'In the first lockdown, my mother used to feed me everything possible.'
'After all, she is an Indian mother.'
'Sometimes laddoos, sometimes parathas.'
'I gained almost 10 kg.'
'When Maharani fell into my lap, the weight was a perfect match for the character.'
Sohum Shah, best known for his brilliant performance in the horror film Tumbbad, gets ready for Bihar politics in Subhash Kapoor's Maharani, which streams on SonyLiv from May 28.
The actor plays a politician and stars opposite Huma Qureshi.
Do Sohum and Huma play Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi?
Sohum clarifies to Rediff.com Contributor Prateek Sur, "The politics in our country is so popular that whenever there is some character like this, people tend to find correlation to a real-life person. But there is nothing in em>Maharani like that."
Did you shoot Maharani during the pandemic?
Yes, we shot it between the first and second lockdown.
How has the shooting been different in this new normal?
It is a bit difficult, but you have to work at the end of the day.
We used to take extra protection.
We used to wear masks all the time.
The production took care of whatever safety protections had to be taken.
It was sort of like a bio-bubble. We did not go out anywhere.
We stayed together as one unit.
If anything happened, the entire shoot would have gone haywire.
It is very difficult right to shoot now. Plus, a Web series has so many characters. If anything happens to any actor, the entire shoot goes for a toss.
You have gained weight for the role.
I credit that entirely to my mom and her love.
In the entire first lockdown, she used to feed me everything possible. After all, she is an Indian mother.
Sometimes laddoos, sometimes parathas.
I gained almost 10 kg.
After the lockdown, when I decided to come back to Mumbai and search for new projects, Maharani fell into my lap. The weight was a perfect match for the character.
There are stories saying that the characters played by Huma Qureshi and you are modeled on the lives of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi. How true is this?
This is entirely untrue.
The politics in our country is so popular that whenever there is some character like this, people tend to find correlation to a real-life person.
But there is nothing in Maharani like that.
These two characters are neither based on their life nor inspired by their life.
The only similarity is that they are Bihari politicians, that's it.
How much are you into politics?
In our country, every person is connected to politics.
Politics, cricket and movies -- people are most aware of these three things.
There are reports that you are doing a 10-part horror anthology.
It is a very interesting anthology.
There are 10 different stories based on horror and the lockdown.
We have already shot three of them, and then the lockdown happened.
These are stories from different states in India.
One is a Bengali film, one is a Bihari film...
What about Tumbbad 2?
(Laughs) Yes, we are still looking for a great story for Tumbbad 2.
There were many ideas but to convert that one idea into a screenplay, takes the life out of you.
There were two-three ideas on which we worked upon, but it was not coming out so well.
But we will make it for sure.
It's not something that we thought of today or after the success of Tumbbad.
It has been in motion ever since we were making the film.
That world is so rich and there are so many characters that can be developed in there, that sequels or prequels can definitely come out of it.
But we have yet not been able to crack the story.
When a film like Tumbbad gets critical acclaim from all over the world but doesn't get that recognition from the Indian audience, does it make you feel that Indian audiences are yet not ready for such good cinema?
No, I don't feel that way.
Indian audiences have given Tumbbad a lot of love.
In a film, a lot of things come together to make the project successful.
In our film, the actors were new, the director was new, the production house was new...
Still, Tumbbad has received its fair share of love and success. Especially after the influx of the OTT platforms, people have watched it numerous times.
The reach of the film has increased manifolds.
I don't agree with the fact that we have not received enough love in India. Our audiences are equally intelligent.
You've been in the film industry for over a decade. Do you think you've gotten your due as an actor?
I feel I have been very lucky.
Destiny has always been on my side.
I have been here for over 10 years now with absolutely no background in the film industry.
In my family, there is no one remotely connected to films.
I had come from a place where even if 50 km away there was a film shoot happening, we used to go and watch it. So it is like a dream for me.
I have made five-six films.
I have produced two films, which have been loved by people.
I have worked with Irrfan Khan.
I don't think I could have asked for anything more than this.
Expecting anything more than this would be like what was said in Tumbbad, that you become very greedy and I don't want to be that.
I think I have got my fair share.
What will we see you in next?
I have a show on Amazon Prime with Reema Kagti called Fallen, which has Sonakshi Sinha and Vijay Varma too.
I am also doing a silent film which should start very soon.