Interview Hindi

My character, Kiran Sekhon, has many shades, says Your Honor actress Mita Vashisht


The artiste opened up about the show, the challenge of playing a cop and working with director Eeshwar Niwas.

Suyog Zore

It has been three decades since actress Mita Vashisht made her debut in the Hindi film industry,  A graduate from the National School of Drama (NSD) who worked with auteurs like Govind Nihalani, Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani, she starred in her maiden OTT project last year, the SonyLIV web-series Your Honor, an Indian adaptation of the Israeli series Kvodo.

The show revolves around a sessions court judge (Jimmy Sheirgill), who is trying to save his son, who gets involved in a hit-and-run case. In it, Vashisht plays a tough and honest police officer, Kiran Sekhon, who will go to any length to uncover the truth. The actress, who received a lot of appreciation for her performance, has reprised the role, for the second season, which was released on 19 November.

The actress opened up to Cinestaan about the show, the challenge of playing a cop and working with director Eeshwar Niwas.

Excerpt:

In the first season, you had a very prominent role. After Sheirgill, yours was the second most important character. How important is your character in this season? 

Yes, I had a very prominent role in the first season. But in this season there are three or four new entrants and it's no longer about Kiran Sekhon vs judge Khosla. There are a few more players. So in a way, it will not be as prominent as it was in the first season.

But at the same time, Kiran Sekhon is very important for the life of this show so there are a few interesting scenes of character development that you will see in the next few episodes. But it's is true that this time my character might not play as important a role in moving the story forward as she did in the last season.

Why did you choose this role?

First of all, I had never played a police inspector in any of my projects before. Also, this character has so many shades. Especially in the first season, she showed how important her character is for this series. It has everything. She is a single mother, but a strict and intelligent police officer who is also aware that she will always face problems in this patriarchal police department but that doesn't stop her from trying to find the truth. This is the kind of character, any actor would like to play.

Mita Vashisht in Your Honor (Season 1)

Did you watch the original Israeli show? How different is your character from the original one?

Yes, although some incidents are the same, the way they have been presented here is completely different. In Israel, women and men are quite equal because they all have to compulsorily do military service for three years. So both males and females are treated equally there. But that's not the case here in India. So I had to take that into consideration while playing this character and mould it according to our culture. So my character is quite different from the character of the original Israeli show.

When you shot for the first season there was no COVID, but this one went on the floors during the pandemic. What was that experience like?

I have been shooting since last year August. I completed two feature films and Criminal Justice (Season 2) during the pandemic. So by the time I began shooting for Your Honor (Season 2), I had already gotten used to the whole shooting process during COVID. So it wasn't much of an issue for me.

You play a policewoman and a single mother who, apart from investigating the case at hand, deals with everyday struggles such as navigating the patriarchy in a police department. What was the most challenging aspect of this role for you?

The most challenging aspect was playing a person who has certain authority but is also vulnerable in the social structure. After all, Kiran Sekhon is just one of many police officers. Although she has some authority because of being in the police, she is at the lower end of the spectrum in the whole police department hierarchy. And she is also aware that her authority will be always be challenged by someone who is more influential like gangsters, or even a judge like Khosla.

Kiran Sekhon is a very difficult role because she has to always walk the tightrope of doing her duty but at the same time never stepping over the line. She knows that she is not Kiran Bedi, she is at the bottom level in the police hierarchy. So this character had a lot of different shades and that's what I liked about her the most. 

When you have to come back and play the character again after a gap of a few months or a year, how difficult it is to get into that character's mindset again?

 Sometimes you need to watch old episodes again to make sure that you are getting the body language of the character right, like how she sits, how she interacts with her seniors and juniors. You have to also understand the character's journey and see how much the character has evolved from the first episode to now to get into her mindset again. Because in the end, it's a completely different person with different personality traits so you can't just jump in without any preparation, especially for a complicated character like Kiran.

The director of this show, Eeshwar Niwas, is known for doing romantic comedy films. Except for the action crime drama Shool (1999), he has never directed anything like this. Weren't you apprehensive when he approached you with this project?

Not at all. The script was good, the production was good, so I said yes. I had also done an ad with Niwas sir many many years ago, so in a way, I was familiar with his style. I have worked with many directors, and my mantra is 'just focus on your work and let others do their job'.

I know  Niwas personally, he is a very quiet and introverted kind of guy. But he is very talented. Also, we had done a lot of readings before the shoot. As an actor, you can't focus on other factors because then you will always be distracted. Obviously, it's a completely different topic, when the director doesn't even know what he is doing.  Niwas was definitely not like that. He is a very passionate guy who loves his work so I knew that he won't make any compromise on the quality of the show.

In the last two years, OTT platforms have become quite mainstream, and even big actors are now doing web-series. What are your views on the meteoric rise of OTT?

I just hope that OTT doesn't get starstruck and repetitive like television. When TV was introduced in India, it used to tell different and unique stories. If you watch those old shows, you will realize that every show had a different style of writing and acting. But after the introduction of daily soaps, everything becomes monotonous. Every soap looks the same and tells the same story. 

Now OTT is telling very unique stories and it should continue to do that. We should try to tell stories that were never shown in the mainstream media before.

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