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Indian actors Manjot Singh and Varun Sharma reunited for their latest release, with director Mrigdeep Singh Lamba. Backed by Lamba, web show Chutzpah also features Tanya Manaktala in a lead role. Singh and Sharma previously worked together in Fukrey which is their first film that got them recognition and appreciation.
Speaking about their characters, Singh and Sharma insist that they are far away from their onscreen characters. “I am not like that at all in my real life. I hate video calls, I get irritated even talking over the phone. I only knew my part in the show, but that was more than enough for me to take it up. Working with Maddock Films was also a dream-come-true for me,” Singh says about taking up the project.
Sharma adds that the fact that the show involved Lamba and producer Dinesh Vijan, was enough for him to come onboard. Claiming that the subject of the show is unique, he says “Can you imagine your life without internet or your laptop? A thing that we are so used to, and is so deeply embedded in our lives, has never been the subject of a film or show! That intrigued me.”
About his character, Sharma adds, “Vikas and Varun are very different, but my motivation for Vikas was this friend of mine who is settled in the US. He is married, his wife is here in Bombay. These guys keep talking all day. They wake up, and they are on video call. They keep talking for hours. I mean there are people like Vikas and Shikha (characters on the show). I have seen it in front of my eyes, my friends they have been happily married for two years, their relationship is going well. Whenever they get a chance, he comes down to Mumbai and she goes to US. They meet, of course past few months have been tough. But I am a little different from Vikas. Varun is not Vikas.” He also clarified that he has not been in a relationship for long, neither has he had long-distance relationships.
Singh adds that he is not Rishi either. “Not at all, I am not Rishi. As Varun said, it is difficult to maintain a relationship by just talking over the phone, you need physical presence. I am the kind of person who gets irritated when someone video calls. Being with the person you love is much more important for me. Rishi is not like that, he is the opposite – he is a gadget freak.”
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He also shares the toughest part of shooting for Chutzpah. “Shooting for Chutzpah was my toughest job till now because I had no co-actor to react to. I had to imagine the reaction of co-actors, I had to emote with the camera. I had to talk to a blank screen. You cannot even improvise in such conditions, because of the lack of co-actor. It was challenging for me, to absorb that procedure first day. The first day was very draining, next day was smoother and then I was happy and content as I got used to the procedure.”
Sharma says he was excited to start the shoot but faced similar problems. “As actors, we feed off each others’ energies, there is an action, a reaction, a pause, a gap..That’s how we do it, but it was not there. It was different process, there was a lot of learning for all of us.”
(The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)