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'Mirzapur prompted creators to imagine me differently'

July 18, 2023 09:44 IST
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'Everyone's favourite show Mirzapur is returning with a third season in which I am reprising my role as Beena Tripathi.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Rasika Dugal/Instagram

Rasika Dugal may have made a name for herself after Mirzapur and Delhi Crime, but she's had her share of ups and downs.

The actor, who gets easily spooked, wowed everyone with her performance once again in the supernatural thriller Adhura.

"I never had a timeline to reach somewhere neither did I have a destination in mind," Rasika tells Subhash K Jha, adding, "I guess with this profession you really can't have one."

Such a long journey for you. I have watched you evolve and it is impressive. How do you assess your career so far?

Thank you! Your messages after you have watched my work have always been something I have looked forward to.

I like, enjoy and feel proud of the mixed bag my career has been.

Most importantly, it has been a lot of fun.

I have had the opportunity to experiment with different genres, to play impactful roles in an ensemble cast, to headline some projects and to work with some of the best actors in our country.


IMAGE: Rasika Dugal in Delhi Crime.

Do you think it is important to work with like-minded artistes?

I think meaningful creative collaborations are such special experiences, and with Qissa, Manto, Mirzapur and Delhi Crime, I have had many such.

There are days when I sit back and feel, 'Wow, all this really worked out.'

Of course, there are days when I feel, 'There is a long long way to go.'

Would you say the journey has been difficult?

It has been a rollercoaster ride with so many ups and downs.

It's been very interesting to experience my ever-changing relationship with uncertainty, rejection, failure and success.

I know now that they are all here to stay in varying degrees in different times and all have to be treated as fellow travellers on a long journey.

What I have enjoyed the most is my relationship with my work.

I don't think I have ever felt more connected to anything else in my life.

IMAGE: Tilotama Shome and Rasika Dugal in Qissa.

What would you say was the turning point in your career?

It is difficult to identify one turning point, but I have tried to identify the few that were turning points in different ways.

My turning point as a performer was with a film called Qissa.

I got an opportunity to work with talented, committed and caring co-actors like Irrfan, Tisca (Chopra) and Tillotama (Shome).

Also, with a sensitive director like Anup Singh, who could create an environment for a performer to thrive in and explore possibilities that you never thought existed within you.

The other turning point?

With Manto, it was a coming together of my love for progressive writers and that time in history with my love for cinema. That role was so special.

Also, I hadn't had work for a while and Manto kind of put me on the map.

I will always be grateful to Nandita Das for fighting many battles to cast me as Safia.

There's one more.

IMAGE: Rasika Dugal and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Manto.

And that is?

With Mirzapur, I had the opportunity to play a part which was dramatically different from me and from the parts I had done before.

It helped me showcase my range as an actor and prompted creators to imagine me differently.

It also gave me the opportunity to reach a wider audience and to experience the joy of being a part of something that has a huge following.

Why do you think success took so long to happen?

I never had a timeline to reach somewhere neither did I have a destination in mind. I guess with this profession you really can't have one.

Things evolve and change so quickly that, in my opinion, it would be counterproductive to be stuck to one idea of where you see yourself going.

Also, I don't think I can claim to be 'successful'. Honestly, this is not false modesty.

I believe life is always a work in progress and every actor's journey is unique.

That is the most beautiful and the most terrifying thing about it. You get to carve your own path, but you are often befuddled by the lack of precedence or help while you are on it.

While today I might often be in a position to be able to choose from a few offers for work -- after all, there were so many years where there would only be one offer at best -- I do find the decision-making process daunting.

The challenges might have changed a little, but are still very much there.

Today, I find myself treading the lines between instinct and strategy.

Between wanting to maintain and better what I have while realising that to truly experiment, I have to be ready to let go of that. So yes, this wonderous journey continues.

IMAGE: Rasika Dugal in Adhura.

Do you see the OTT as a blessing for talented actors like you?

Absolutely! I feel lucky to be an actor in times like this.

Personally, my work in the streaming space has helped me access and connect with a wide audience.

Even though the films I had done before had been beautiful experiences, they were largely independent films which would invariably get stuck in the distribution bottleneck.

I feel the streaming space has so far been largely democratic and has opened up opportunities for much newness... in terms of genres, story ideas, actors, directors, writers...

Also, what is interesting, is that the long form format of a series allows for a true ensemble.

Multiple tracks can coexist and multiple characters have an opportunity to be well etched out.

I think this luxury of time in a screenplay has done huge service to the number of interesting parts for women and to how they are written.

What made you accept the offer to do Adhura? Do you believe in ghosts?

I think primarily it was the excitement to experiment with a genre I had never explored before. And a genre that I have not watched at all!

I am very easily spooked.

I guess that comes because of a feeling that there are forces around you that you might not entirely comprehend or have any control over.

So yes, I do believe that there are things around us that we might not know of, but I don't know if that necessarily makes me a believer in ghosts.

IMAGE: Rasika Dugal and Khulbhushan Kharbanda in Mirzapur.

What are your forthcoming projects?

My forthcoming projects are going to be an interesting mix, I think.

The year gone by has been about experimenting with new genres, working with relatively new filmmakers and learning new skills for work, like learning how to play volleyball, learning how to play the piano...

There is a sports drama series Spike where I play a volleyball coach.

Lord Curzon Ki Haveli is a black comedy thriller. Fairy Folk is an improvised film and Little Thomas is a dramedy.

Everyone's favourite show Mirzapur is returning with a third season in which I am reprising my role as Beena Tripathi.

Delhi Crime has been greenlit for a third season and I am looking forward to being Neeti Singh again.

I am shooting for a new show with Applause Entertainment, which is being directed by Rohan Sippy.

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