The recent short film, 'Chutney,' written by Tisca Chopra, Jyoti and Avneesh Gupta, is easily amongst the best shorts to come out of Bollywood shores, especially in the wake of the immense success of Neeraj Pandey's Manoj Bajpayee-Pooja Chopra starrer 'Ouch'. The film, which works on its terrific content, is ably augmented by its powerhouse performers, Tisca, Adil Hussain and Rasika Dugal. Post the release and success of the film, the aduience have begun noticing her. We caught up with Rasika on a quick chat.
How did Chutney happen to you?
Tisca and I have been friends for a while. We have worked on two films before. ‘Qissa’ and ‘10 ml Love.’ I had recently moved to Mumbai. I was a student at the Film Institute before that. I had a very small part in the film and much of my role was with Tisca. And I had just come out of the institute and was very particular about the way I did my work, now I’m particular in a different way. I played a mehendi wali in the film. It was a 2 day shoot and I learnt how to put mehendi 10 days before that, because I thought it was my job as an actor to do that. I thought Tisca was very interesting and ever since she sort of watched out for me, she recommended me for places, she advised me for everything, starting from fashion to how to negotiate money. She is somebody I turned to for advice and that is something you can do with very few people in Bombay, whom you can really trust.
Tell us something about your role?
Till date nobody gave me a sexy and bouncy character to play. And I always miss that a lot. I always feel that I will look good in it. In fact, in my final year at FTII, we were all ready for our final films, and we were casting roles that we thought we would never get cast in. So I was made to do an item number because they said that “isko toh koi item number kabhi nahi dega”; it was very funny. They made me wear a white saree, called a fire brigade and put pani, and the sound department composed a song. All the men in my class wore a leopard skin. I also always feel that such a character of a Delhi girl and has a little raunchiness to her gets caricaturish. And I was very scared that I would end up doing that because you tend to get affected by what you watch. But I think it became pretty easy as Adil Hussain was there and I genuinely lust after Adil. From the time I was studying in Delhi everybody had a crush on him. And since Adil was there I never had work on any character. It just happened, so it came from within, all the raunchiness.
Do you feel that Indian audiences are ready for such short films?
I don’t think there is a difference when you approach for a feature film in terms of process for an actor or approaching for a television project or a web series or a short film. It’s the same process. I feel short films are exciting for actors, because they are not bound by the producers’ need for a cast to start. They are also exploring the dead spaces. It’s a space that is fairly needed; there is a new opening in which you can sort of establish yourself as someone known, now that is exciting. Like my friend Sumit Vyas is now a big internet celebrity. So is Naveen Kasturia. These are people who have done theatre, and are great actors who haven’t got their dues in films, but this space is now getting them more films. So I’m glad that there is a new opening so that there can be new entries rather than just the stars who are already existing. Many of my friends who are also talented actors very often reach a stage when the director or producer says, ‘not a known face’. So I’m glad that there is this opening where we can try and make ourselves known in this field.
Do you think it is important for an actor to create his or her niche audience?
It is a very competitive industry but I’m not one of those actors who strategise in that fashion and I guess that’s my drawback. Because I’m more focused on what I do with my own craft. I feel that what a film achieves in terms of publicity or how well it gets released is something that is really not in my control. And I will never choose a project on the basis of that. I hope that the project I choose does well, of course, because I want as many people to watch it. I want credit for my work and I want people to see what I have done and I want that to translate to more work for me.