As ALTBalaji’s latest Original, Dil Hi Toh Hai Season 2, gets set to stream soon, the excited team –Karan Kundra, Rajeswari Sachdeva, Yogita Bihani, Bijay Anand, Paras Kalnavat, Abhinav Kapoor and Asmita Sood – talk to Ananya Swaroop about coming back as a web series and about the making of this show
What was the vibe on the set when such a large cast is working together? How was your experience?
Karan Kundra (KK): The vibe was exactly as it is now… us joking around and discussing things. That’s how it was throughout the shooting of the show. When we all got to know that Season 1 was going to end, we all were very sad. When we got to know we would be shooting for Season 2, everybody was very excited and happy. This was a limited offer, so everyone just came in wholeheartedly.
Paras Kalnavat (PK): They got to know that I was part of this show, so they were even more excited!
KK: No, that was the only drawback. The sad part is that he was cast in the show!
Asmita Sood (AS): But it was a great experience. Everyone was genuinely very happy that we were coming up with Season 2 because we ended Season 1 on an abrupt note. I think we needed to conclude the story and also show the audience that there is always so much more love to give with our show. So, yes, it was great.
PK: When you get to see this family on the show, this is what we are like in reel life as well as in real life. We created a very strong bond while shooting and have grown very close to one another. Karan (Kundra) is playing the role of my big brother, then there is Rajeswari Sachdeva as my mother and Bijay Anand as my father. It has become like that in real life as well.
Speaking of individual characters, can each one of you describe your respective roles?
KK: My character Ritvik is a very real character. He is not that typical goody-two-shoes kind of person that you generally see on television. He has a flamboyant side, he loves women and he is okay about loving them. He has been brought up really well and his heart is in the right place. I think he also has a few issues with women as well; I think he is a bit of a misogynist. In Season 1 he was a completely different character and in Season 2 he is a heartbroken man. There are some glimpses of the old character but he is quite silent in this season. The character is very intense.
PK: Shivam is the most energetic person. You could also say he is kind of immature as well, but sensible. He is the most pampered person in the family. All the brothers, the parents and everyone in the family love him. My character loves his family and is quite attached to them so there is also an emotional side to my character. Also, he is very lively and never takes things seriously.
Yogita Bihani (YB): Okay, Season 2 belongs to Palak! I think she is much stronger than she was in Season 1. She is more independent and she has to raise two kids all by herself. She is now living for her kids as she had to face a major loss by losing Ritvik. My character is centered on the kids but with a strong heart.
Rajeswari Sachdeva (RS): When Season 1 left off, I had begged Palak to leave my son alone and it would be a win-win situation. Now that six years have passed, she realises that she had made a very bad decision and now she wants them back. That is where the story begins and now my character wants to put these two back together.
There is a whole roller-coaster journey of how they get back. The scenes are very well written, fun and dramatic. The Noon family has drama in their DNA and they are as stubborn as they were in the previous season.
Bijay Anand (BA): In the first season I played a fun-loving and doting father. In Season 2, he is an angry, rude man. He is always angry, always shouting. For me, the best part about Season 2, as an actor, are the amazing scenes I have with Palak (Yogita Bihani). The very tender moments were amazing to shoot and we are looking forward to seeing it. As an actor, if you wait to see something, then it has to be good. Also, the way the story has been woven by the writer and makers is fantastic.
AS: Setu is Palak’s (Yogita) best friend in Season 1 and Season 2 as well. She has three brats already in these six years and also a husband. She is that protective friend of Palak in the entire show. She has gone through thick and thin with her. Whatever problems she comes across, Setu is there just like a good friend. She is also a journalist by profession in the show and that has been highlighted in bits and pieces.
Besides that, it will be fun to watch how, along with everybody else, she too helps Ritvik and Palak unite. She and Shivam (Paras) come together to do whatever they can to reunite these two. There are some really interesting scenes where we are planning how to go about it. I think I enjoyed shooting for Season 2 more than I did shooting for Season 1!
Abhinav Kapoor (AK): I am playing this character called Aman. In the show, Aman is a problem solver. He has always been this ideal person, ideal best friend, ideal brother, ideal son; you know, the person you always go to whenever you are in trouble and need some direction. He has an answer to everything, So, in Season 2, my character is about how someone who has always been right gets into trouble and how he deals with it. It is about how he gets out of it and especially how Palak helps him emerge from his dilemma. Also, he is associated with Shivam and Setu, and their team helps them unite Ritvik and Palak. In the end, that is what our basic journeys are all about.
What was it about the script that made you get on board?
AK: For me, the strongest reason was to unite with all of them. This is what made me want to come back stronger and better.
AS: Definitely the team, and also the story. When they told us how the story would unfold in Season 2, I was definitely on board.
BA: We had to do it, we had to be part of this show to be with each other.
RS: I think none of us was worried about what would happen for us after Season 1 ended. We were just so kicked about being back on the set and working together.
AK: I think we did not even bother to ask how our characters were shaping up in Season 2, we just wanted to be part of it.
YB: The people, the story, everything about this show was interesting. If you were to tell us that there was a Season 3, we would all dance with joy!
PK: I really liked my character. I got to know that my character was lively and I had to use all my energy in the show. That’s what attracted me. Secondly, I was getting a chance to associate with Balaji and work with such a stellar cast. How could I refuse this script?!
KK: They pay me really well (Laughs). No, because Season 2 is a web-only show, there was a transition from a television show to being a web show. We get to prove a point here. When you put up a show on television, not everybody necessarily wants to see it. Sometimes, they watch it because there isn’t anything else worth watching at that time. On the other hand, the web is just like films. Just like you have to buy a ticket for a movie, if you want to watch my show on the web, you will download the app, pay the subscription fee and watch it. Only then will we get the numbers. For an actor, that is the most crucial thing because that gives you some standing.
I think, on television, people become popular, they never become stars. You are just a recognisable face if you are on television. On the other hand, you are a star if your film’s tickets sell. So this gap between film and television is being bridged by the web, where if you are making a good show and you are a star, then people will subscribe and watch your show. This gives you value.
You have all worked for TV shows, films and now the web. How liberating and different is it working with an OTT platform.
PK: The audience is very different. In the case of a television show, it’s generally our mothers who are watching. But when we talk about the web audience, it expands to a whole new level. Web shows attract young people. They download the app and watch a show like this, which is more realistic than a TV script. In TV shows, there are a couple of things we cannot show because of censorship, there is no freedom. There is a lot of freedom in the web space.
KK: Also, the web has become very genre-specific! When you make a TV show, there are one or two things you have to keep in mind. You are airing the show on a satellite channel, which will air in Amritsar, in Nepal, Tamil Nadu and also in Mumbai. Everyone watches the show at the same time. At the end of the day, we have to get the TRPs, so we are serving a large audience and a very diverse audience, and there is a lot of pressure. It is very tricky because you have to make a show that someone in Amritsar will enjoy as much as someone in Mumbai.
On the web, you are not looking for a generic show. Also, people come to your show; they are not watching it because they have no other option. If we say that our show is a young comedy love story, we can stick to that and not add drama just because we are not rating well. With TV shows, you sometimes add elements so that it works for a larger audience but that doesn’t happen with web shows.
You don’t have telecasting pressure, you have time. You can prepare for something, you can put in the required effort because there is no pressure. It’s not like we have to telecast a specific episode tomorrow.
Season 1 was a TV format show. How did you draw the line between it being a typical daily soap turned into a web show?
KK: Season 1 aired on television and there was a lot of drama involved. We have skipped that drama in this season. It is made for the web and we are not adding anything to it. It was a daily soap and we have shot it like a daily soap. I’m not saying we have made it into a 13-episode story; there are 30-odd episodes a month, the format of shooting is still that of a daily soap but with the content, we have tried to make it as realistic as it can be. We have created a pure web show, it is a daily show for the web. And I think we are the first ones to do that.
Lastly, what would you want the audience to take away from the show?
KK: Entertainment, just pure entertainment. I am not saying we have created a brand new love story, it is still a classic old love story. Love stories have always been the same. It is a light show, there is no heavy drama. There are many funny situations as well. There are also some serious moments. If people are expecting it to be anything like Season 1, then they are in for a really big surprise. It is a completely different show.
RS: It’s a love story and everybody loves to see a love story.