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Exclusive! Actor Vishal Jethwa says there should be training for actors post filming to help detach from characters

Jethwa will be next seen in the Disney+Hotstar series Human, which releases on January 14. The series stars Shefali Shah, Kirti Kulhari, Ram Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Aditya Srivastava, Mohan Agashe, among others.

Akhila Damodaran
Jan 10, 2022
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Vishal Jethwa/Instagram

Actor Vishal Jethwa wooed the audience with his performance as Sunny in Rani Mukerji's film Mardaani 2. And now, he is returning to screens with his OTT debut show Human. 

Speaking to OTTplay exclusively, the actor said he was not sure if OTT space should be something that he should be exploring now even though it has grown tremendously during the pandemic. "I was not aware of OTT platforms much and so, I was not sure if I should do a web series or not. My manager used to convince me a lot saying that OTT is actually growing and is a big platform now. I had also received two to three OTT project scripts before which I did not take up. Later, I got a call from Vipul sir and Mukhesh Chhabra sir's teams. They asked me to read the script and decide if I want to do it or not. I read it and fell in love with the character Mangu because he has a lot of variations and ups and downs. He goes through a rollercoaster ride throughout the series," he says adding that in films, it is usually difficult to get such roles often, which has a proper journey and time. He says OTT gives the liberty to explore the character as the storytelling format there is longer and hence, it gives an artist more scope to be able to perform better. The liberty is not just limited to actors but also the makers of the show as they get to tell the story in detail.  

Another reason why he decided to work on the series is its cast and crew. The medical thriller series is directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah and Mozez Singh. It also stars the National award-winning actor Shefali Shah, Kirti Kulhari, Ram Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Aditya Srivastava, Mohan Agashe, among others. He says it was a 'complete package'. "Isse achha package aur kya milega. I couldn't wait anymore. After reading the script and learning the big names involves in the project, I had to say yes," he says.   

Speaking about working with Shefali and Kirti, the actor said he would have felt intimidated had Shefali Shah not spoken and made him feel comfortable. "When I first saw Shefali ma'am, she was busy with some work in the office. I wanted to go talk to her but couldn't gather the courage to do so. Vipul sir then told me that she was praising my performance and she would come to talk to me. I was preparing for an emotional scene that I had to shoot with her. I was in my own zone when she suddenly come to me and said I am a talented actor. She praised me a lot. Phoolon ki baarish jaise ho rahi thi mere pe. That made me feel so comfortable," he says. However, he was initially scared to act alongside Kirti Kulhari. "Kirti's English is so fluent. I had watched her in the series. I was worried if she would say something that I wouldn't understand. But after working for a few days with her, I realised she's really cool," he adds. 

Vishal Jethwa

Human is about the unethical human drug testing where Vishal plays one of the victims. Vishal says he was not well aware of human trials before he joined this show and he couldn't meet any victims himself. "I did not know about human trials. I knew about animal testing. I got to know after the show. I have seen several clippings of these victims and their stories. Some people in a town took the risk of losing their lives for just Rs 700. They were not aware of the risks and what they are putting their bodies through. I believe if human trials are important, they should be conducted well, with proper guidance and treatment under the supervision of a doctor," he says. 

But the transition from playing a villain to a victim was not easy. It was an opposite role and he had to unlearn and learn a lot. "I play a victim here. I had to think from an opposite angle. But I applied a lot of things that I learned during Mardaani. In the film, I speak in the Meerut dialect but for the series, I picked on the Bhopali accent. People who do not have detailed knowledge might think it is similar but there is a lot of difference between the two dialects. I had to work a lot on myself internally and the entire team helped me with it. Mozez sir ne is character ko guilt ke saath relate kia hai. He told me to carry that guilt in every frame after the first episode. There are many aspects to my character. The DOP, art department, costumes helped create an atmosphere on the sets that made it a little easier to perform," he says. The actor says he would wonder if he's playing Sunny or Mangu when the director would call the action. "Sunny was so intense and dark. I was deeply connected with the character that I had to take a lot of time to get disconnected with. But everyone helped. Mozez sir helped a lot as he knows the characters more than I do. He has given birth to that character. He made me understand a lot. Before every scene, he would tell what had happened prior. Mozez sir is very emotional and connected with his characters so well. Wo tumhe characters ke andar bithake action bolte hai so that performance gets easier. He is that good," he adds.

Vishal Jethwa in Mardaani 2/Instagram

However, he feels though the makers provide workshops and training before a show or a film to help understand the character and story better, they should do so after completing the shoot for the project to help them unwind as well. "Before we start on a show, the writers and directors conduct workshops and trainers to get you into the shoes of the character. After a project, they just appreciate your work. There is, unfortunately, no workshop to help you get out of that character," he says wishing the industry brings in a change with training for a day or two to disassociate with the character, especially if it is an intense one. He cites an example, "There is a scene in Human where my sister is hitting me hard for something I did wrong. After the scene got shot, she was so into the character that she continued to hit and verbally abuse me. All gathered around the sets and Mozez sir also started crying. It was an emotional scene. These things happen on sets."  

After years of experience, Vishal says he has realised what helps him unwind after a project. He enjoys running and walking on streets, spending time with his old friends and indulging in some Gujarati folk music, which he says personally, satisfies his soul. 

Vishal Jethwa/Instagram

Jethwa has worked on TV, films and now OTT. Speaking about his experience in these mediums so far, he says every medium poses a different challenge. "For TV, you need to shoot every day, sometimes more than 12 hours a day since it's a daily show. In films, you get scripts two to three moments in advance. So you get time to prepare but time to tell a story is limited. In a series, you have a lot of time but for 10 episodes, you need to maintain your character. That can also become difficult. There is a word that I have coined. It's cinematic limitations. There are many things that I can limit you to do your work, be it budget, locations and other elements for both makers and actors. For Human, the first scene I shot was from episode 9. For a series of 10 episodes, I started from episode 9 directly. I didn't know what my character has gone through before. So, there are different limitations," he says but adds that his stint in TV has provided him great schooling and made adapting to different mediums and performing comparatively easier.

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