‘She’ Is Very Different From Imtiaz Ali’s Other Work: Vijay Varma
Ahead of the release of Netflix’s new series She written by Imtiaz Ali, actors Vijay Varma and Aaditi Pohankar talk about playing a drug dealer and cop respectively, filming difficult scenes and why this is a different setup for Imtiaz.
So from whatever I have seen of the show, Aaditi you play a cop who goes undercover as a sex worker, and Vijay you play a drug dealer. What went into creating these people?
Aaditi Pohankar: So I think on the whole it was a great journey because we rehearsed a lot, I rehearsed a lot with Imtiaz sir for almost two months. We did readings, constructive workshops and everyone was well aware of each other’s parts. We knew each other and had the script ready.
How did you find that accent? Did you have to find a fine line? How did you do it?
Aaditi: When I gave my audition, when I had the audition script with me, I just tried it in the audition. I said to myself, it’s just an audition and even if I don’t land the part, at least I’ll end up rehearsing a new character. So I tried and I said, see if you want me to do it normally I can but this what I feel because of the way it’s written. So that thing that she’s teasing this guy, that brief that I had, it came out in that tone. The minute I showed a clip to my domestic help, to my cook, she said, “Oh you’ve copied me!”
For you Vijay, how did you create that person?
Vijay Varma: He’s so theatrical in his approach towards the demands that he has. He is strangely thinking that he is the hero and he’s romantic, and at the same time, there is an extreme amount of brutality in his sexuality. So it was repulsive and at the same time magnetic in a strange way when I heard the part. And I was just floored that it came from Imtiaz Ali’s mind. Yeah so different from anything we’ve seen from him.
But you know, it’s interesting that you say brutality when it comes to sexuality because without divulging much there are a few scenes, Aaditi, on the show where your personal space is being massively invaded – complete violation of your personal space. What was it like to shoot? How did you wrap your head around it? Was it emotionally taxing to shoot?
Aaditi: Yeah for that day, it was very disturbing. In fact, even our DOP Amit Roy said, “it was so humiliating for you, and I could see that from the eye of the lens. And I was shaken to see this kind of humiliation when you don’t really see much.”At one point other than your face, you don’t see anything else that’s going on but you feel the jitters. You feel what a woman at that point would feel. So I think if I did play it well, everyone will feel that.
For both of you, what has the advent of something like Netflix or OTT platforms done in terms of interesting work that you can do? You’re doing this, you’re doing another show with Hotstar, you’re doing a show with Prime Video, you’re everywhere. Has this really given you the chance to do more interesting work?
Vijay Varma: Yeah man, I’m thankful to ‘Gully Boy’ because suddenly people who didn’t give attention to what I had to offer are really paying attention to what I have to offer. At the same time, I’m also really in the thick of things and am enjoying being in this creative process. I have no life left other than work.