Following a game-changing year, actors Shreya Dhanwanthary (Scam 1992), Saiyami Kher (Choked), Priyanshu Painyuli (Extraction, Mirzapur 2), Abhishek Banerjee (Paatal Lok) and Harshvardhan Rane (Taish ) assembled for our Breakout Stars Of Streaming roundtable. The actors discussed how they made a mark and what was distinctive about their individual projects.
Was there a specific moment during the making of your projects, where you felt that ‘this could really go on to be something special’?
Priyanshu Painyuli: Yeah, for me it was when I read the role of Amir Asif in Extraction and I said ‘I’m in a Russo Brothers film!’. While watching The Avengers, I never imagined that I’ll be playing a negative role across Chris Hemsworth. Also not just being part of a film like that, but playing a Bangladeshi gangster. For them to take a risk with me so early in my career with a film like this and make me a gangster was a big deal. But with the OTT space that’s happening. And I knew it was going to go global and people were going to watch it around the world. After the film I got messages from Spain and Brazil and everywhere and it was like ‘wow, they really took me as the Pablo Escobar of Dhaka’. So, I think while reading it I knew this was going to go everywhere. And that’s also exactly what happened with Robin in Mirzapur 2. Any actor would agree that that’s one of the most interesting roles to play.
Abhishek Banerjee: For me it was the minute I read the script of Paatal Lok. I think it was very clear that this is something special and this character is going to be special. You knew that if this was executed well, it would really go somewhere. But obviously you can’t be sure of how it’ll translate from paper to screen, you’re never sure. But I think the day I shot that last scene with Jaideep (Ahlawat), which was actually my third day of shoot, after shooting that scene I knew that something was going to happen after this and at people won’t only cast me in those ‘quirky comedy’ roles. Which is exactly what happened.
Saiyami Kher: With Choked, honestly when there’s a name like Anurag Kashyap attached, you know it’s going to be different because he’s a very unpredictable man. He will experiment and throw you in the deep. But when I read the script I remember thinking ‘why is he asking me to do a role like this? What does he see?’ Because I didn’t see myself in it when I read it. I knew it was going to be special because it was a role that nobody would have imagined me in.
Shreya Dhanwanthary: Well, the script of Scam 1992 was 550 pages and it was so detailed that it was such a joy to read. Just like Abhishek said, once you read fantastic writing, you’re excited because that’s a rare phenomenon. And I’ve read the Paatal Lok script, it was fantastic. So, it’s just when you read the script you’re just excited to be a part of this project. Then you add the fact that you’re playing someone like Sucheta Dalal. Then you add the fact that every single person on the project was so aware that an opportunity like this isn’t often offered to people like us, and we were very aware of the weight. So every single person in front of the camera and behind, gave their blood sweat and tears to it. And then you have Hansal Mehta helming it. I was so grateful for the opportunity that the process of making it was such a blessing. And the fact that it blew up the way it did was such a kick.
Harshvardhan Rane: With me, I feel like everything I’ve done felt like it could be special but a lot of the time it turns out to be really bad. I felt that way about Paltan also. I strongly feel that Taish was an accident because I’ve been feeling strongly about doing good work for many years but 90% of it has gone really bad, so I’m extremely capable of doing bad work and very bad acting. With Taish, something between Bejoy (Nambiar) sir and me just aligned in a way that people resonated with. So, it must have been some sort of luck and a very pleasant accident.