Some of the best performers on streaming platforms this year – Geetanjali Kulkarni, Amit Sial, Masaba Gupta, Karthi, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Ishwak Singh – spoke about their creative processes on the Streaming Adda 2022 roundtable with Film Companion. The actors talked about cracking chemistry with their co-stars, devising methods to convincingly deliver friendship, romance and camaraderie with co-actors they have, sometimes, never met before.
Talking about the easy chemistry between the key cast members of Gullak, Geetanjali Kulkarni gave complete credit to The Viral Fever (TVF), the creative team behind the warm family drama. “We rehearsed a lot,” she said. “We rehearsed for 10 days, so that was our bonding time. It was like a theatre rehearsal: we learnt our lines by-heart. It had to be a banter, you can’t have pauses because it was written in a certain way, it had a certain style.” This belief in collective practice led to the energy shared between the cast in Gullak. “After the first season, it was very natural for us to react to each other’s lines. The foundation was so strong that now we can play on that,” she said.
Masaba Gupta, on the other hand, had not met her co-star Ritwik Bhowmik before they started shooting for I Love Thane, a segment on Amazon Prime’s Modern Love: Mumbai. However, Gupta went through rigorous rehearsals, with director Dhruv Sehgal playing her on-screen love interest, Parth, until the day of the shoot. “By the time I got to the set, I was already in love with Parth. I already knew that this is the man I want to end up with – I went in feeling like that,” she says. On the day Gupta was supposed to shoot with Bhowmik, she had no idea what he would be like. “What if he’s like a nasty guy?” she said. “But I went in there and I said, ‘I’m gonna be my warmest, best self. I’m gonna pretend I already love Ritwik Bhowmik and I’m gonna drop my guard.’ And I think that chemistry and making magic on screen have a lot to do with dropping your guard. And dropping your ego as an actor,” shared the actress.
Ishwak Singh, who starred in Rocket Boys – which offered a holistic view on Vikram Sarabhai’s career, love life and ambition – stressed on having different kinds of approaches for different scenes. “Sometimes you need rehearsals – like when Jim [Sarbh] and I are going on about science and betrayal – but for certain scenes, you want to go in and do it organically because it resonates with you or it’s a knock-off from your own life.” While a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t have worked for Rocket Boys, Singh believes that understanding the core of one’s character plays a key role in carving out an authentic relationship with another character on-sreen. “Once you know your character and that foundation is clear, whether you’re working with [any aspect of the character’s life], it just works,” said the actor.
Kathir, who starred in Pushkar-Gayatri’s Suzhal: The Vortex, tries to focus on not only the mood of the scene and how his co-stars interpret it but also the bond he shares with his co-actors both on and off the screen. “Sriya [Reddy], who played Regina, is actually a very tough person. The only person she loves on set is me. We share the same kind of a bond off screen and I believe in that,” he said. With certain sequences that had multiple actors, Kathir remembers spending two hours with them before the shoot. “We didn’t rehearse lines, we were just talking. The other guys also got comfortable after that because they were also new. So, that matters to me,” the actor shared.
Amit Sial – known for Jamtara and most recently, Maharani – talked about how there isn’t a single method to crack chemistry; it’s circumstantial. “If you don’t get time for rehearsals, you start working off of the off-screen chemistry and then you build it on-screen. You hang out with each other – drink your teas, coffees, maybe some lovely-lovelies in the night – just try to know each other as people,” said the actor. Sial mentioned that nothing beats workshopping together. However, when neither is feasible, an actor must do what he can. “The dictionary meaning of act is to do. When you don’t have time for workshops or building something off-screen, you just do what is written. Don’t think about it too much,” he said. The actor shared how, upon meeting his co-star for the first time – the woman he was supposed to romance on Marine Drive – he suggested that they start frantically kissing each other as soon as the camera starts rolling. “It looked beautiful. You’re working for the screen so you need to devise ways to get the organic-ness of it on-screen,” said the actor.