First takes, good show: Mithya

Bhagyashree’s daughter Avantika Dassani debuts in Mithya, a six-part Zee5 Original series directed by Rohan Sippy

In Image: Avantika Dassani

In the series, Avantika plays the part of Rhea Rajguru—a scheming and vengeful student who gets accused of plagiarism by her teacher Juhi Adhikari (essayed by Huma Qureshi), a professor of Hindi literature at a Darjeeling-based college.

Produced by Applause Entertainment in association with Rose Audio Visual Production, the series also stars Huma Qureshi, Parambrata Chatterjee, Rajit Kapur and Samir Soni in pivotal roles.

Avantika has been receiving a lot of praise for her performance, particularly for nailing such a complex character so early in her career. It’s heartening to see a young performer willing to push herself to such limits.

In the hands of a less committed actor, a character like Rhea could easily have got reduced to a mere caricature but Avantika succeeds in breathing life into it. One can’t help but admire her confidence at such a young age. It’s really remarkable to see how she as managed to steal the scenes in which she features.

In this interview, Avantika Dassani talks about her complex character in Mithya and how she prepared for it, the pressure of expectations as the daughter of a famous actress, the onscreen chemistry she shares with Huma Qureshi and Parambrata Chatterjee in the Zee5 series, and her views on the web as a medium as well as her upcoming projects.

Excerpts

Q1. You have been receiving a lot of praise for your portrayal of a scheming and vengeful college student in the Zee5 series Mithya. How did you get associated with the project?

I am overwhelmed by the response. I auditioned for the part and it immediately struck a chord with the casting director, producers and our director, who thought I would make an interesting Rhea. I am grateful to the whole cast and crew for their support.

Q2. Tell us about the kind of preparation that went into it. How challenging was it for you to play a complex character like Rhea that finds itself in such a dark place? Did you have any references to begin with?

Actually, we didn’t have a lot of time for preparation. The shooting date wasn’t very far when I signed onto the project. We just had the time for a couple of reads. But the reading sessions proved to be very helpful for us in order to understand the equations between all the characters that constitute the world of Mithya. During this whole time, I would keep asking questions and discussing with Rohan Sir how we both saw Rhea. This I thought was important in order to shape her as a person: what are her traits, who she is, what choices would she make and why she is the way she is. To me, this was very important to create the layered version audiences have enjoyed hating while still feeling bad for her. Rhea is emotional she’s also very resilient. So, it was always challenging but interesting to try and bring out that juxtaposition. I must say that have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and learnt an incredible amount from it.

Q3. Your character shares very interesting chemistry with the characters played by both Huma Qureshi and Parambrata Chattopadhyay. What kind of off-camera interactions did you have with Huma and Parambrata?

Well, I could not have asked for better co-actors for my first project. Both Huma and Parambrata made me feel so comfortable. It has been such a blast to work with both of them. They both are so talented, intelligent and fun to be with. So we left the intensity for the camera. Off-camera, we were always just playing games, joking around and enjoying ourselves.

Q4. How do you look at the web as a medium?

I think it’s been a game changer that is allowing a plethora of talented actors, writers, directors to shine. It’s the reason our audiences have an evolved taste and the industry has more to look forward to.

Q5. As the daughter of a popular actress like Bhagyashree, how difficult is it to cope with the pressure of expectations? 

  1. Of course, there is pressure, but I am trying to take one day at a time. I want to focus on one project at a time. Learning and growing as actor which will hopefully allow me to concentrate on the craft and keep my mind of the ‘pressures’ that one can unfortunately steer you away. 

Q6. Tell us about your state of mind right now. Also, tell us about your upcoming projects.

I am currently riding high on the success of Mithya and want to continue taking on interesting stories and characters like this, which keep me trying and testing new avenues. 

I am currently shooting for a Telugu film. And for the rest, I can’t say just yet; too early to talk but keeping my fingers crossed for all to pan out properly.

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Murtaza Ali Khan has been a film critic since 2010. He has curated and presented retrospectives and film festivals for various embassies and high commissions in New Delhi. He has also served on the jury for a variety of film festivals. He tweets at @MurtazaCritic