EXCLUSIVE: Pataal Lok’s Jaideep Ahlawat talks about working with Abhishek Banerjee, his showbiz journey & more
It’s been over two months since each one of us has been locked inside our house given the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in India. While staying at home hasn’t been an easy task for the people, OTT platforms turned out to be our knight in the shining armour. There has been a massive hike in OTT viewership in recent months. Interestingly, the viewers have a variety of option to choose from on the OTT platform and Anushka Sharma’s recent production Paatal Lok was the recent addition to the list.
To note, Anushka had ventured into the digital world with her production Paatal Lok featuring Jaideep Ahlawat and Abhishek Banerjee. The crime thriller series, which gruesome but entertaining, has opened to rave reviews from the audience. In fact, Jaideep, who plays the role of one of the lead characters Hathi Ram Chaudhary, has been winning a lot of appreciation for his performance in Paatal Lok. And as he is basking in the success of the series, he got candid about his experience of working with Abhishek in an exclusive interview with Pinkvilla and how feels lucky to be the first choice for his role in the web series.
Excerpts from Pinkvilla's interview with Jaideep Ahlawat on Paatal Lok below
How was the experience of working in Paatal Lok?
Good. There was so much new to learn as it was a new experience and new kind of character that I was doing in Paatal Lok. It was great doing a character that came with so many emotions, relationships and of course, the length of the character also added on to the excitement.
How did you get the role of Hathi Ram Chaudhary? Were you the first choice?
So, when I got the script, I wasn’t aware if I was the first choice for the role. However, I did get to know later that the creator-cum-writer of the show Sudip Sir wanted to rope me since the beginning and that I was the first choice for the role of Hathi Ram Chaudhary. I am lucky that everyone believed in Sudip Sir’s opinion and I got the role.
How did you prepare for the role of Hathi Ram Choudhary in Paatal Lok?
Hathi Ram has his own journey so it was very important for me to look like him. For me, matching the look of a character is very important and so was the case with Sudip Sir. So, I had to put on a lot of weight, get some belly fat for the role of a person who has been side-lined in life and is quite disheartened with everything around. So, the character required that kind of preparation. Besides, it was important to understand, who was Hathi Ram, what was his thought process, his psyche, the kind of relationships he has in his life with his wife, kids, colleagues. Interestingly, working on language was also required, however, it didn’t take much of an effort since Hathi Ram was a Haryanvi and I belong to Haryana as well.
Was there a moment where you felt like it was really difficult to pull off this role?
It happened while I was reading the script. I get the script 1-2 months before we begin the shoot, so I prefer reading it over and over to understand the character. So, while I was reading the script, I felt like there were scenes which might be difficult to pull off. But I think, when you have a good team, they make everything quite easy for you.
How was your experience working with Abhishek Banerjee?
It was great. We know each other for a long time. In fact, when I had come to Mumbai, he was working as an assistant to Gautam Kishanchandani. This was way back in 2009-2010 and it has been a great journey ever since. We have worked together several times and he has auditioned me quite a few times. So, it was great sharing the screen with him. Speaking about the onscreen chemistry, our off screen chemistry helped us in developing the required on screen chemistry, especially when both the people were honest with their respective characters. We both were dedicated to the story. So, it was great working with Abhishek, even though we didn’t get many scenes together. We had two scenes together, one in the beginning and one in the end, but they are very important in developing the story.
From playing side roles to doing pivotal roles in movies, you have come a long way in the industry in your career of over a decade, how was your journey so far?
It was great. Got a chance to work with amazing and finest directors like Priyadarshan, Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Meghna Gulzar, Vipul Shah, Dibakar Banerjee, Kamal Haasan, etc. I have worked with brilliant people, so it has been a great journey and learnt a lot from them.
What are your upcoming projects after Paatal Lok?
I am working on Khaali Peeli with Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter, a short film by Shashank Khaitan also featuring Fatima Sana Shaikh and Test With The Destiny which has been made by Drishyam Films and has even won the best screenplay award in the Tribeca Film Festival.