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A Triumphant Take 2

The lead cast of ALTBalaji’s Kehne Ko Humsafar HainRonit Roy, Mona Singh and Gurdeep Kohli – in conversation with Ananya Swaroop about the second season of their web series

When you came back for Season 2, did you have to do any sort of prep for your characters? What was it like getting back into this?

Mona Singh (MS): Prep for me is a workshop, meeting again, getting to know what happens to our characters. What is Ekta’s (Kapoor) vision? We have a narration. If we have a problem with a few things in the character, we offer our input and it is graciously welcomed. As we have lived the character more than the writer, we do give our inputs; that is the prep for me.

Ronit Roy (RR): One part of prep is being appraised of the situation so you know exactly what is going to happen. Just like with a film script, where you have Page 1 to Page 100 bound. You know exactly who is playing what, where it is being shot. The director has told you what he wants from you. You have figured out how the character talks and walks. So before shooting you have figured everything out. It is like when you travel to a new place, but you have figured out the entire itinerary in advance.

The other type of prep is ‘khud hi ko kar buland itna’, where you know based on past history what is going to happen. You have an indication, but you are pretty much prepared for anything that may or may not happen. When you are doing that kind of prep there is always a Plan C, because Plan A and Plan B may fail. And that comes from experience. For this show, it was Plan C coming into action because every day was a challenge. Mona’s role is much different from what it was in Season 1, so is Gurdeep’s. My role is completely the opposite. So there is a lot of on-the-go prep happening. We are shooting in a foreign country; in Doha, Qatar. So you are prepared for any contingency.

Gurdeep Kohli (GK): Preparation is like what they both said. As Mona said, offering your input on the script, as we have been with the character, and getting feedback on that. You have to be ready for the scene. You get the bound script, you read it and understand the character, what the growth of the character has been. You just go and give it your best shot.

All three of you have done daily soaps as well as web series. How would you compare the two? Do you have a preference?

GK: The preparation that you asked about in the first question is the difference between the two. For a web series, it is much more detailed than for a daily soap. In the latter we wait for TRP figures and change tracks accordingly. In a web series, the writing is done right from the beginning. The characters are well-etched out and then you go on floors.

MS: A daily soap for me per se is very tiring because I cannot go to the same set with the same people every day for years. I don’t enjoy being in a comfort zone for too long. I like to challenge myself. And that is what web series do for me.

You get to play different characters as you can do two or three shows in a year. Every show takes three to four months and after that you can do something else. That for me is the real difference. And like Gurdeep said about the prep, you don’t get that kind of time in a daily soap as the script keeps changing. You get the script just before rolling and you have to memorise the lines. Most of the time, it is about quantity rather than quality. But in a web series it is only about quality as there are a certain number of episodes.

RR: I don’t have the intelligence to really answer this question. I am an actor; I go out there and I do my job. For me, whether I am shooting for a television serial or a web series or a movie, I am an actor at work and I do my job. But like Mona said, and I would agree, doing television is high pressure. Not that a web series has no pressure, but television has higher pressure because of the telecast delivery schedules. If you know how to handle it, and I have been doing that for 14 years, it doesn’t affect you. When you get into a role, you are in the role. It then boils down to an actor doing their job.

Gurdeep, you also have a new relationship developing in the series. What was that like?

GK: I was the most uncomfortable one, let me tell you. (Laughs) It took me back to my Sanjivani time. I revisited those romantic scenes, trying to kiss and all that was really beautiful. It’s a great track. When I was in the Season 1, I joked with the makers to please get me a guy and that was actually happening. I was really happy about that and I enjoyed that track.

Coming to censorship, there is this concept arising of self-censorship. An OTT platform recently censored some of their own shows. What are your thoughts on this?

GK: It’s fair because people are using this liberty very carelessly.  

RR: It’s not in my capacity to talk about censorship, but whatever works for people, and however it works. A lot of people feel that there shouldn’t be censorship, a lot of proprietors feel that there should be censorship. We are pretty much a country that is ready to digest all kinds of things.

MS: There should be parental guidance, which should be very strict in homes so that kids don’t watch things meant for adults, and that is censorship to me.

RR: Yes, that is where the responsibility starts. It starts at home.

Mona, you play the ‘other woman’ on the show. How did you keep her real and prevent her from becoming a negative stereotype?

MS: That was my fear. I asked Ekta if she actually wanted me to play the other woman because I had never done that. I was wondering why she called me to play that part when I should be the wife. But we actors don’t have real vision because we have not written the show. We just have this thought that we want to play a certain character. She then called me to her office and explained. She said that I am a normal, ordinary and independent girl on the show, who happens to fall in love with a married man and that is what the show is all about. It is about finding myself amidst everyone’s journey.

I thought that was fair enough. TV is either black or white. You are either a vamp or a protagonist. But that is not the case with the web space. It is very new for me. I loved the complete character sketch of Ananya. I love the fact that after the show, a lot of people were writing to me saying that they identify with my character as they are going through something like that too. I am very happy that people have graciously accepted the character and given Ananya love. 

Ronit, you are usually known for playing the tough guy. In this show, we are getting to see you in a very different avatar.

RR: I will tell you why I consider myself rich. I am rich because there is a large cross-section of the audience that loves me. And they love me unconditionally, irrespective of the role I do. I am selfish and greedy and hence I want that wealth of love to help me grow. I would not say that I like playing one character over some other because I want to play everything.

The point is to understand who I am acting for and who is going to watch me. My endeavour is always to do things which people would like to see me in. If that motive is achieved, then I become very happy. On a personal level, like any other actor, I would want to experiment with roles and I would want to do something different from what I have done.

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