The balancing act between offbeat cinema and glossy content is no cinch. Few actors have been successfully able to dabble in both the worlds and Neil Bhoopalam is one of them. After making esoteric choices with Shaitan (2011), Ungli (2014) and Kaalakaandi (2014), he opted for the sheen with web series like Four More Shots Please and Masaba Masaba.
In an exclusive chat with News18, Bhoopalam credits the new-age digital audience with embracing such shows with open arms, which has also nudged him to make diverse choices. “I was very confident that a format like Masaba Masaba would work because of the time we live in. If we made these shows ten years ago, they would probably not work. Timing is everything. Audience and technology now serendipitously have matched up at an interesting level,” he says.
He admits that Lust Stories (2018), Four More Shots Please! or Masaba Masaba wouldn’t have been accepted, had alternative platforms of content consumption not come to the fore and gained momentum. “If these projects would have been made in the past, we would have to put it on television. And there’s no way there would be takers for such shows!” he asserts.
In line with his thoughts, the 39-year-old recalls shooting for a television show titled 24, which required making lots of creative compromises. He says, “While shooting, there were so many restrictions. Some dialogues couldn’t be addressed in a particular manner. Characters couldn’t be shown drinking and smoking. When you’ve so many limitations, you get further away from the truth.”
Bhoopalam feels making shows with imperfect characters living flawed lives for the small screen would have proved detrimental for show runners and makers. “On television, you can only show one dimension. We can only show a Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on a platform like that. If we spent all that time and effort [like we do for web shows], we would go through tremendous losses because nobody would care to watch them,” he states.
The actor was recently seen in the second season of Masaba Masaba where he reprised the role of Dhairya Rana, a hopeless romantic, from the first season. Ask him if he’s one in real life too and he says, “I’m not a patch of what my character in the show is. I perhaps have a few pieces of that jigsaw puzzle in me.”
Happy with the love coming his way, Bhoopalam says, “I would give myself a pat on the back although I cannot not take credit for all the appreciation that has come. The only credit that I can take is for showing up on the set and working and that’s all that’s in my control. We had a minimum of four writers on Masaba Masaba. Each scene, sentence and interaction was meticulously drafted and redrafted.”
But what truly makes him happy is being able to infuse a spark into Dhairya, a trait he believes his real self lacks. The NH10 (2015) actor candidly shares, “By the time I saw myself performing my character in the show, I came to the conclusion that he’s more interesting than the human being playing it. This is across the board. Any actor whose work we like, we will eventually notice that the character they play is seven times more interesting than the human beings performing them.”
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