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Exclusive! Charu Shankar: My father met Indira Gandhi during early days of government service

Updated on: 12 April,2023 04:53 PM IST  |  mumbai
Natasha Coutinho D`souza |

Charu Shankar plays former Indira Gandhi in 'Rocket Boys 2'

Exclusive! Charu Shankar: My father met Indira Gandhi during early days of government service

Charu Shankar

Actress Charu Shankar has been working on interesting projects from the web series 'Rocket Boys 2' to the Ranbir Kapoor starrer 'Animal.' She recently got into a chat with Read on to find out more!

How was the experience of working on 'Rocket Boys 2?'

Being on the set of 'Rocket Boys' was like getting a crash course in modern Indian history. Most of my scenes were with the actors who populated 'Teen Murti Bhavan' in our show. Rajit Kapoor who plays Nehru, Vivek Tandon who plays Haksar, KS Sridhar who plays the formidable Kamraj, and Harssh Singh, who plays Morarji Desai- all of us bonded between shots, debating history, telling stories of little forgotten tidbits of forgotten history. We were all playing the policymakers and architects of Modern India.

You are playing the character of Indira Gandhi in 'Rocket Boys,' what preparation did you do for the same?

I looked at a lot of her speeches and interviews that are available online, it gave me a fairly good idea of her way with words, her posture, her elegant demeanour, and her powerful walk. She had an incredible flair for language, and would often make very compelling arguments, but always in a charming way. She was disarming, and then there was that indescribable, inherent force of character. I tried to keep all that in mind when I did my scenes, rather than try and copy any particular style or accent or pitch of voice. 

I also spoke to my father- who had met Mrs Gandhi in his early days of government service, and my uncle, who was a press photographer when she was in office. And they both described her to me as someone who was very dignified even in the most trying of times, and someone who always gave you her full, undivided attention. Raghu Rai’s book of her photographs was also very helpful, and I tried to capture some of the magic of those beautiful photographs. So I guess you can say my prep was a bit abstract. But in retrospect I’m glad we left room for imagination. Because no one really knows what her personal, private moments and conversations were like. We can only imagine. I tried to keep all these things in mind when I was on set.

You are also part of Ranbir Kapoor starrer Animal. How's the experience while working with the whole team?

It’s my pleasure and honour to be working with Anil Kapoor and Ranbir, and all the actors in Animal.

You have also worked with Irrfan Khan in Hindi Medium. Any memories that come to mind?

Yes, I worked on Irrfan ji’s film ‘Hindi Medium’ and I was lucky enough to be in a few scenes with him. So I got a chance to observe him, and his incredible craft, from close quarters. In one particular scene, we were all sitting in a school auditorium setting and Irrfan ji comes on stage to deliver a particularly moving speech. The first time he did it, after the speech was over, he wiped his tears and looked at the Director, who had forgotten to say cut, he was so moved in that moment. That speech was shot many times with different camera angles, but each time, Irrfan Sir delivered the 2 page speech with such a strong underlying force of emotion, we were moved to tears every single time. He was an incredibly powerful actor. Losing him has been a tremendous loss to the industry.

What is your upcoming project with Pankaj Kapur about?

I’m looking forward to the release of our film Directed by Ssanjay Tripathy, with Pankaj Kapur ji, which is about 3 generations living under the same roof, and the hilarious and sometimes tragic situations that arise as a result of generation gaps. We finished shooting this film last year in UK, and it is currently in post production.

Also Read: 'The Crown' undergoes rewrite for Season 6 following Gillian Anderson's exit

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