With the advent of OTT platforms, we have been exposed to several shows that have quickly become our favourites. Not only shows, but this new (relatively) medium of entertainment has also provided us with several individuals possessing tremendous acting capabilities.
Amongst these is the affable Gopal Datt, who's featured in various sketches and shows by TVF and the now-defunct AIB. He has played a variety of roles in these sketches (and shows) and has been a more than contributing part of this burgeoning breed of 'actors of the internet' that includes the likes of Biswapati Sarkar, Nidhi Singh, Navin Kasturia, and Jitendra Kumar among others.
Being the ever-active actor that he is, Datt is all set to regale us with his acting chops once again in the upcoming show 'Wakaalat From Home'. To be streamed on Amazon Prime Video, the show is based on the chaos surrounding a virtual divorce hearing. Datt will be portraying the role of a lawyer in the show and has Nidhi Singh, Sumeet Vyas, and Kubbra Sait as co-stars.
International Business Times, India, got in touch with Gopal Datt regarding the same wherein he shared his experience of shooting from home, theatre days and more. Here are the excerpts from that conversation:
1. Gopal Datt on his new show 'Wakaalat from Home'
Waqalat From Home is a fun ride and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Since there were so many restrictions during the making of it, the writing part actually became extremely interesting. As whenever we used to first read the scripts and then share ideas with each other, it was more of teamwork. The actors were all friends and even Rohan Sippy was very open to suggestions and ideas. It was a collective effort and all of us contributed with Anubhav Pal for the script. All in all, it was virtual teamwork from everyone.
2. On shooting from home, without the crew and professionals
The shooting experience was quite different for this one... As all of us had to shoot our parts from our home, it definitely had all of us multi-tasking. The things that we do not normally acknowledge when we see a film on-screen, like lightning, set arrangement etc, we realised their importance during the shoot. I realised the importance of art in the movie. Light arrangements, set decorations, and other subtle details which are generally overlooked, I found a new respect for the crew, art directors and everyone for doing these little things, while having to do all of it myself.
3. On preparing for the role and taking inspiration from real-life experiences
I have played the role of a lawyer in a play previously and also in a series but it was different and more intense than this character. This one was a fun character with a hint of craziness. I have seen such funny characters in real life and that observation helped me in prepping for the role, thinking that what if that real-life crazy person became a lawyer. My character is just not about being a lawyer and if you'll watch the series, you'll get to know about the various facets of the role and we all must have seen such kind of people in real life. Anuvab Pal's writing was so strong and apt that I just had to add a personal touch and the character was ready.
4. Views on Big Screens Vs Digital Platforms
See, I don't think that the platform actually matters that much in the present time. But I feel that digital platforms are better as of now because, yes they did give me better chances to play various characters and roles and while big screens are pretty hero-centric, the digital platforms give us the liberty to showcase different types of stories - multi-layered stories, off-beat ones. For me, the content and the story matter more than the platform they are shown on and I would definitely take up an interesting story regardless of the platform.
5. On theatre days in Delhi and life lessons
There are many stories from my Delhi theatre days... I could go on and on about them but surely the beginning of my acting has been from Delhi only... From the National School of Drama (NSD) to theatre shows, I have grown as an actor there. The teachers and the earliest shows there are all special and will always remain so.
6. On being an outsider in the dreamland of Bollywood
So when I came to Mumbai for the first time, I knew that it was going to be difficult but the confidence that I got from my theatre days at NSD, that yes, I can be an actor and I'll understand the roles helped me a lot. I knew it will take time and I kept in working hard and tried to avoid the negativity that came amidst the journey.
7. On his first project as an actor with Irfan Khan
My first project was Farida Mehta's film 'Kaali Salwar' based on Manto's story. I was still at NSD and Farida was in Delhi and she asked me to meet after the completion of my course. So we met and I had a small role in the movie alongside stars like Irfan Khan and Surekha Sikri.
8. On doing content-driven shows, movies
I always try to do content-driven sketches. Be it a funny script or any other genre, I always look for uniqueness and the writing should be nice but as an actor, things are not always in your hands, especially at the start of your career. So, we usually do whatever we get for survival but now, I prefer content that attracts me and even if the money is good, I prefer good stories over them. Sometimes, I meet writers with amazing stories having budget constraints, but still, I do such short films, videos and will continue doing so.
9. On how training helps in improving the acting skills
For the young lot, I would say that training does help. Although training does not always need to be from drama school only, people can learn a lot just by observing also... Reading, monologue preparation, speaking exercises or even joining theatre groups are some of the things which definitely help in bettering the skills.
10. One character that you love the most from the web series you have done and why?
I love my character from the web series Delhi Crime as a cop named Sudheer because the writing of the show and my character is flawless and unique. I also like my character in the Hindi version of the 'Office', TP Mishra, as I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.
11. How has this lockdown been treating you? Did you face any pay cuts and other issues?
Thankfully for me, the lockdown period wasn't as hard as it was for most people because I was busy with this project and as we had to shoot from our homes, it kept us on our feet with the script discussions, rehearsals, setup arrangement, app discussion, etc. It kept us mentally occupied which, all thanks to Rohan and Anubhav, were a good thing. And afterwards, I was engaged in another project. So, I would say that for me and my team, the lockdown was anything but dull and boring.
12. How to maintain calm and patience in hard times as an actor?
I would say to people who are losing their patience amidst the lockdown that this period can be used for the preparation of many other things and not just as a vacation... You can read something interesting, prepare for newer things, improve health, etc... Because this all will be surely over someday and then this preparation will be handy for the future.