Rasika Dugal has been in the entertainment industry for over a decade. She has delivered performances that have left critics and the audience in awe of her talent. After acing Nutan Yadav in Made In Heaven, police officer Neeti in Delhi Crime and a Kashmiri widow Ishrat in Hamid, Dugal plays a lighter role in the second season of TVF original Humorously Yours.
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Dugal talks about her encounter with fame, her experience of working with stand-up comedians and the recognition she has got from the film fraternity after her recent work.
What drew you to Humorously Yours?
It is the only show that I have done which is light-hearted. All the other shows which I have done have been so emotionally draining. This one is really a relief for me and I am really looking forward to it. Also, to do dramatic roles is comparatively easy than doing casual roles. It is very difficult to make something like slice-of-life interesting. I don’t think many people have done the slice-of-life dramas as good as TVF has done it. TVF has done it successfully over many shows. I remember watching Permanent Roommates and being in complete awe of it. I was impressed with the scripting of it.
Humorously Yours 2 deals with Vipul’s struggle with fame. Of late, you have also received a lot of recognition for your work. How do you deal with it?
Because I am very new to fame, I am yet to face difficulties in handling it. Also, I haven’t really had time to pause and think about the difficulties, but mostly, I have been enjoying it. Right now, I am happy that a lot of people are enjoying my work. It is very heartwarming to me because I have been working for a long time. The films I have done got good reviews and have travelled to some of the prestigious film festivals but they didn’t really reach a wider audience.
How important do you think is fame for an actor?
It is nice to have a lot of people watch your work but I really have thought of it as not the goal of my career but a bonus in my career. So, I do not work towards fame but if it happens to me, I won’t say no. For me, the work I do is far more important than anything else. In fact, a few years ago, I was possessive about showing my work to a lot of people.
What is your take on the digital medium?
With digital space, the content has become accessible for the audience. So, they feel more connected to you as you are more accessible to them. The kind of adulation actors get today is very different from the kind of adulation you had for a star which came from aspiration rather than relatability. So, I think that has changed.
Season two of Humorously Yours is coming much later. How will the two characters and their compatibility change?
I always believe that people do change a lot with time. There are some basic things in marriage which just never change. You will see Vipul and Kavya having some sort of better understanding of their relationship which comes with maturity and having lived with each other for years.
While working on Humorously Yours, did you get to see the real life of stand-up comedians and their struggles? Is it any similar to that of actors?
Oh yes. The struggle is kind of very similar, probably that is why Vipul and I connected easily. It is interesting to see how much they need to work on their piece, how much time they spend on writing a set and kind of work and insecurities that go behind a set. Sometimes there’s writer’s block when there are no ideas. They also check their jokes on some people. In fact, that was my biggest trouble on the set of Humorously Yours. Vipul kept testing all his jokes on me and most of the times, I didn’t even know he is testing a joke.
I know a lot of stand-up comics. The toughest part of their job is how they make their scripted set appear spontaneous and how they have to adapt it according to the place and audience. It is amazing to see how they continue a show even when they know their jokes are falling flat and creating no laughter. It is the toughest position to be in.
Is shooting for a comedy show as much fun as watching it?
I think it is even more fun shooting it than watching. All my other shows are so intense that I would have to undergo a lot of preparation before going on the sets. But Humorously Yours was such a break from a stressful life.
You are known as a character actor. The roles we have seen you majorly in have been hard hitting. Is Humorously Yours a thoughtful attempt to break the image you have created in the past few years?
I primarily respond to the script and the people I am working with rather than thinking where that piece of work is going to take me in my career and how is it going to showcase me. Similarly, with Humorously Yours, I am excited with the kind of work TVF is doing. I feel their scripting is on par with the best that we have around. Yes, as an actor, the excitement of experimenting with different genres I had not experimented before is there but not as a strategic move to showcase myself differently. When you are truly in love with acting, you inherently want to try a variety of things.
With all of your recent work like Made in Heaven, Mirzapur, Manto and Delhi Crime receiving such great reviews, has the perspective of filmmakers changed towards you?
I think it has. After my performance in Qissa, the film fraternity had acknowledged my work. A lot of directors have appreciated my work even though this work hasn’t really reached out to many people. I think what was playing against me for a while was ‘oh the work she does hasn’t really been popular.’ I hope that has changed now.
Have you also started picking your roles more carefully?
I want to fiercely protect the idea of choosing my work instinctively. If something thrills me as an actor, I want to do it, irrespective of its popularity. I think having a preconceived notion of what the destination of work would be or how it’s going to be received is a very narrow approach. Then you stop experimenting with things which you must experience.