It’s a busy time for actors Rasika Dugal (Mirzapur, Delhi Crime) and Ahsaas Channa (Kota Factory, Hostel Daze, Girls Hostel), both have been shooting the new seasons of their respective shows over the last few months. On our new show Creators Crossing, where we contrast the journeys of different artists and creators, the two actors discussed their processes of reprising a character and their experiences of battling typecasting.
You’ve both been busy shooting season 2 of you respective shows. Rasika you had Mirzapur 2 last year and you’ve also been shooting the Out of Love season 2. Ahsaas, you have Girl’s Hostel season 2 this month and you’ve also been busy shooting the second season of Kota Factory. For both of you, what’s the key to getting back into the skin of your character after a long gap? Do you re-watch episodes of season 1, or does it all just come back naturally on set?
Rasika: I actually consciously try and forget what I know. I really feel it’s difficult to reprise a character after you have watched it as opposed to you being it. And after you have heard everything people have to say about the part, between the reviews and feedback from friends and family, there’s so much more information than you actually need. So, that was the challenge for me. I’ve never revisited a part before, this was the first time, but I think it turned out very interestingly, because I always say it’s like I’m meeting an old friend. Because you kind of know this person but this person has changed a little bit since, but somewhere their basic wiring is the same. That’s what I felt when I met Beena Tripathi in Mirzapur 2.
Ahsaas: I think my way is completely different. I definitely watch the first season because there’s been such a long gap between the seasons unfortunately. So, I had to go back and watch because I completely forgot how my characters in Girls Hostel and Kota Factory were. But with Girls Hostel the lucky part was that my character and I are very similar. But definitely for Kota Factory, Shivangi is very different from me so I had to go back to the first season. I’ve also changed my voice a little bit for that role, so I also have to go back and see how I did that and how I talk and behave.
Rasika, you really get the sense that you’ve got to the point where filmmakers are looking at you in very different ways. Especially last year, we saw you in such different projects playing very different characters. Was it tough getting to this point where you weren’t put in a box and perceived in only a specific way?
Rasika: I didn’t really concern myself with that kind of stuff throughout my career because I always believed that scripts are different, stories are different and no matter what you do, you will be playing a different part even though there might be one box in which you can roughly put this character in. But the life that you will be trying to immerse yourself in will be a different one. So, I never thought that I was typecast in the first place. However, Mirzapur happened and it was a very different physicality and physical presence for me. I was just so excited to try and be this person who is quite wicked and is like a masterclass in manipulation. Also, she’s somebody who wears her sexuality on her sleeve. But I still feel like suppose you take Safiya in Manto and Savita in A Suitable Boy, they might be similar and probably dressed in a similar way but they’re completely different people.
Ahsaas, in terms of how you’re perceived, you’ve talked about certain sections of the audience who’ve seen you as a child actor have reacted very strangely now that you are all grown up and playing these bold, outspoken characters, they react badly to it. Does that still happen?
Ahsaas: Yeah, it does. There have been people like that, and I don’t think it’s their fault because I completely get it. They’ve seen me in My Friend Ganesha as an 8-year-old with spikes and glasses and now they see me abusing on screen being all badass. So, for some it does come as a surprise. People have come up to me and said “This is too different, we can’t see you like this, it upsets me how different you are right now”. And I completely get that but it’s fun at the same time, I think I also take that as a compliment because I have been able to portray myself like that and do such roles.
And does having the tag of ‘digital star’ mean a lot of the roles you get offered tend to be in a similar space?
Ahsaas: It’s debatable, to be very honest. Because my characters in Hostel Daze, Kota Factory and Girls Hostel have been very different, but again I’ve not done something completely different. All these are girl-next-door roles. So, I do feel getting projects gets a little difficult because when people from casting look at you, they have this image of you and they don’t approach you for different kinds of roles. But I’m trying my best to break that. For now, I’m just going with the flow and doing everything that I get.