With Four More Shots Please Season 2, Sayani Gupta reprises the role of Damini who is a “complex human being who tends to overcomplicate her life.”
In a recent interaction with indianexpress.com, Gupta talked about the Amazon Prime Video show, playing strong women on screen and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What attracted you to the role of Damini since it’s a very different role and we haven’t seen you in such a glamorous role?
I did do Baar Baar Dekho too (laughs). Four More Shots is high on the glamour quotient and has perfect looking women. But to constantly look perfect is quite exhausting. Also, sometimes what happens is that you may have given a good take in terms of your performance, but you have to do another shot because your hair wasn’t perfect. Otherwise, Damini has a lot going on professionally and personally. She’s also a complex human being who tends to overcomplicate her life. I really like that she’s really funky, courageous and very opinionated. She’s strong and it is a great part. I really enjoyed playing and being Damini. In the second season, the drama is much more. There’s a lot going down for everyone. Even in my (character) graph, there’s a lot going on. Mentally I think she’s more on the edge in the second season. It’s a constant oscillation of emotions, so there’s a lot to do as an actor.
Do you resonate with the series?
I totally resonate with the series which is why I said yes in the first place. I feel there’s a dearth of women-led narratives where they have complete agency over their lives and they are in complete control. It’s not about other people but their lives, desires and wants. That’s what makes them humane. I think what Four More Shots wanted to do from the word go is to create a narrative where women have the agency. None of the characters are perfect. They have their flaws. They do the right or wrong things, as every normal human being would do. And then you sort of root for them because they are the captains and they are really amazing characters. We got a lot of positive response from the audience for the first season. These kinds of things make you realise that cinema is so powerful that you can manage to do a lot with it. The show also talks about female bonding. Not a lot of narratives talk about female bonding, friendships and how special it is.
The show was also criticised for showing drinking and smoking as a sign of women empowerment. What are your thoughts?
I truly believe that women empowerment does not have to be about women smoking or drinking. Even in the last scene of Lipstick Under My Burkha, where women are smoking, I had major concerns about that. In my opinion, empowerment is when women have the chance to do what they want to do and the courage to do what they want. In this show, which is about women in urban areas, there are women who tend to drink a lot and there’s nothing wrong with it. That is what the show is trying to say. So basically the thought that ‘women can’t do this, women can’t do that’ is not right. Four More Shots Please wanted to show a bunch of women who have agency, are fierce but not apologetic about their life.
The show has been compared with Sex and the City. Did you foresee this comparison?
It has similarities with Sex and the City. It is very much in that space. I am sure the makers and the writers have been inspired by the Sex and the City because it is from that generation. But having said that, I don’t think there was any intention of remaking Sex and the City. It was just about showing four women who are funky and have flaws.
In reality, do you relate more with Damini or with the other three women?
I relate the most with Damini because I am also a control freak. I love being in control. I am also a perfectionist which can be borderline OCD sometimes. I am opinionated and I have been brought up like that. Women in my family are like that. The greatest influence in my life has been my grandmother. She was a philosopher, writer and a very opinionated woman. There’s a big part of me which is like Damini. She is half Bengali. I am also Bengali. But apart from that, we are different. She is very complex and I am not complex at all. I live simple and prefer not overcomplicating my life. So there is no similarity in how our personal lives are. Also, I am not confused about men. (laughs).
Are you more inclined towards characters with substance, or do you think that you have been typecast in these intense roles?
I don’t think I have been typecast at all. If you see the roles I have done, they are dramatically different. They are the kinds that I can relate to, be it Gaura in Article 15, Hina Siddiqui in Jolly LLB 2 or Rohini in Inside Edge. The women I portray, I need to to be able to empathise with them and relate to them. I instinctively get attracted to women who are strong and are good at what they do or have a purpose in life. I love playing women like that.
You have done movies, theatre and web series. What’s stopping you from venturing into TV?
Because there’s nothing good on TV. I don’t watch TV and I have never watched TV except maybe Tehkikaat and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi with my mother when I was growing up. I don’t think people watch that much TV now with OTT platforms coming in. I mean there is probably a big audience, but I don’t relate to that at all. Even now, I am not someone who watches a lot of shows because I am busy most of the time. The only way I can watch is if I binge-watch. I can’t watch one episode and wait for the next episode to come the next week. I can’t do that.
What after Four More Shots Please Season 2?
My British series has just released on ITV. It’s called Good Karma Hospital where I play a nurse who suffers an acid attack and that becomes the main track of the series. It’s incredible. The detailed work in terms of the aesthetics, the direction and even how it’s shot is quite incredible. I am fortunate that we are in a time where there is diverse work for actors to do.