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Monday, September 21, 2020

Gopal Datt on Wakaalat From Home: I thought it was a crazy idea

Actor Gopal Datt on Amazon Prime Video's Wakaalat From Home, and challenges of shooting over Zoom calls.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi | Updated: September 11, 2020 9:08:52 am
gopal datt wakaalat from home web showWakaalat From Home has been directed by Rohan Sippy and written by Anuvab Pal. (Photo: Amazon Prime Video)

Actor Gopal Datt reveals that the idea to make Amazon Prime Video web series Wakaalat From Home came during a Zoom call he was having with director Rohan Sippy and writer Anuvab Pal. The series was shot entirely at home during the lockdown.

Wakaalat From Home is a 10-episode series that revolves around a couple whose divorce hearings take place over video calls due to the lockdown. Here, Gopal plays a divorce lawyer. The show also stars actors Sumeet Vyas, Nidhi Singh, Kubbra Sait and Akarsh Khurana.

In a candid chat with indianexpress.com, Gopal shared how the series was conceived and challenges of shooting it over Zoom calls.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Wakaalat From Home’s idea is very unique. How did the show happen?

I was part of the project right from the beginning. But the credit goes to Anuvab and Rohan who came up with this idea. Out of boredom, one day, during a Zoom call, we decided to do something creative. Anuvab had an idea which I thought was quite crazy. That’s when we decided to write a pilot episode. We thought, if it works, we’ll see how to take it forward. But it turned out to be so funny, we started thinking of the casting and all. Sumeet and Nidhi are internet’s favourite couple so we thought of getting them on board. That’s how it all happened.

You play a lawyer named Lobo Tripathi. Tell us more.

Lobo is a crazy man. He’s not a proper lawyer. He has several other businesses on the side, like he runs a restaurant too. Anuvab’s initial idea was to keep him as an old Christian lawyer from Bandra who is just not interested in people. When I read the script, I loved the character so much and I expressed my willingness to play him. That’s when he changed it to a young man.

Despite a great script, if the show is not made well, everything goes for a toss. How did you overcome technical challenges while shooting at home?

During the lockdown, everyone was bored. This show required work on all fronts, be it your own art direction, make-up, props or lighting. We used to do our set-up in various corners of our house. Luckily, because of this series, we got so busy for one month that we did not feel the lockdown was still on.

Does having friends around make things easy or difficult?

It is fun to work with friends. Like, Sumeet will never mind if I suggest him anything. We used to give honest opinions over getting the punch right. All the suggestions helped in the betterment of the show. It was a theatre environment where Rohan wanted us to do it in one-take. Sometimes, after we enacted the whole thing, we used to realise that we forgot to press the record button (laughs).

How did you get the comic timing right on a Zoom call?

It was very difficult initially. Not just timing, but there were even internet issues. Sometimes someone said the dialogue and the other one couldn’t hear it. So that lag used to come. We decided that we’ll take cues from Zoom calls and shoot on a different device or phone. We sent our portions to Rohan for editing. That’s how we got the clean footage. But this needed a lot of rehearsals. All of us were involved in this since the writing stage. We shot and showed our pilot to Amazon. Then we kept writing, reading and rehearsing. That’s how we managed the timing. Otherwise, when you don’t have the actor in front of you while acting, it gets difficult.

Also Read | Kubbra Sait on Wakaalat From Home: We worked for hours on Zoom | Sumeet Vyas: Shooting Wakaalat From Home was more complex than acting

Do you think your show will provide relief from the dark content on web?

I’m watching sitcoms now. I cannot watch dark stuff anymore. All the more, when we are living in such trying times. Our show has arrived at the right time. I hope people like it too.

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