The actor opens up about his entry into the web medium, his rapport with co-star Nitish Bharadwaj and the effect of online comments on him.
Shooting Samantar (Season 2) was a lot more difficult, says Swwapnil Joshi
Mumbai - 26 Jun 2021 12:30 IST
Swwapnil Joshi tried his hand at the web medium last year with the Marathi web-series Samantar (2020) on MX Player. The makers are now back with the second season of the series to complete the story adapted from author Suhas Shirwalkar’s book of the same name.
Joshi’s character in the show, Kumar Mahajan, is very different from his real-life persona of a sweet, happy-go-lucky person. Mahajan is mostly angry and doesn’t shy away from using foul language and even violence. The actor said shooting the second season was more challenging because he had to recreate the character after a long break.
In an exclusive conversation with Cinestaan.com, Joshi also opened up on working with a different director for the second season and his rapport with co-star Nitish Bharadwaj. Excerpts:
Going by the trailer for Samantar (Season 2), it seems there is more drama in this season.
That is because the story demanded it. After all, we are continuing the same story. There is more chaos. The decibel level of the narrative is up. And the mounting of the show is only in synch with the decibel level.
Were you more at ease while shooting the second season since you already had the experience of shooting the first one?
I think I would answer this as an exact contrary of your question. The second season was a lot more difficult because when you do anything in a linear form, you have to maintain that character. How he moves, sits, talks, walks, uses his hands, mannerisms. You have to recreate that person. But because of the huge gap in between, the recreation was very challenging. [But] it was fun.
Also, Kumar is not a character like Gautam [Joshi's character from the Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai franchise]. He is not easy-going. He is not your boy-next-door. He is a very complex, layered guy. He is angry with himself and with the world all the time. To be in that vibe all the time was not easy. And to recreate it after a gap was even more difficult. But hats off to the entire cast and crew, Sameer, Ambar [Hadap, screenwriter] and everyone who helped me build that narrative again.
This is one of my favourite books. I always felt a show should be made on it. And deep down I always felt I should play Kumar Mahajan. But at the same time, I always knew I was not him at all. I don’t abuse, beat women up, drink or smoke. That’s also not my screen image. It is also not something I can relate to. But I thought if I get a chance, I should do it to push my limits. It has been one of my most challenging and satisfying characters to play as an actor.
The first season was directed by Satish Rajwade and this one is directed by Sameer Vidwans. Was this a different experience for you?
I feel every director comes with a different energy. Sameer is an extremely intelligent and capable director. He has done wonders in the second season, just like Satish did in the first season.
Your unusual chemistry with Nitish Bharadwaj in the show has been appreciated. How was it teaming up with him?
He is a fantastic actor and a fine performer. He is also a very learned man. He has knowledge about literature and politics. He has done theatre in London for a long time. He is a very enriched man. When you converse with someone who is full of life, it’s always enriching and it rubs on to you. So, it was an amazing experience shooting with Nitish sir. I think he is a bundle of knowledge. He brought a certain degree of grace and glamour to the character, which only he could have brought.
Were you introduced to the world of Suhas Shirwalkar’s Samantar before you signed on for the show?
I have read Shirwalkar’s Samantar a lot of times. I am a big fan of his, just like many others. I always felt something should be made of Samantar. But at that time there was no OTT medium, especially in Marathi. And this story wasn’t fitting in a film because it can’t be told in two hours. It also wasn’t fitting in the genre of our television serials. But then OTT arrived in India and we felt it can be told in this medium. To play Kumar Mahajan’s character from the book is a big deal for me.
In the show, your character gets a diary through which he gets to know his future. How would you like it if something like this were to happen with you in real life?
No, I won’t. I would like it as fun. But on a serious note, I won’t like that at all. If I get to know now what would happen to me after five years, then I won’t be able to enjoy that journey.
When you had signed on for the first season of Samantar, nobody knew there would be a countrywide lockdown in the future and OTT platforms will see a phenomenal rise in India. So what excited you to try your hand at the medium at that time?
To be honest with you, I was offered three or four web-shows before Samantar. So I always knew that web is calling me. But I rejected those shows because I felt if I am going to work in the same story that I have done in films and if I have to tell the same narrative that I have told in a TV show, then what is the point of coming on OTT? If they are coming up with a new genre to explore me and the genre in a different medium of communication, then I need to justify that hunger with a script that does justice to the platform.
So when Samantar happened, me, Satish and all of us thought that this is the right forum or script to enter the digital world with. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my producers Kartik [Nishandar] and Arjun [Singgh] and MX Player who stood by us like a rock through thick and thin. MX Player has never portrayed this as a Marathi show. Even in the first season, they mounted it as a big-budget mainstream show. It was proved with Samantar that good content will always cut through timelines, linguistic barriers and regional spaces. It will transcend all these all over the world.
The reactions to the trailer for Season 2 have been positive. There are plenty of comments online praising it. Does this make you feel more excited or does it put pressure on you?
I will be very honest with you. There is pressure (laughs).