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‘It was a great learning process’

Last updated on January 11, 2020

Debutants Riva Kishan and Priyaank Sharma talks about their film Sab Kushal Mangal, carrying forward their parents’ legacy and more

THIS YEAR’S first new release Sab Kushal Mangal, directed by Karan Vishwanath Kashyap, is set to launch two new actors: Riva Kishan and Priyaank Sharma. While the former is the daughter of Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishan, the latter is the son of actor Padmini Kolhapure. The film is essentially a love triangle involving a big shot in the world of politics and crime named Baba Bhandari, a reality show host named Pappu Mishra, and a lively girl named Mandira Shukla. The film also stars Akshaye Khanna, Satish Kaushik, Supriya Pathak and Yuvika Chaudhary in pivotal roles.

In this interview, Riva and Priyaank talk about their association with Sab Kushal Mangal, their respective characters in the film and how they prepared for it, their parents’ acting legacy and the challenges that await them.

Excerpts:

How did you get associated with Sab Kushal Mangal ? Also, tell us about your characters in the film.

Riva: I had come home from London for the holidays. That’s when my father got a call from one of the family friends who told him about the offer in a film. Actually, that family friend had shown my picture to Nitin Manmohan Sir. I went for the narration where the director Karan Vishwanath Kashyap Sir was there narrating the story. I had a great time listening to the script. I could literally imagine myself doing all of the fun things that he was narrating. So, that’s how I got associated with the project.

My character’s name is Mandira Shukla. She is very fun loving and bubbly. She is a small-town girl who enjoys her life. But you will get to see her gutsy side too.  Mandira is strongly connected to her family. And, she loves her father very much. That’s a similarity that I share with her. Then there is another side to her where you will see her innocence when it comes to love.

Priyaank: I got a call from the casting director. I learnt that Akshaye Sir is in the film and that Nitin Sir is producing it. As soon as I heard the narration, I knew it was right for me. The character I play is a TV reporter called Pappu Mishra who hosts a reality show called Musibat Odh Li Maine. He is a celebrity in his own space. So, he is confident and street-smart but he is also vulnerable, sensitive, and innocent. Like Mandira, his family is also very important for him.

 

Tell us about your preparation.

Riva: I did workshops with the director. Priyaank was also a part of them. So, we did that for three months together. We worked on the different aspects of our characters — right from perfecting the dialect to living and feeling the characters. Karan Sir made us both work very hard to the point where he was convinced that we are in it.

Priyaank: I think the workshops really helped because the world of a small-town boy was very unfamiliar for me. So, I had to work a lot to get the dialect, nuances and mannerisms right.

Did you have any acting experience prior to signing Sab Kushal Mangal ?

Riva: Yes, I did. I have done theatre with Naseer Sir’s daughter Heeba. I was a part of his theatre group Motley for a few months. In the beginning, I did some backstage work for them. It was only later that they started having some faith in me. That’s when they started casting me in the plays. Right after that I was in Los Angeles doing an acting course. I was there for a year and a half.

Priyaank: I have done acting workshops with Nadira Babbar Ma’am, Salim Arif Sir, Neeraj Kabi Sir, Mukesh Chhabra Sir and Prashant Singh Sir. I also did theatre with Arif Sir. Also, I was very fortunate to do a play written by Gulzar Sahab. Before that I assisted Rajkumar Santoshi sir for two years during which I worked on a bunch of scripts other than assisting him on Phata Poster Nikhla Hero. Before that I also went to the Lee Strasberg Institute for a year and a half.

 

What kind of difficulties did you face while shooting for Sab Kushal Mangal ?

Riva: I think it’s a part of the learning process. It is like trial and error. You learn and you grow. Every day was a new day for us. We had challenges. We are still having challenges and learning.

Priyaank: I weighed 72 kilos before I came on board for Sab Kushal Mangal. Most actors have to train to put up a lot of muscle before they get launched. But I had to go reverse as the character required me to lose about 10 kilos of muscle weight which had taken me a lot of hard work to put on in the first place. But I feel as an actor one must be ready for these challenges. I think that’s what makes it so exciting.

 

What kind of chemistry do the two of you share?

Riva: We started doing the workshops together. Even while I was attending the narration, Priyaank was there. He was signed before me. So, we met for the first time on the day of the narration. Since that day, we clicked really well. We have had that strong bond, connection and comfort level from the very first day. We had all the positives working for us. So, you can say that it was sab kushal mangal between the two of us (chuckles).

Priyaank: While we actually met for the first time on the day of the script narration, it really feels now that we have known each other for years. I think we got along really well right from the first day and as we worked together, we became very good friends. Our friendship helped us to do what we did on the screen.

 

You both are second generation actors. How do you look at the challenge of taking the acting legacy forward?

Riva: Well, I consider myself privileged to be taking my father’s legacy forward. I feel blessed that I have the opportunity. My father was the first person ever in our family to step into the film industry. So, it’s really a very emotional moment for me to be getting the chance to follow his footsteps. It’s something so special that we are celebrating it every day.

Priyaank: I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to take my mother’s legacy ahead. If I can become half the actor my mom is, I think I would be in a good space. It’s a constant learning process at home because everyone is associated with the film industry, including my mom, dad, and my cousins. And we are very close-knit. Every weekend, I meet with Shraddha, Siddhant, Shakti Papa and Shivangi Mausi. We discuss our problems and solve them together. So, that has been a great support for me.

 

We have often seen that getting the first break for second generation actors is relatively easy. Now that you have got your first break, are you prepared for the upcoming challenges, especially given the intense competition?

Riva: Well, I am fully aware of that. Rest, I will just wait for the best time. I hope and pray that people love my work and accept me. As far as the competition is concerned, all I would like to say is that we all are different in our own ways. We all come with different experiences. I have a different face, different eyes, and a different voice. So, I don’t really like comparing myself with anybody. I think everyone out there is very competitive. I appreciate their work very much. And I just hope the best for them as well.

Priyaank: I don’t want to think about the competition right now as I personally feel that I won’t be able to give my best if I start taking any unnecessary pressure. I am just here to do good work. I am willing to give 100% to my work. I leave the rest to God and the audiences. At the end of the day, it’s the audiences that get to decide whether we stay here or not. Also, I don’t want to stick to a particular space. I want to do everything. I want to do action, comedy, drama, suspense and romance. I like to see myself as a movie baby. I can watch four films in a day and I don’t want to stick to any particular genre.

 

What was it like to work with Akshaye Khanna and other senior members of the cast?

Riva: Again, it was a great learning process for us as we got to work with Akshaye Sir, Supriya Pathak Ma’am, Satish Kaushik Sir and Rakesh Bedi Sir. It was really like an extended family and we had great fun together.

Priyaank: The whole ensemble is so powerful. I learnt so much by just being around them. I have always been a great fan of Akshaye Sir’s work. In the film, I have about 60-80 scenes with him and I was a complete novice. So I was scared to be honest. But I was also very excited to be working with him. Nitin Sir made sure that I got to spend a lot of time with Akshaye Sir even before the shoot started and I found him to be such a nice person. On the sets also he made me feel very comfortable. He never made me feel that he is Akshaye Khanna. We often rehearsed together and shared great camaraderie. And now that I am a part of his inner circle, he is nothing less than an elder brother to me.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Riva: I am listening to a few scripts. But I haven’t really signed anything yet. Right now, the entire focus is on Sab Kushal Mangal.

Priyaank: Yes, I do have a couple of offers. But so far, I haven’t signed anything. Hopefully, I will sign something very soon.                       n