EXCLUSIVE: Betaal actor Suchitra Pillai on shooting in the real jungle among scorpions and Shah Rukh Khan

In an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla, Betaal actor Suchitra Pillai opened up on what intrigued her to the role, shooting in real locations, being blown away by Shah Rukh Khan's humility. Read.
EXCLUSIVE: Betaal actor Suchitra Pillai on shooting in the real jungle among scorpions and Shah Rukh KhanEXCLUSIVE: Betaal actor Suchitra Pillai on shooting in the real jungle among scorpions and Shah Rukh Khan
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Netflix is back with another original series titled Betaal which stars Suchitra Pillai, Viineet Kumar, Aahana Kumra, among others. The series released today and has been co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment, Blumhouse Television, and SK Global Entertainment. In an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla, Suchitra opened up on what intrigued her to the role, shooting in real locations, being blown away by Shah Rukh Khan's humility. Over to her. 

When we saw the trailer and the small clip shown to us, Tyagi looks like a well-defined character. What made you say yes to the show?

My character is one of a kind. Which actor wouldn't want to play such a character when it is offered to you. I was one of the actors who was tested for it. The first time they gave me the first few scenes while they were testing, what intrigued me the most was this character is so bindass, straight in your face Tyagi. You cannot NOT notice her. It is such a kick for any actor to play a character knowing that the story won't move forward if this character is not there in it. And, that's what you need, even if it is a 5 mins character, as long as you know it is pivotal to the story, that is all it takes to say yes. It is very different from what I have done in my 26 years career. 

You have always managed to pick up intriguing characters. Was it difficult to break the norm and not follow the line which is usually expected in the industry?

Frankly speaking I have not fallen in line with the other part of the industry which is why I  am only where I am today. But, I appreciate the fact that people give me roles which they know I will do justice to. Whether it is one scene or 5 mins role, whether it is slapping a Saif Ali Khan in Dil Chahata Hai or one confrontation with Priyanka Chopra. If you are given that opportunity to show your prowess as an actor, that is what you know. In Betaal, Tyagi's character, she is a commanding officer, I have never done such a character before. To play someone who everybody looks up to. Tyagi is not all bad, you really appreciate the work she does, how she does it. You don't think bad of her that way. She is negative but not negative enough for people wanting to love to hate her. 

The series has a political statement in subtext. Do you think with web coming in, filmmakers and artists have found more strength in them to take risks which otherwise would have been difficult?

Most definitely. That is what has made the web interesting. Firstly, there is a lot more work for actors, a lot more work for directors and storyteller who want to tell their stories, what they show on screen, take a risk. For the most part, the web has given a lot of people out of the box characters which they were perhaps not given before because of many reasons, because of censorship. People are now widening their vision. 

Does a superstar like Shah Rukh Khan supporting such projects help?

When people told me that Red Chillies and Slumhouse were the producers, I was like wow. I was like I hope I get this, to have a producer who takes care of you. It was a great experience but a tough one too, whether it was shooting outdoors in heat amongst scorpions and snakes in jungles, during the night. The things that we went through were incredible but that is what makes this journey memorable. 

What was the most difficult scene for you?

For me, a lot of the difficulty was a chasing scene where I get stuck in a tunnel. We shot in an actual tunnel where you can smell a bad odour. Running amongst actual rocks and falling down, with our full gear, shooting that scene was very difficult because I have to admit that I am not those people who go to the gym. I don't exercise. That was a tough one which is why I am so grateful for the workshop and training they gave us before. 

Did Shah Rukh Khan visit sets? Did you meet him? What did he say about your character?

He did come on sets when we were shooting in Yash Raj and he came and met us on two occasions. he was very happy with the rushes he saw. I knew Shah Rukh from before because I did Dulha Mil Gaya and also have worked with him previously. He is one of the most genuine and brilliant human beings in the industry. I am not saying this because he is Shah Rukh Khan but because he is class personified. This is the man, who during one of the times I was reading my lines and he saw me sitting in the corner and left everyone and came straight up to me and asked me how was I doing. It was a huge pleasure for doing this show for Shah Rukh in ways.

I met him at the wrap party, it was incredible. I saw him as soon as I entered and asked him what do you think, he said he loved it. He told me my character scared me. I was like 'yay'.

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