Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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    Aahana Kumra, Shaad Ali discuss Call My Agent: Bollywood and the ‘satire world of showbiz’

    Call My Agent: Bollywood Poster (Photo Credits: Twitter/@NetflixIndia)

    Call My Agent: Bollywood Poster (Photo Credits: Twitter/@NetflixIndia)

    Call My Agent: Bollywood, an Indian spin-off features Aahana Kumra, Aayush Mehra, Soni Razdan and Rajat Kapoor as lead characters with a whole host of cameos like Farah Khan, Ali Fazal, Richa Chadha, Lara Dutta, Jackie Shroff . , and Dia Mirza among others.

    Director Shaad Ali (of Saathiya fame) says the show is fun, quirky, heartwarming and an emotional take on the world of Bollywood celebrities. The series follows the world of four extremely strong casting agents and managers who scramble to keep their star clients happy as they navigate through their personal lives. Writer brothers Hussain and Abbas Dalal have adapted the Hindi script to make it relevant and funny in Bollywood scenarios, without compromising on the essence of the original.

    “Call My Agent is about the story of talent and agents in the Hindi film industry. It is about their interpersonal relationship. There are ups and downs and high and low situations. There is drama and some realistic stories too but there is a lot more comedy and It’s a good fun journey. It’s fresh, fun, light and there’s a lot happening in each episode. I can’t wait to show the audience the satirical world of showbiz through my lens. Rajat, Aayush, Aahana And Soni shares such a great chemistry with each other that shooting with them was a riot,” says Ali. “This project has been close to my heart from the very beginning. It was a huge responsibility to keep the original script in mind which has been so successful and yet I have my own stamp on the adaptation. Every component of the show has been considered. The depth With – from casting to cameo,” adds the director.

    Initially, when she was offered the show, Aahana Kumra says that she was not very excited, but when she saw the original film she made sure to be a part of the Indian spin-off. “I was amazed that all the problems shown in this French show were our problems in Bollywood too (laughs). It may be funny but every episode talks about the important issues we are familiar with… stigma, Insecurities, competing for the same job, fighting for more screen time, boyfriend feuds, I’m a mother so I can’t take on these roles… I wondered how the French people learned about our issues here ( Heartfelt laughs.) They made it in France, so they have the same problems there?? I was shocked. Then I realized that film industries around the world have these problems. I decided I wanted to play Andrea Want to play. The makers were also very keen to get me on board. I got Bhaag and then I came to know that Shaad was directing it and it interested me more. He is a non-interfering director, He expects you to know your job and there is a reason you got hired.The cast is great too. I did this show Have thoroughly enjoyed shooting as I have loved the show myself. Given that this is also an untapped genre, I am excited to see the audience’s response. We are bringing to the screen what is happening behind the scenes.”

    The actress says that her character is quite close to Andrea in the original, however, she did borrow some nuances from people she knows personally. “My character Amal Ahmed is very similar to Andrea. He kept my character bisexual (he is gay in the first season). But I had to borrow from the aggressive casting agents I met in real life. I enjoyed playing Amal, I Felt empowered – she makes sure she gets what she wants. They cut my hair short and gave me oversized jackets, straight-fit pants so I looked fabulous. We had to Indianize a little and make it real. But as far as the events and situations in the series are concerned that these things happen. It’s not that we haven’t met the people shown. There are all kinds of people in the industry and we’ve met all of them,” says Kumra.

    About showbiz tropes, the show will see more than half a dozen Bollywood celebrities as guest stars. Says Ali, “The casting for the cameo was interesting as these actors have to play themselves as well as play the character that was written for them and that was a difficult situation.”

    “The story line is the same as in French shows but when you get Jackie Shroff you have to design the scenes accordingly. If you are getting Tigmanshu Dhulia, or Lillete Dubey in a scene then you have to do the scenes according to their personality. I have had many scenes with Rajat Kapoor as well and enjoyed working with such experienced actors. Our outfit was absolutely fabulous. Soni (Razdan) and I go back a long way, Hussain (Dalal), who worked with Abbas Write the dialogues, we both did theatre together,” says Kumra.

    Asked if it was liberating for a streaming platform to direct such a show, Ali said, “The only advantage and salvation about OTT platforms is that you get more time to spend with your characters and you get to spend more time with them. Brings them out a little more than that. For films. But your effort and effort is still to tell the best story in the best possible way.”

    And when Kumra is asked if she has come to know of the ‘outrageous’ demands of the actors, she says, “Look, I haven’t met any atrangi type of actor, so I don’t know what their demands are. I have never been on a set like this. I know actors are conscious about their food, so some take their cooks with them on shoots. Then, some actors take their fitness and gym instructors on the sets. But I’ve only heard these stories, I’ve never worked with such actors, so I’m sure their agents and producers might have to arrange these for them,” she laughs.

    Signing off, she says, “But if I had to make such a demand, the producers would have kicked me out of their films or shows. I am one of those actors who can be easily replaced. It is true. But I love my job. I haven’t reached the point where I can take my chef or gym instructor along. Hope that day comes soon (laughs).”

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