. When I started taking auditions, when I auditioned actors like Jaideep Ahlawat, I learnt a lot. These actors come and perform in front of you and you see the ease in their performance. It is very difficult to get that ease because you are always nervous and you are always thinking that somebody is judging you. When I saw these performances it helped me turn on a switch in my head. Everybody has to go through an audition process until and unless you are blessed and privileged to get a big role. For Stree, I had to go through an audition. I cracked that audition because of all the memories, the nuances which I have kept seeing the actors and the tricks that you understand that this is what you need to get to, to communicate the scene in an audition room.

How do you think the digital space has helped the actors since you have also been a part of one of the most popular Indian series, Mirzapur?

In the beginning when I started casting for the web space, I used to think that it is a bigger space for the content, for directors and producers. Later I realised that it’s a bigger space for the actors. Not only in terms of finances, not only because now they can survive in Bombay but also because they can experiment with their characters. There is so much to do for them and you never know which eyes are looking at you. You have to just constantly do it. We used to keep saying that we don’t have this and that to explore but everything is there on the web platform.

You were a part of Stree which became a trendsetter. Again Dream Girl is a completely different film. What are your expectations from it?

I am seriously expecting a lot of love and I strongly feel that people are going to give that to the film. I like the fact that this film brings smile on the face. Whenever they are talking about Dream Girl, they just smile and say this looks really good. The thing is that there are a lot of expectations attached to this film and I really hope that we match up to everyone’s expectations. This is a comedy film and you just come and have fun with the film. That is what everybody has been working towards.

What’s next for you?

Next for me is Made In China and then Bala. There is another film, in comedy genre, by Umesh Shukla, who had also directed Oh My God! and 102 Not Out.

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