Pratik Gandhi, Rushad Rana and Kashmira Irani speak on Amazon film, Baai

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Kashmira Irani and Pratik Gandhi in Baai, one of the 6 films in the Amazon Prime Video anthology Modern Love Mumbai. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Amazon Prime Video launched their latest anthology, Modern Love Mumbai on May 13. The series has six short films of about 45 minute’s duration directed by six directors. The PR team organized on-ground interviews and requested us to choose one of the six teams to meet. We chose the team of Baai, and spoke to three actors—Pratik Scam 1992 Gandhi, Kashmira Irani and veteran Rushad Rana, who play key characters in this film.

Excerpts from a conversation follow:

Pratik, this is your second project with director Hansal Mehta after Scam 1992. That was a different world, and a long drama. This is a 40-minute film. What was the difference like for you?

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Pratik Gandhi: For me, working with Hansal-sir was like a homecoming. We share a comfortable working relationship and it was absolutely a pleasure being on sets with him after a long break.

Having worked with him and various other directors across Hindi and Gujarati movies, what, according to you, is Hansal’s USP?

Pratik: His USP is his simplicity towards life, his work and cinema. That’s a task in itself. Because less is more is what we have learnt as actors too. His approach is very organic. He lets you be and explore on sets. He is not someone who constantly says, “Do this! Do that!” He does not perform a scene and ask you to copy him. He believes in his actors.

So basically he tells you the emotion needed and leaves you to express it freely.

Pratik: Yes!

So, Kashmira and Rushad, how much would you agree with Pratik?

Kashmira: I agree. If he needs something specific after you enact the scene, he comes and tells you. He’s extremely collaborative.
Rushad: He’s absolutely so organic that you don’t feel you are performing for the camera. Hansal-sir lets actors do their thing and then he places the camera around them. It makes an actor extremely comfortable that he has so much faith in you.

So how are you three connected within the film?

Pratik: I play Manzar Ali, and my boyfriend Rajveer is played by Ranveer Brar, who plays a chef, which he also is in real life. Kashmira is my sister and Rushad her husband.

So I am talking to a family here!

Pratik: Yes, and she takes a stand in support of me and becomes a shield between my parents and me.

Kashmira: You can’t really impose a natural, pure feeling like love on anyone.  You should accept it the way it is.

We are seeing more and more of homosexual relationships on screen because of the increased openness on this subject. But how do you look at such things shown just for, perhaps, trendy sensationalism? Like I have watched two consecutive series recently, in which these bonds were not related to the plot and the story would not have been altered a whit if the relationships shown were not there?

Rushad: In our story, the gay relationship is the crux. But often, as you said, people bring such aspects in to sensationalize the project! So to each his own—it’s like adding an item number to your film!

Pratik: It’s not that these relationships never existed. So this openness also indicates that there is increasing acceptance.

Something very important here—what do you wish to say on Tanuja-ji, who plays the title-role as Baai?

Pratik: God! She’s a powerhouse! I can say that she’s the youngest of our lot!

Kashmira: On the wrap day, she just wanted to take selfies with all of us, even the entire crew! She was so kind and sweet and humble about it.

What did you all learn from her as an actor?

Pratik: What I learnt most from her—and among the three of us, I had the maximum scenes with her—is that experience counts! She might be coming on camera after a long time, but she lights up the screen! She puts life in a scene with her tiniest expression, one line, one word, and you feel that everything is coming from years of experience!

Kashmira: And when Pratik and she were both in the scene, I couldn’t help but watch them. And then I realize, Oh, I too am on the screen! It’s so magical to just watch such fine actors do a scene in front of you! And you too become a part of all that, and that’s the power of a very good actor.

Rushad: I never had a direct scene with her, so I observed whatever I could of her as part of the background in the sequence where all of us were there. After that, I was amazed that she recognized me and that was like a big trophy for me! And that shows what a humble person she is, and we don’t often meet people who acknowledge talent that is lesser-known than you!

Pratik, where would you like to go now?

Pratik: I would like to be in a place where I can create multiple characters with no inhibitions. I don’t want to put in a cage. I have waited for this phase for 16-17 years.

Kashmira, what about you?

Kashmira: The medium really does not matter—TV, theater or films. I just want to do good roles.

Rushad, you have been around for a long while and it is impossible to straitjacket you in the varied roles you have done. Do you think that that one big hit has eluded you?

Of course, but more than that, I took a couple of wrong decisions many years ago. I over-depended on two films I had signed that were very promising but did not even get a proper release. And I lost three years of television while they were being made! Thankfully, I have been able to pick up the pieces!

But somehow, only roles of rich NRIs or businessmen come to me and I want to break those images. And I seriously do not know how to, whether I should grow my hair, grow a beard, or what!

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