Actor Arjun Mathur, who appears in Voot Select’s shot-at-home web series The Gone Game, hopes shoot-at-home doesn’t become the new normal because he has “run out of locations to shoot”. Also, the actor is “missing the sets.”
The Gone Game has Mathur playing the lead role of Sahil Gujral who dies mysteriously during the times of coronavirus pandemic. The script enticed the 38-year-old actor so much so that he got ready to work on it instantly and thinks he “would have been a fool to say no.”
In an interaction with IndianExpress.com, Arjun Mathur shared a detailed account of how he shot for the web series at his home. He also elaborated on the need for raising your voice in these “extremely troubled times”.
How and why did you get on board?
I got a call from somebody and I found out that it is Nikhil Bhat’s project. I have done a film with Nikhil a couple of years ago called Brij Mohan Amar Rahe, which was one of my most enjoyable experiences. I was immediately on board as I learned about Nikhil directing it. Second of all, we were in lockdown and everybody needed work! And lastly, the fact that what we were trying to do was a challenge and I wanted to be a part of that. It was no brainer for me.
You shot for Home Stories and The Gone Game from home. It must have been an unusual experience. What do you have to say about it?
It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It’s not easy. We were having to do the work of like ten departments. So, it was challenging but also extremely rewarding. Also, usually, actors don’t get to be such an involved part of every step of the storytelling process. But here, just because the set was our house, we had to be a lot more involved. It was a lot of hard work in terms of the labour involved, everything from moving furniture, handling equipment and holding thermocol and reflectors, all of it was time-consuming, frustrating and not easy. I have a lot of respect for a lot of jobs suddenly.
In shooting from home, you do not get to meet your co-actors in person. Does that affect your performance?
I certainly think so. Nothing can replace human interaction, looking into the co-actors eyes and performing with them. That is what acting is. To me, it is about exchanging energy and giving and receiving, instead of what we did in The Gone Game. This was cheating. At the end of it, everything the actors were doing was cheating. So, we were good cheaters. But it is not the ideal place to be.
What difference did the success of Made In Heaven make? How has the response of the industry been?
For Made In Heaven, I have got a lot of love, recognition and appreciation from the audience and industry alike. But that’s that. If we’re talking about offers, as far as A-list, mainstream Bollywood is concerned, there’s not much expectation from there. It is nothing new. People have always known me as a dependable actor; now just more people know me like that.
With OTT platforms, do you think it has become a level playing field?
A lot of people, be it writers, filmmakers, actors or technicians, are getting opportunities because of digital platforms. It’s like right now I have a web series Mafia starring Namit Das as much in my consciousness as a Gunjan Saxena. And with both of them side by side in front of me, I might actually ignore the big ones and just watch the smaller ones. That’s what’s interesting. The biggest films that I’ve had in the past that had all the money and resources, bombarded us with advertisements. Right now, none of that is happening, So the biggest of films are having to step off their chariot into the muck and we are all in the muck together now. And, it’s fair. Now, it’s just all about who delivers. Smallest of an actor can get more recognition than Salman Khan for his work.
In times when celebrities refrain from expressing opinions on social media, you do it quite actively. Where does the motivation come from?
A lot of it is my personality. As a person, injustice really gets to me. Since I have a voice, it’s my responsibility to raise it on issues that concern us as a society. People who have a lot to lose, maybe afraid of expressing their views. But I don’t have anything to lose.
We have been living in extremely troubled times in every sense. Whether it’s our environment, political scenario, state of media or Bollywood, it’s crazy what’s happening around us. I fail to understand how the most influential people in our country, the people the public looks up to most, sit there being so quiet, watch all this happen and don’t say a word. The only thing that concerns them is how many crores they might lose if they say one little thing about an injustice. I am sorry, but that is disgraceful and I never want to be like that.