Brown, directed by Abhinay Deo and starring Karisma Kapoor, is a crime drama series and sees Kapoor in a role unlike anything she played in her years as a film heroine. As Rita Brown, Kapoor will be seen as an investigator who is grappling with alcoholism and has been assigned the task of catching a serial killer. Brown was reportedly the only Indian web show to be part of the Berlinale Series Market Selects 2023.
In an interview with Film Companion, Kapoor discussed her process of working on a character she described as “raw and real”, and about the roles she’s played so far.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
What appealed to you about your role in Brown?
It's not the usual heroine character. It was very different and unusual to play on screen. Here there was this woman who is very raw and real, who's been through different kinds of emotions. She's beat up, she's been through so much. Of course, it's a crime drama but it's also about her journey and her growth as a person. I think that's why I found it really interesting.
Can you tell me about the homework you did for the role?
Just to understand her character, I was not doing things that I would normally do in real life. But here I was doing things that were very out of the ordinary. Whether it was prepping for speaking Bengali or prepping…she does drink alcohol, she has certain issues, whether it was learning to roll cigarettes — it was very challenging and exciting to play a role of this kind.
Is there any aspect of Rita’s journey that resonated with you
If I may say so, just her being a strong woman, being someone who doesn't give up. Being someone who's like, “Okay, I've been through this, but I'm going to come out of it or I'm going to step up.” That's something I think all women anywhere in the world would resonate with, “Oh my God! She's a tough one.” I think that's the thing. She's a strong woman.
What do you think it means to be a strong woman?
I can't define it in one word. You can't define it, right? Being strong for different people may mean different things. So we can't demarcate it or point at it. Wanting to work out regularly could mean strength for someone. Or dealing with general life issues could be strength for someone. Even for me, I can't really pinpoint it. I think about just moving forward and being positive about everything.
Rita Brown is not a glamorous character.
I have done roles which have been stripped of glitz and glamour before. Be it a film like Fiza (2000), Zubeidaa (2001) or Shakti: The Power (2002). But I just feel after a long time…she's very raw and real. You see her at a human level of what she's going through. Whether it's the pace of her, the way she is right now in life, small-small details that have gone into playing Rita Brown, into just being this person was very interesting.
What was it like to work with this cast and crew?
Absolutely wonderful. … It's not like a movie, in two hours everything is done. In a web show, especially when you are playing a very in-depth character, you need to know what's happening. You need to be extra involved because you might be doing a scene from episode five in a day or episode two or episode eight. So you need to be on the ball, which is very interesting for me as an actor because working in [a] web [series] is very different from doing a movie. It was an extremely focused team and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
What do you think are the differences in the stories we tell now as compared to when you started out?
I was very young. I was 16-17 years old. I don't think we can really compare that. But I always say that in every era, in every generation, in every decade there are interesting stories to tell. India does have a lot of interesting stories, it has a lot of talent out there. Even now the kind of stories that are being written, definitely because of the digital space there are more stories to tell. Right from Mother India (1957), right from that time to my generation, like I said a Fiza (2000) or a Zubeidaa (2001). At that time it would be called doing alternate cinema, doing an art movie. But today it's called playing a 'biopic'. I've been fortunate enough to play these roles of interesting, strong women of that time as well, right down to Rita Brown. We do have interesting stories out here for women.
From all the roles you’ve played, which has been your favourite?
I can't choose. Because in those days, it was a very different time. And each movie was a stepping stone. Today you are so easily recognized with Instagram and social media. We had to slog it out to get noticed. Every movie, be it, a hit, a blockbuster, a flop or meaningful cinema, everything contributed to my career. I enjoyed doing all my Davidji (David Dhawan) movies as much as I enjoyed working with Yashji (Yash Chopra) and Shyamji (Shyam Benegal). It was a different time and I would say each movie was special.