Rasika Dugal: I don’t judge the characters I play
With as many as four projects — web series Mirzapur 2 and A Suitable Boy, and films Lootcase and Darban — that released last year, Rasika Dugal had a fantastic 2020 to say the least. And not just 2020, the much-in-demand actor has had a great career run in the last two years, especially after the globally acclaimed web show Delhi Crime, which recently won an International Emmy Award. Other than juggling films and web shows, Dugal also shot and directed a short film Banana Bread with her husband-actor Mukul Chadda. With season seasons of her shows Out of Love and Delhi Crime lined up this year, the 32-year-old shares there might be more of her than expected in 2021. Excerpts from an interview:
With online content giving a platform to actors, writers and technicians, do you think it has also led to more nuanced writing for female characters?
The digital space has given opportunities to newness and pushed the boundaries for storytelling and has actively broken the formula. Writing is finally getting the attention it needed, and that means more nuanced roles for women. The long form format allows for a true ensemble. In a series, multiple tracks can coexist and they all can be well etched out. The luxury of time has done worked for female parts and how they are written.
The last two years have propelled your career into another league with shows like Delhi Crime, Out of Love, Mirzapur series. How do you look at this progression?
There has been an abundance of work and I couldn’t be more grateful. What I truly value is the quality and the variety that has come my way. With Lootcase, A Suitable Boy and Mirzapur 2, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most talented creators, explore different genres including comedy, drama and crime-drama, and experience being people as different as Lata, Savita and Beena. Aur kya chahiye!
Due to all the success, is there any kind of pressure vis-a-vis expectations?
This line of work can only be fun if you make fearless decisions, which allow you to experiment. I want to do a project for the work and the experience it gives me as an actor rather than where it takes my career or what people think of it. It’s heartwarming when your work resonates with people, but I’m pretty oblivious of expectations, if any. I try to stay true to meeting my own expectations as a performer. I expect myself to constantly try different things, be as immersed as possible in the story that I’m a part of, stay as connected with the person/character I’m playing in that story and genuinely, be there for my co-actors on shoot.
The OTT space has exploded and how. What are your views on the rise of content being churned out for the web?
The streaming services have opened opportunities for so much talent. Good writing is finally being valued and nurtured, and storytelling has pushed the boundaries and moved away from formula. Even after a few years of growing popularity, I’m delighted to see that there’s room for a variety of genres. It has been a great few years for content on the web, and I hope the growing number of viewers encourage content creators to the push the envelope even further and not settle into comfortable mediocrity.
Looking back, which role changed the way makers and creators looked at you?
Beena Tripathi in Mirzapur. I don’t think anyone had imagined me in a part like that. People usually tend to cast actors according to their physicality or a previous perception of the actor. Casting me as Beena was atypical casting. If the casting directors and the creators of Mirzapur — Karan Anshuman, Puneet Krishna and Gurmmeet Singh, hadn’t thought out of the box and shown so much confidence in my abilities, Mirzapur wouldn’t have happened for me. The part prompted me to have a physicality that’s different from my default one. And, I think, made people look at me differently.
How do you go about when you have to use cuss words on screen? Do you fear being judged by the audiences?
I’m an actor, and if I’m asked to do something, which is important to telling that story and I’m convinced of it , I’ll find my comfort with it. Also, I don’t judge the characters I play, so I’m not worried about people judging either the character or me. Besides , I feel, a good performance will resonate with people and they will move beyond judgement.
With Out of Love 2, Delhi Crime 2 lined up this year, what are you expecting from 2021?
If there’s anything I’ve learnt about this line of work, it’s the fact that it’ll never turn out be like you had expected. So, nothing might turn out the way it looks like it’ll today. But, as of now, I’m looking forward to reprising my roles for season three of some of the shows I’m a part of while also getting ready to sink my teeth into some new ones. So far, it’s looking like 2021 is going to be an interesting mix of subsequent seasons and new work. But who knows!