As MX Original and Applause Entertainment Series, Hello Mini, a horror-thriller, is now streaming, actors Anuja Joshi and Gaurav Chopra talk to Manisha Karki about the adaptation of the series from the book and their respective roles
Hello Mini is based on the Stranger Trilogy books. Did both of you read it before beginning the shoot of the series?
Anuja Joshi (AJ): I have read all the three books. Even though season one is based on the first book, Marry Me, Stranger, it was important for me to understand Rivanah’s (Bannerjee) journey all the way through the three series because it would have been difficult for me to have partial information so I read all the three books while doing this series. I read it in three days.
Gaurav Chopra (GC): Good job! I only read the first one. My character is not there in the book. This is the surprise in the show. This is Goldie Behl’s idea. It’s a suspense drama, a mystery and for everyone who has read the book, there is nothing to look forward in the show. You would know everything. You would know what happens to the characters and so they wanted to add this tadka in the show and that’s what I am trying to do.
Anuja, Hello Mini is a horror thriller. In a genre like this more than the dialogue, you have to convince the audience with your body language, with your expressions. Was it taxing?
AJ: I don’t think sitting in an office with scripts is going to get you the body language that is necessary for such a series. One of the biggest lessons I learnt from this shoot is that it is very exhausting to be terrified all the time. As actors we use everything be it our words, body or expressions but fear, terror, horror, all these things can be pretty exhausting to enact. It was a game of stamina for me especially because I was shooting quite frequently but my director Faruk Kabir was pretty amazing. He made sure that I was taking breaks, conserving energy, so when we had the take I can go all out.
Gaurav, we can clearly see the kind of character Anuja is playing but there is not much shown about your character in the trailer. Can you shed some light on it?
GC: My preparation for the character was different. This was a character who was not there in the book and then we had to still make sure that every time he came on screen, he was creating an impact. It seemed like it was a bit of a responsibility to make sure that every time there was a scene, there was something special because that’s the purpose of the character that has been added. But at the same time we also had the liberty to interpret it the way we wanted to since there is no reference of the character in the book. I sort of actually thought about the approach and the internalisation of it. Her (Anuja) process was way more physical than mine because of all the strong reactions she had to give to what all was happening with her. However, my process was a lot more internal and so I thought it needed to be about power as an industrialist. He needed to look like a self-made, very successful person. He is very direct. He knows what he wants. He is very honest.
Anuja, this is your first web series. Prior to this you have done a couple of short films. What was it about the story that made you say yes?
AJ: The fact that it was based on a book. I think that is such an exciting thing for an actor to take on. I am such a big fan of adaptations in films and television any way be it Harry Potter or Game Of Thrones; it is so incredible to see something actually come to life from the pages. It was obviously an honour that the makers took a chance on me and they saw the ability in me to potentially creating this character well. I just jumped at the opportunity.
Gaurav, you have been on all the platforms whether it is films, television or web. According to you, how important is the web space for an actor in terms of exploring content as well as getting new opportunities?
GC: I think we all became actors because we want to explore new things. We wanted to be other than the people that we were and live multiple lives. There comes a stage in an actor’s life when if you are considered successful, then the same roles keep coming back to you. That’s because the industry sees you as somebody who will deliver with these roles. If you were to keep saying yes to that, because you also feel comfortable in that zone and you know that if I do this, the audience is going to like it, all of that sounds so good. But you need to get out of that comfort zone or else you will become limited. Thankfully, the digital platform has offered me roles that are dramatically different. Last couple of years has been just that, trying to be different. The digital space in India specifically has brought in so many new avenues for so many people, such great opportunities and I think it’s the best time for the audience.