Interview with Cyrus Sahukar and Ira Dubey from SonyLIV's 'Potluck'
Get to know how the crew managed to pull this shoot off during lockdowns!
Q – How was it being part of the crazy Shastri family?
Cyrus – It was incredible being part of the Shastri family. I have rarely seen a family depicted with all the realism of our daily life. Each character is designed specially, and everyone plays their character perfectly bringing out those nuances. The show captures the beautiful elements of eccentricity peppered with love, care and misunderstandings. Everyone has such different personalities, yet you can immediately tell we are all one family. It sees life as a very real aspect of our lives, the way people in one family are. And I think that beautifully written and portrayed without being heavily stated in the show and that makes it amazing being part of the Shastri family.
Q - How was the shooting experience and what was the off shoot dynamic between the cast like?
Cyrus – The shooting experience was crazy. As for Bavneet and Gaurav, the producers Rajshree Ojha, and everyone else who worked on it, I don't think enough has been said. As a result, we've put in a lot of effort. In a large bubble, we all lived together, and I've formed lifelong friends with the great ensemble. It's clear that everyone in the cast has each other's backs and is looking out for one another. The food was brought in from several households once the packaging was done. Everything happened in a single room, and everyone ate together at every meal. There was a lot of conversation. We swapped experiences from our own lives. I've never seen a set where the entire cast eats and hangs out together every day.
Q – What are the some of the elements of a family setup portrayed through a Potluck?
Cyrus – We all take each other for granted, for example, is one of the key aspects. A disagreement or argument between the parents often results in Vikrant, the oldest, being dragged and summoned. We all have obligations to our families that we don't want to fulfil, yet must. After a certain age, children begin to parent their parents since there are so many hidden dynamics. To me, the show's greatest strength lies in its ability to speak directly to the concerns, cares, worries, and challenges of being a young parent to children. In addition to their anxieties, they also worry about finances and whether or not they can afford a nicer dwelling for themselves and their children. It's well told and written, and it paints a really intriguing portrait of the ordinary modern young man.
Q – What according to you will be the biggest takeaway from this show, especially in the times where family love tops everything else?
Cyrus - I think everyone takes something different out from it, but for me, what I took away was that we have all been told a certain idea of a family through the years through television, cinema, and so many other art forms and it is never really what it is.
Q- How was it shooting with the kids?
Cyrus – It was a challenge to film with children since we all understood that we had to create an environment that was enjoyable for them all. It was common for our 2-year-old twins, who were youngest and cried a lot. It is your responsibility as an actor to watch out and make sure they don't pick up anything from the set. In addition, you must make sure that the youngsters are fed and put to bed on time. The parents were on set with us, but there is a lot of responsibility that comes along with being an actor. Because kids provide so much love to you, it's also amazing.
Q – What is your take on the OTT industry? Do you think it gives artists more options to explore with various genres and characters?
Cyrus – There is nothing better that could have happened to the entertainment industry than OTT. Those stories that otherwise would not have been told. Theatre, stage and film performers who would not otherwise have been able to display their talent are all being examined. There is an exploration of the culture of writing, and I'm a huge admirer of the OTT platform and what they're doing with it.
Q- What’s upcoming for you?
Cyrus – Upcoming for me is Potluck and then Mind The Malhotra’s Season 2 which I am shooting currently. I also shot a series for Emmy Entertainment called Kaun Banega Shekharvati which should release soon it is directed by Gaurav Chawla with a lovely cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Raghubir Yadav, Lara Dutta, Kritika Kamra, Varun Thakur Anya Singh and me and I am very excited about it. It is a quirky comedy set in Rajasthan. Currently, I'm working on Byju's School Super League, India's largest quiz show, for Discovery and a series for MTV.
Q - So Ira how it been a part of crazy Shastri family?
Ira – It was great fun, but it was a combination of things that made it like that for me. For three weeks in February, we shot in the bio bubble in Delhi, doing everything together and working long hours. In total, we filmed eight episodes there. In addition, we spent a lot of time together, and as I've mentioned previously, it's unusual for things to fall into place, and this is the bulk of the show. The entire cast is stunning. Despite our reluctance to admit it, after reading the first three episodes, we all had a sense that this was going to be something extraordinary. We assumed that it would be great fun and fortunately that is exactly how it went. I think the producers were very clever to throw to put us all together in the bio bubble which didn’t give us any chance to escape. It was because of this that we were spending every waking moment with one other, and that bonding can be seen on the screen. Kitu, Jatin sir and the elder generation of performers were all great pleasure to work with. We are all young, brilliant, and distinctive in our own ways.
Q- How was the shooting experience and what was the off shooting dynamics between the cast like?
Ira - We were together 24/7. During the pandemic, this was the best and safest technique to shoot. As a result, we shot long days and spent a lot of time together, even when we weren't filming, and it was a lot of fun. Lots of food was consumed and lots of laughs was shared. A couple of times a week we would jump in the pool and attempt to relax for a few hours. We began filming at our home because the show's premise dictates that everything takes place in the house, and everyone had their own homes. After a week of filming we were exhausted. As Shikha stated, we've all kept in touch with each other. We've got like five Whatsapp groups for a Potluck, and everyone's enthusiastic about the series and the trailer's success.
Q- What are some of the elements of a family setup that have portrayed through potluck?
Ira- –I think it's a comedy-drama and it's a genre that hasn't been explored much on OTT yet, so I'm intrigued. I believe it's a great fresh place where you can see programmes like that being filmed here. Unusual because of its urban Indian family setting. It's something that I believe we can all connect to. It is because of this that we have become fairly westernised in many respects in our thinking. It is extremely Indian to have a close relationship with your family no matter where you move. We desire independence and individualism, and we want our own identities. As a result, I believe the programme is aiming to look at a slice of life that we tend to forget about all the time. It's vital for a family narrative to debunk a lot of preconceptions and myths using comedy. Having a family is a messy and complex endeavour. It is clear from the teaser that there are a lot of different opinions. A lot of things collide, and the term potluck is really smart and lovely. Even more important is what occurs during a potluck. We are now living in the post-covid era, when everyone has come to recognise the value of these connections between people. With noodles, spaghetti, biryani, and other dishes, potluck brings everyone together around the table for a meal of deliciousness. Individuality and diversity are celebrated in school, which is, of course, a time for community bonding and for the family to spend time together. Actor personalities will shine in the show. So, Akash is the eldest child of the Shastri family. This man had a decent career before, but is now attempting to make his own way in the world.Now my character had a very good job, later we have a 5 years old daughter and later an unplanned kid. As a result, they are now stuck with three children and are attempting to combine job and family life in order to make it work. They're just a typical couple who cares about their children, but one day they'll exchange positions. Today, it's crucial that even a male can stay at home while the woman is at work. All of these misconceptions should be avoided. As another example, Saas and Bahu must be staring each other in the eye. As a result, I believe that it has been done to death and has grown redundant over time.It is the wrong sought of the message to be constantly giving out. Daughter-in-law and mother-in-law could support each other and love each other as well especially in big cities like Mumbai, where you should rent or buy what is an everyday concern for the couple is going through. Both families the nuclear and the larger family and then people are living their own life and go into different phases of their life. The other couple the younger couple and his wife are also very successful working professionals but they don’t want a child now. At some level, they also try to say that women are allowed these choices. A woman can be a working mother, she cannot want to have kids it is her choice. The relationship between the elder and younger generation is constantly in a very quirky, real, relatable, natural, and wonderful way and the kudos for it goes to the both writer and the actors.
Q- What according to you will be the biggest take away from this show and specially in the times when family love is you know tops everything at this point, so what will be the biggest take away?
Ira- The strangeness, crazy, and conflicts amongst siblings and partners in your family have to be accepted as part of your life. That's just the way it is. You have no choice in the matter. In the series, food is the way that we come together, and it is a reminder to love your family because they are the ones who are going to be there.
Q- How was it shooting with the kids was it challenging, was it fun how was it?
Ira- The youngsters are lovely. As a result of their efforts, the show's producers were able to find three deliciously edible kid performers. Aradhya, the 5-year-old, is a fantastic actor, and they plan to take her again in a short film. I think she's a great actor. This makes me feel a little like a pet. In a previous film, I worked with a child and became a mother. I have very strong opinions about child actors in general. Depending on how the child is raised, he or she might become carried away if his or her parents don't give the proper message and don't instil the right values in him or her. This is a world of glitter and movies where they are too young, and their childhood is ruined. This time, it was nice to see how grounded, calm, and sympathetic Aradhya was. She's also a fantastic performer. Compared to the rest of us, she is more spontaneous. Being a kid actress allows you to be less self-conscious. Working with her was a pleasure. Her parents should be commended for bringing her up so nicely. The others who didn’t speak a word were adorable and very challenging to work with. Working with youngsters has a certain type of charm. The pros outweigh the drawbacks in my opinion. You have to have a lot of patience, awareness, attention, and attentiveness in order to complete this task. As soon as the camera is activated, the kids are free to do anything they want in front of or behind the camera.
After playing role of the mother of 3 kids I feel that I am not at all one of that actresses who will say that ohh we can’t become mothers. People need to recognize that this is very much possible. There are millions of working mothers out there who balance it all and this is very important that actresses should not feel as the times have changed.
Q – What is your take on the OTT industry. Do you think it gives artist more options to explore with various genres and characters.
Ira - It's a fact that OTT is the future, regardless of how people feel about it. As a result of covid, more and more individuals are watching material from all over the world on their mobile devices. We all enjoy viewing movies on the big screen, and I'll be the first to admit that we're all missing it. They are a part of our industry and shouldn't be forgotten. OTT providers in India must increase the bar on quality as the world gets smaller, more interconnected, and more exposed to material from around the globe. I've always had the impression that we have a high level of technological proficiency not only in the entertainment business, but in every other profession as well. Indians are doing well across the world. The OTT has allowed us to attain a particular level of quality. Content has become much more diverse. As a result, you now have a considerably larger number of genres to choose from. At first, there was a fascination with violence, crime, and all that stuff, and we all liked it. For example, I've always enjoyed writing. There was a time, ten years ago, when finding tales was a challenge. People in India have a sloppy manner of copying things. Originality is something I believe we need to explore more. It's all linked together. As an actor, I believe that if the technical standards of the industry are raised, the writing, the acting, and everything else improves. Suddenly, everyone is pushing their craft to the limit. 15 years ago, when I wanted to study theatre in 2001, there were no schools here, only NSD and FTI. These days, individuals are passionate about their craft. There are agencies that represent authors, a writer's union, etc. From Priyanka to Anushka to everyone else, there are a lot more female filmmakers and producers. I believe the entire dynamic has shifted, and it will only continue to grow. Because of this, the star system is in a state of disarray, and performers are taking their professions seriously. There is room for all types of performers, including those who have come from various mediums, such as cinema, television, or provincial theatre. There is place for everyone! An actor may have the best of both worlds during the pandemic, which is why I made my first short film during the outbreak. Ten years ago, it would have been impossible for me to establish up a production company and go into producing and directing.
Q- What is upcoming for you any projects or ventures that you would like to talk about?
Ira – There is a web series on Amazon called Baba Black Sheep which is directed by Raja Menon. It will be out by the end of the year. I have played a small part in that. It is a wonderful show, a satire on our spiritual gurus has a fantastic cast. Netflix’s film with Abaas Mustan which is called Penthouse will also be coming out by the end of the year. I produced my first short film which I am supremely excited about with Naseeruddin Shah with both of us acting in it. That is a father-daughter story and it deals with the theme of alcoholism so that is going to festivals as we speak. Hopefully next year it will be on the platform in India. In terms of theatre which we are all missing as Shikha would agree that it has taken such a big hit in the last year and a half all over the world but I am excited to say that they are looking at a new play with my mother. It is based on Shobha De’s book Lockdown Lays On story is from the lockdown and it is a series of monologues with 3 actors and we are hoping to open that in October or November in Mumbai.
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