Since her film debut in the critically-acclaimed and National Award winning Marathi film, ‘Shwaas’, actor Amruta Subhash has charted her filmography with profound choices in both the Marathi and Hindi film industry. In recent memory, cinegoers have taken up to her outstanding performances in ‘Balak Palak’, ‘Killa’, ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’, ‘Gully Boy’, ‘Sacred Games Season 2’ and ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’.
As she discusses her nomination in the Best Supporting Actor Film (Female) category for the Netflix film with Radio City, the actress discusses the process behind getting the highlight ‘laughter’ scene which netizens have lauded her for, the craft behind expressing an emotion in its authenticity and her evolving equation with filmmaker and friend Anurag Kashyap.
Please take us through how did you manage to portray that outstanding scene in ‘Choked’, where your character Sharvari Tai breaks into this hysterical laugh on hearing the news of demonetisation.
Amruta: Funnily, before we shot this scene, I was having a conversation with my friend Shubhra who was present on-set. I told her that I am unstoppable when I begin laughing after a tense situation. When you laugh like that, other people around you start wondering if everything is okay or not. So, I was telling her that sometimes, I do break into such exaggerated laughs. And Kashyap was around, so somehow it fell into his ears. That’s when he suggested that we incorporate this into the scene. I obviously was taken aback. I said that I was talking about a habit. I do understand that for someone who is arranging to get her daughter married at the time of demonetisation, the instant reaction would be of shock or disbelief. But he (Kashyap) insisted that I laugh. I eventually gave in and when we did the shot, everyone were controlling their laughs on the sets. During the first take, Kashyap was happy that the shot went well. We did two more retakes and on the third take, I let myself loose. Finally, when I did see the shot, I realised why he was very convinced. We are always told to offer something which differs from what’s conventional. My guru Vijaya Mehta would tell me, ‘Don’t be predictable when you act’. Also, because the film is a black comedy is why a scene of this nature could fit in. Even then, Sharvari Tai is an unpredictable character. You can never tell the difference between what she says and what she thinks. Which is why, a scene like this further establishes that.
How crucial can the process be behind getting an emotion right without it appearing gimmicky or force-fit?
Amruta: Emotion has always been instrumental for me in what am I trying to convey. It also depends upon understanding the situation of the character. We were taught this by Naseer Sir (Naseeruddin Shah) at the National School of Drama. When you understand the situation of the character, will then you be able to portray his/her emotions, more effortlessly. In the case of ‘Choked’, I did look up videos of how everyone reacted back then when demonetisation happened. Common people faced a lot of troubles, people working in banks went through a lot of stress. For me, it was to understand what would be the immediate instinct of a person if misfortune fell upon them. So while shooting for the laughing scene, I decided to go with the flow and let my reaction be intuitive.
‘Choked’ is your third project with filmmaker Anurag Kashyap after ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ and ‘Sacred Games Season 2’. How do you view your working relationship over three diverse scripts?
Amruta: The equation is completely different with each project. We met for ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ and the scenes were shot with only one rehearsal. The character in ‘Sacred Games Season 2’ was completely different. Also, because we had an established equation while working on the former project, we required no rehearsals while shooting for the show. But for ‘Choked’, Anurag told me that he will not give me the script. I said okay. But, I wasn’t afraid of the fact that he did not give me the script. So, I wouldn’t know what Sharvari Tai was doing everyday. I would be explained the gist of what was to be shot. Everything would be improvised from then on. So while I would be giving my takes, he would sit behind the camera and laugh without calling for a cut. There was complete trust which is why I wouldn’t stress. Otherwise, I stress out a lot when I don’t have the script on me. Like I said, Sharvari Tai is an unpredictable character and that’s why Anurag made a conscious effort to ensure that my reactions are natural. He calls me his Lady Nawaz (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). I even spoke about it to Nawaz as well. (laughs) I’m sure you would agree with me on this that with each project, neither of us have repeated ourselves. We are surprising each other. And I hope it remains that way everytime we work together.
Amruta Subhash has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor Film (Female) category at the Radio City and Mid Day presents Hitlist OTT Awards 2020. To cast your vote, log onto, www.hitlistottawards.com. Voting ends on Feb 9, 2021.