EXCLUSIVE: Abhishek Banerjee on Paatal Lok, Anushka Sharma's advice to him, equation with Jaideep Alhawat
If there is one web show which has been grabbing everyone's attention, it is Anushka Sharma backed Paatal Lok which premiered on Amazon Prime. The show headlined by Jaideep Alhawat, Abhishek Banerjee, Neeraj Kabi, Gul Panag among others has received a lot of appreciation and love by the audience, amid lockdown. We reached out to Abhishek who played the serial killer Hatoda Tyagi in the series wherein he exclusively told us his equation with Jaideep, Anushka's advice to him, and more.
Did you get shocked when you were approached to play Hatoda Tyagi?
I was surprised. I remember Karnesh Sir calling me and telling me that this is the idea and they wanted me to consider this role of Hatoda Tyagi and I was shocked because you generally don't focus on a character you personally don't resonate with much. So it was shocking but also a meaty opportunity for any actor to explore a different horizon.
Playing Hathoda Tyagi was a challenge. Was it difficult to get into the skin of the character? He is not entirely evil, he seems like a lost cause when dug deeper.
Initially, it was very difficult. I was looking at the rage, anger of the character as the focal point. I was not getting him initially. Then I did a workshop and we tried understanding his back story and then suddenly I found a connection when I knew this character was good at shot put. That is one sport which even I was good at. Then one day I was thinking about the scene, where he spots the dog, that scene completely changed my thought process about Tyagi. I dug in deep and understood the compassion in that person and I felt the pain of rejection that character feels. He doesn't relate to human beings, he had so much angst. He saw his father as a loser, so he never had anybody he could look up to, and then he finds a mentor in Masterji. The reason why he is so spiritually connected to him.
Tyagi's body language seems to be so difficult to get. How much time did it take for you to get it right? What was your process like?
His body language is all about grieving. He is very disinterested in whatever is happening around him, he is a tired person. He doesn't follow orders except that from Masterji. To find that was very tough. I would not deny that. To just be there and not do anything was very difficult. Between action and cut, it was all meditation. There were times when even after the cut I was in meditation state and slowly come out of it. I would take my own time. I took a lot of time to set up my scene, stay in jail just to be able to pull it off.
Jaideep and you are receiving so much love. How was your equation with him on sets?
Jaideep and I go way back. I have in fact learned a lot about acting from him. I watched Jaideep's short film made in FTII which a friend of mine showed me where Jaideep played a serial killer. I saw that and I was so impressed. It is very rare that actors get impressed by other actors. That was the respect I have had for him. During the shoot, he was like my elder brother. Whenever I have a doubt, I would discuss it with him among other things. There was a day when I was finding it very difficult to get tears, and he just told me to use a glycerine. It was a eureka moment for me though it was the most basic thing to do it. But, it taught me a bigger lesson that actor is incomplete makeup, he is incomplete without costume or accessories. They are incomplete without these accessories, alone they can't depict the required emotions.
How did Anushka Sharma react to your performance?
I think the funny part is because of my real self, it is a shocking thing to see me play Hatoda Tyagi. But, I think since I acted with Anushka in Phillauri, she had an idea of my ability. She praised a lot and she was very happy that I could do this. She wants me to do such parts, she adviced me that as an actor, she wants me to pick some good parts.
What about Virat Kohli? He seemed to be loving it, according to his social media post...
From what I know, he loved it too.
Did you have any apprehensions about the show?
Whenever we are doing a show like this. When it got finished, I had two things that either people will enjoy this or will discard it because the show is a little slow-paced. There is no hurry in Pataal Lok. We were worried if the audience will have that kind of patience. The best part is people have called and told me that they loved the show.