Working With Amazon Prime Is Liberating: ‘Afsos’ Cast
A man is desperately trying to end his life. He tries every trick of the trade but is unable to do so. Each time he tries to kill himself, he fails and has to go back to living the life that he thinks is ‘bad’. This is the premise of Amazon Prime’s new show Afsos - a black comedy written by Anirban Dasgupta and Sourav Ghosh and stars Gulshan Devaiah in the leading role. Ahead of its release, we chatted with Anirban Dasgupta and Gulshan Devaiah about making the show, the advent of OTT platforms and more.
So this is about a guy who is trying to kill himself but is not able to do so and
I could watch a little bit of the show. It’s almost like funny but not, and then funny but not. It’s morbid but funny. How was it like enacting this for you?
Gulshan Devaiah: You know sometimes we suffer in our imagination a lot more than reality, so Nakul is one of those losers who thinks his life is worse than what it actually is. And he is a functioning loser, he’ll wake up in the morning take a shower, he’ll shave, wear pressed clothes and all that. Then he’ll be like I need to die, there’s no one for me. He’s himself said that ‘I’m a loser’. And he started believing in it so much that everything he does he will blame it on his luck.
But what’s also cool is that he goes to a therapist on the show and there are few examples of times that I can remember in films or shows where I have actually seen that happen. And that’s a reality for a lot of people. Is that something that you guys thought about?
Anirban Dasgupta: Shloka’s character, the therapist, wasn’t there in the initial drafts. Then I was going to therapy, and then I could see that there could be value for a character like this for Nakul who is going through this phase. Shloka’s character is actually one of my favourite characters because how it has taken shape in its final form is beautiful.
She is his reality check. She’s a therapist but she is also a manipulative therapist. You don’t want your therapist to be that manipulative but that’s his luck that he’s met her.
Can you tell me scenarios on other sets that have made you uncomfortable or have come in the way of your performance? Like an annoying director or whatever.
Gulshan Devaiah: Mr Bhansali’s set is quite testing. People say things about him and they’re all true. They don’t say things about him which are nice things also which I don’t know why they wouldn’t say. He’s an extremely passionate man so sometimes what happens is that he is so passionate and so dedicated to his work that I think he expects everybody to have the same kind of passion. And then he realises that they don’t. So sometimes he can really let one off. That is really unpleasant and you really don’t know what to do after that. Yeah, absolutely you don’t know what to do after that.
Usually, I get a little worked up with most of the action directors who work in Bollywood. I’ve worked with some people from the US also, I’m sorry guys but they are a lot more organised and they want to be as composed and calm as possible because health and safety and getting things right and being meticulous is something they practice. They are obsessed about that, we are not so, I think we need to change this culture a little bit over here. So whenever I am working on a set and there are action people, I’m always a little nervous. Because they have a certain energy which kind of messes with your energy and I am very relaxed and composed. The more composed I am, the better I am. Sometimes with those guys, it’s like let’s do this, that. For some reason I don’t trust them, they’re all nice people. But because they are all screaming and they want you to jump etc people get injured you know.
But tell me what it’s like to work with a platform like Amazon Prime, is it like liberating for you?
Anirban Dasgupta: It’s very liberating, there was no interference till the end of the edit. Even in the pitch, when we were narrating the first episode, they told us that I can sense that you are holding back. Don’t. And I told them that I am holding back because you’re Amazon. But they’re like no you are absolutely on the right track and just go deeper into this, make it wilder, make it the best you can. So that gave us a lot of encouragement and that’s the best kind of encouragement where they tell you just go for it and they don’t disturb you for the next one year.
Gulshan Devaiah: Let’s do some ass-kissing, thank you Amazonians, we are very grateful to you Amazonians.
Afsos is streaming on Amazon Prime 7 February onwards.
Video Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan