Hitlist Web Awards: 'In a series, characters can be lived with for a long time'

Updated: 09 March, 2020 07:33 IST | Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

As voting lines close today, and in the run-up to the mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards, nominees in acting categories Neeraj, Dhruv and Shweta on shining in roles not traditionally associated with them

Neeraj Madhav, Dhruv Sehgal and Shweta Tripathi. Pics/Shadab Khan
Neeraj Madhav, Dhruv Sehgal and Shweta Tripathi. Pics/Shadab Khan

In an era where the top brass of Bollywood enjoys their reign over specific genres, their counterparts on the web platform are punching above their weight to ensure they are cast against type. Having shone in a spate of comedy films in South Indian cinema in the past, Neeraj Madhav's turn as a cold-blooded terrorist in Manoj Bajpayee-led The Family Man, has been equally laudable.

Sharing the couch with Dhruv Sehgal and Shweta Tripathi in the second edition of the Sit With Hitlist Huddle — that brings together nominees in the acting categories of the upcoming mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards on March 19 — Madhav's trajectory isn't far distanced from that of Tripathi. However, while Madhav was offered the role upfront when he accepted a "call from a random number", that turned out to be that of casting director Mukesh Chhabra, Tripathi admits that she had to work a little harder to bag roles that appeased her heart. "Before Masaan, everybody felt I was up-market, and would not fit into the role of a middle-class [person]. As actors, we need to keep breaking stereotypes," she says of her part in Amazon Prime Video's Laakhon Mein Ek.

Shweta Tripathi

Little Things writer-actor Dhruv Sehgal decided to take matters into his own hands after he was told to generate his own material, if he wanted to be part of roles he wasn't deemed fit for. "When you are 21 [years of age], you will always be limited, because you will always be at the mercy of someone else. Even now, I am called to audition for the part of a young father. When they say 'young', I tell them please make me old."

Uninhibited about having their acting chops tested over the long format of a web series, the trio, in fact, celebrates the fact that the extended narrative gives them scope and "space" to showcase their prowess. "On the OTT platform, one can live with the character for a longer period of time. The primary character's graph is juicier, [which means we are] spoiled. In feature films, even if one is the protagonist, how many lines and songs will s/he have when compared to a web series? On the OTT platform, even the primary characters grow, as the story progresses," says Tripathi, nominated for her act of a doctor in the final year of training.

 Pics/Shadab Khan
Pics/Shadab Khan

Citing an instance of how the length of the project doesn't play spoilsport on the web platform, Madhav says, "In a commercial movie, if one takes a long pause, it gets edited. But, in a web series, one can dive into the character [by doing so]. Hence, an actor gets to explore the character better."

Having pulled of performances as nuanced as they are evidently implies that the trio has a trick or two that they employ to comprehend the psyche of characters. "The home work that I do [for a role] is find a person who is similar to my character. For Moosa, I couldn't do so, since I obviously don't know any terrorists," laughs Madhav, adding that in the absence of a role model, he trained his attention towards comprehending the character's emotional quotient. "There were many layers [to Moosa], so I worked on that and [held on] to particular moments."

Dhruv Sehgal and Neeraj Madhav
Dhruv Sehgal and Neeraj Madhav

Tripathi finds her inroad into understanding her character via external stimuli. "My costume is important, as is my playlist. I can get into a zone by listening to [a certain kind of] music. While shooting for Mirzapur, I had a playlist for Golu [her character]. For Massan, my playlist included songs from Guru and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak."

Hitlist Web Awards Timeline

. Voting lines close on March 9, at midnight.
. There are 14 categories you can vote in. Log on to www.hitlistwebawards.com to cast your vote.
. You can also vote via SMS. Send HITLIST <space> category name <space> your choice (a/b/c/d as on the website) to 57575.
. The awards will be held on March 19, in Mumbai.
. Watch the full Sit With Hitlist huddle with actors on the website, www.hitlistweb awards.com

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First Published: 09 March, 2020 07:21 IST

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