Bipasha Basu is tired of being asked why she hasn’t been seen on screen for a while. But after a 5-year hiatus from acting, which she took to spend more time with family, Bipasha’s ready to work again. She returns with Dangerous, a web series for MX Player in which she stars across her husband Karan Singh Grover. The thriller follows the investigation into the disappearance of a successful businessman’s (Karan Singh Grover) wife. Bipasha Basu plays the officer brought in to investigate him, but things get murky when she realises that the man she’s supposed to investigate is a former lover.
From writer Vikram Bhatt, the project was initially shot as a film titled Aadat Diaries which has since been repurposed as a web series. The last time the husband-wife pair worked together was in the 2015 horror film Alone (also Basu’s last on-screen outing). It’s during that project that two reportedly first met, and got married the following year. Over separate phone calls, the two actors spoke about their new show, working together again and the discomfort of shooting intimate scenes.
You’ve said that the two of you have received a number of offers over the years to act together, but they weren’t very appealing. Why did this feel like the right project to work together again?
Bipasha: Well honestly, Karan was signed on for this project before me. I was asked to meet for a narration, but I was trying to avoid it because I was in a very blissful space where I wasn’t taking any work. But Vikram (Bhatt), who’s a dear friend, asked me to hear it out and I loved the part and I told Karan that I definitely want to do this. That is how I came on board.
Karan: I signed on to this project before Bipasha but if it was up to me I wouldn’t have wanted to work with her because I didn’t think she would have been able to tolerate me at home and at work. But she said yes because it was a great role.
Bipasha, we haven’t seen you on screen for a long time. You’ve said it’s because you wanted to take a break from acting but you’ve also said producers of certain franchises ‘weren’t keen on taking repeat actresses’. So was there lesser to choose from?
Bipasha: Well, not really. Honestly, I was not even open to taking meetings or reading scripts. I started acting from the age of 19 and I’ve been working pretty much 365 days a year since. If I was not shooting, then I had events or performances or endorsements. So I really think that this time was very important to me as a human being to build a strong foundation for my relationships. I got to spend a lot of time with my sisters and my parents which was very important to me. So I don’t regret not working for the past two years. But now I’m excited because I am doing a project after a very long time and after this there will definitely be much more work, now that I’m open to working again.
When you decided to take this break, were there people from the industry who told you it was a bad idea?
Bipasha: Oh yes. I get it all the time. Whenever I’d meet people at functions I’d get those questions. Once even Mr Bachchan asked me where I was and why I wasn’t doing any projects and then he looked at Karan. Karan laughed and said that it was completely my call. I don’t know why it is difficult for people to understand that it is fine for human beings to take a break from their work when they’ve worked all their lives.
Dangerous appears to be an erotic thriller and there are multiple shows that release in that space on OTT platforms. What do you think is the key to standing out from the crowd?
Bipasha: I don’t think it’s an erotic thriller. I think it has as much sex as is required in the storytelling. We don’t call every International show on Netflix an erotic thriller just because they have a lot of sex. For me, it’s a thriller. One lovemaking scene doesn’t make it erotica.
Karan: Bipasha as a person and an actor stand out no matter what. Plus, both of us are coming together for a show written by Vikram Bhatt. So there are multiple reasons why it stands out.
In terms of the shooting intimate scenes, many actors have talked about how it tends to be very mechanical and stressful. Is it easier when you’re shooting those scenes with your spouse?
Bipasha: Absolutely. Also it’s become a regular thing now in films and series. But a few years ago, even a kiss used to be scary. I remember in Bachna Ae Haseeno, when I had to kiss Ranbir (Kapoor), I tried my best to tell Aditya Chopra to substitute it with a lovemaking scene because for those, there are tricks that can be used to manipulate the audience. But that didn’t happen. So yes, we have had a lot of discomfort and it’s been very difficult. Doing a Jism with John (Abraham) wasn’t very difficult for me because it was with my then-boyfriend. But I know I would have died if it was some stranger.
Karan: Yes, definitely. But it’s still a very uncomfortable space. I think it takes a lot to do those scenes. You have to give a performance in a way that is believable. So whether it’s your spouse or another actor, it’s never not uncomfortable. It’s always the same.
But is there a downside to being cast alongside your spouse because the entire conversation becomes about casting the two of you together, rather than the project itself?
Bipasha: Somebody asked me earlier if it puts pressure on us as a couple but the fact is that I never signed on this project as a couple. It just so happened that my husband is my co-star. But I don’t carry the baggage of being a couple in a film. That might be a good talking point or story to sell but that’s not my concern as an actor.
Karan: No. I don’t think it’s that frustrating. If you talk about me and her or if you talk about the story or you talk about the script, as long as people are talking about the show, I’m absolutely fine.