Actor Mukul Chadda opens up about his upcoming ventures
From an investment banker in New York, to a Bollywood actor – Mukul Chadda’s journey into the film world has been as intriguing as the characters he portrays on-screen.
Best known for playing the lead role of Jagdeep Chaddha in the Indian edition of the international hit show The Office, he has acted in varied roles and genres in films and shows like Gurgaon, Ek Main aur Ekk Tu, Bichoo Ka Khel, among others.
Next in his pipeline is the ZEE5 web series Sunflower, a crime-comedy set in a typically middle-class housing society in Mumbai. Directed by Vikas Bahl, the show is filled with quirky characters.
Chadda plays the role of Mr. Ahuja in this situational crime dark comedy series. He will be also be seen in Amit Masurkar’s film Sherni with Vidya Balan which is all set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video soon.
The actor, in conversation with Patriot, talks about these upcoming projects, shooting amid a pandemic and more. Excerpts:
Tell us about your role in the upcoming crime-comedy web series Sunflower?
My role is that of Dr. Ahuja, who is a resident of Sunflower Building Society. He is somebody who has a very short temper at times and gets into these petty fights with other people in the building. I’m very excited about playing this character because this is very different from some of the other roles that I have done; so yeah, it was quite fascinating, challenging and fun to play this part.
The show boasts a great ensemble — from Sunil Grover, Ashish Vidyarthi to Ranvir Shorey. How was it collaborating with them?
Wonderful. I think one of the other strong points about this show is that it has a wonderful and strong ensemble cast, more than just the names mentioned. Everybody does a fine job and it is really a pleasure and a joy to create scenes and create moments with good actors, so I thought it was quite a privilege to get the opportunity to work with some of them. In fact, if anything, I feel I wish I had more scenes with some of these wonderful actors you’ve talked about. Most of my scenes were with Ranvir, Radha and Ashwin Kaushal, which were also great because I did a lot of scenes with these three actors so we were able to develop an equation over time. But I wish I had more scenes with so many other actors like Girish Kulkarni, Sunil Grover etc.
You will be seen in Sherni next. Tell us about your role in the film?
In Sherni, I play a very different character. His name is Pawan and he is somebody who works at a FMCG firm. He seemingly is this regular corporate guy but there were some interesting layers to his character and to his relationship with Vidya that Amit Masurkar wanted to work with, and I found that quite interesting.
How was it working with Vidya Balan and filmmaker Amit Masurkar?
I think it’s wonderful. I think one of the joys of Sherni is that you had a wonderful set of people to work with. Amit, I’m such a fan of his work, one of the main reasons I did this film was because I wanted to work with him and he has this wonderful energy on sets and gets very excited about moments and scenes and that’s great to work with. Vidya is also very nice to work with. I think Vidya has got this great quality apart from being a great actor — she’s someone who just makes everyone around her very comfortable, so it just puts everybody at ease. You forget that you are in the presence of somebody who is a huge star and you are just working towards making the scene better and that’s a great quality she has. In general, it was great working with people like this.
You have worked across mediums – from theatres, films to OTT platforms. How different has the experience been working from each of these?
Well, if you’re talking about live theatre or I’ve even had a lot of improv, so any kind of live theatre or live improv on-stage is a very different experience from working in front of the camera, whether it’s a film or OTT. But I think once you take those differences aside, I mean working on a stage is totally different because you rehearse for many weeks then you perform the show in one take effectively and you perform each scene in the same order as your audience sees them. Film and camera are totally different in the sense that while you might rehearse for each scene before the scene itself, you shoot multiple takes for each scene and you get that opportunity and you shoot the scenes in a very non-linear order, so the script has to be locked tight in that sense while you’re creating it. So those experiences are different whether it’s camera or stage but within a camera work when you’re talking about film or OTT, it doesn’t really make a difference to the process for the actor so I don’t see any distinction in the way we approach constructing a scene or working on a character whether it’s for a film or OTT.
How was it to shoot amid a pandemic?
It’s a good question. It was a tough thing to do because there were all kinds of precautions that had to be taken. We had to be tested and socially isolate as much as we could on other occasions and when we’re not in the scene, wearing masks and even things on set being sanitised from time to time. All those things made it difficult, but in one sense those were also good because it allowed you to feel comfortable that the set was a secured area. So, while you were shooting a scene you didn’t have it in the back of your mind that you have to distance from other people or be conscious or be worried about the virus. Of course, there’s always some risk, but since a lot of precautions were taken it kind of mitigated that need for fear. But I will also say that before shooting or before going on the set or before the whole process of starting the very first shoot in the pandemic, there was some nervousness naturally because one was hoping that things were fine so that you didn’t take too many risks and I think in that regard most of the producers did a very good job.
(Cover: Actor Mukul Chadda)
(Sunflower starts streaming on ZEE5 from June 11. Sherni is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on June 18)