Facing the camera is not a new feat for filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker, the creative genius who has helmed some of Indian cinema’s most defining films (read Lagaan, Swades, Jodhaa Akbar) in the millennial generation. For many who grew up in the late 90s, his acting stint in the television series Woh in 1998, remains an early memory of him as a performer. In recent times, cinephiles will remember him as Raja Karmerkar, the righteous son in the National Award-winning Marathi film Ventilator. But truth be told, the man has been acting alongside actor Aamir Khan since the latter’s cinematic debut in 1984 with Holi.
With Kaala Paani, the new show which premieres on OTT from October 18 onwards, Gowariker is excited about venturing into new realms. That he collaborates with Sameer Saxena and Amit Golani, two names who have fronted some of Indian OTT’s most defining shows in the last decade, speaks about his strive to better himself as a creative visionary.
A still from Kaala Paani
When asked about having witnessed more than three decades of transition since his debut in the industry, the filmmaker shares, “I think speed is the biggest element that has come into the shooting styles, across different platforms. Earlier we would do three scenes in a day. You could interact with your co-stars and engage with one other in rehearsals. As time has progressed, we have now come into a space where we are given twelve scenes a day. And you’re supposed to deliver these scenes while performing. I’m not just speaking for web or television. It is the same story with film also. So, you have to deliver, you have to perform and do your best within that time zone where if your co-actor is delivering at a certain pace, I have to deliver at that pace. If I don’t deliver, I’m going to be out. As a creative conglomerate, anyone who delays the process cannot be taken again.”
Gowariker plays Admiral Zibran Quadri in Kaala Paani, a righteous bureaucrat who always wants to do the right thing.
When prodded to reveal if he ever exchanged footnotes with Saxena and Golani over how to crack the OTT code or has there been an instance where he has shared an anecdote or two with them, he shares, “I’m a director by observation. While I have acted, I have always observed my directors, whoever I have worked for, even if I was not required on-set. So, that became my schooling. While I really looked forward to working with both Sameer and Amit and I’m grateful I got the opportunity sooner than I anticipated, when I’m not shooting, I’m observing how they are operating and approaching their material. That has been a great learning curve for me.”
As we conclude our chat, Gowariker shares his acting process. “Acting is so difficult; I do not have the time to think as a director. That’s where I draw the line between the two,” he signs off.