Rasika Dugal, who forayed into Bollywood in 2007 with a small character role in Anwar, followed by Tahaan, has come a long way, thanks to her exceptional acting skills.
She made the audience sit up and take notice in 2018 with her performance in web shows Mirzapur and Delhi Crime and in films such as Hamid and Manto.
And now the Out of Love actress is making headlines with her role in Lootcase which was released on July 31 on Disney+ Hotstar.
Rasika is also riding high with the positive reviews she has received for Mira Nair’s television adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel ‘A Suitable Boy’, which was released on BBC One on July 26.
In an exclusive interview, she talks about her craft, her tryst with comedy, and off-beat characters. Excerpts from the chat…
After several offbeat roles, Lootcase is your first commercial film. How was the experience?
It was exciting. Comedy is a different genre for me. I was excited to be a part of this film as I wanted to experiment with comedy for a long time. I try doing different things. When I got the script for Lootcase, I was shooting for Delhi Crime, which was very intense, so I wanted to do something light-hearted. I enjoyed doing this film thoroughly.
You play a domineering housewife who is also a god-fearing woman. Do you resonate with this character in your personal life?
Well, I was brought up in a family which follows some religious practices and they have stayed with me, but I would definitely not call myself a very god-fearing woman. Lata (character in the film) is different from me. I find confused and muddled characters challenging. It was exciting to play something that I am not.
You once told us that as an actor you only want to work on your craft and better it. Did you need to prepare for this role?
Yes, I believe that as an actor you just have to work on your craft. For this role, I had to work at being on the same page as my director and writer. I needed a little bit of preparation because both the writer and director have their individual sense of humour, so I had to match their expectations. We rehearsed on the set, which helped me get the timing right, and that’s a luxury; you don’t have that with every project.
You have played some brilliant roles in a short span of time. How do you select the scripts?
I don’t think there is anyone for whom everything worked well. There are bound to be roles which you pick up with confidence only to find they didn’t work for many reasons; and there are roles which you might not be sure about, but they do wonders. I think the journey of an artiste won’t be interesting if you take that fear away. My primary goal is to experiment and explore; it doesn’t work if you are too cautious.
Do you feel a kind of responsibility when selecting scripts?
Sometimes I do think about that. But mostly I think about my own standards and what is important for me. I don’t say I ignore people’s views and what they want to see. I try to see if the two will go hand-in-hand. And I have one person in the family (husband Mukul Chadda) who keeps giving me inputs, and this motivates me to try new things. It’s important to focus on the idea of doing new rather than doing well. You have to be relevant while choosing projects which challenge you.
Over the years, how has your graph evolved as an actor?
I think a tremendous move has happened since 2017. I have a lot of work and a variety of work, so both are positive. From June 2017 to December 2017 I shot for Manto, Hamid and Mirzapur and all the characters were different from the other. After Manto I found doing Hamid difficult. I find it difficult to move from one project to another and do justice to every character. I am still finding out what I am comfortable doing. As an actor you have to find time to learn something for yourself.
How was it to work with Kunal Kemmu, who is comfortable with the comedy genre?
It was good and interesting. He is good with comedy and happy to have a co-actor who is comfortable with the genre. It brings a good energy to the set.
Your other web series by Mira Nair is also getting good reviews. Did you expect this?
I am really excited. There are so many talented actors from across the globe who bring their experience to the show. We all got along well as actors and I want to see that energy on screen.
There is so much trolling of stars on social media. Do you think stars are easy targets?
Yes they are. But they have the choice of not responding. Having said that, when someone says something on social media, you need to decide whether you want to respond or not; it doesn’t matter whether you are a star or not. You have to ask if that’s a meaningful conversation or not. Are we contributing something beneficial or not? Everyone has the right to speak, but everyone has the right not to speak as well, and I choose that right.