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Exclusive! Actors Ankush Bahuguna and Apoorva Arora say most beautiful scenes in Badboli Bhavna were improvised

The short film on the life of a social media influencer is currently streaming on Amazon miniTV.

  • Akhila Damodaran

Last Updated: 04.08 PM, May 08, 2022

Exclusive! Actors Ankush Bahuguna and Apoorva Arora say most beautiful scenes in Badboli Bhavna were improvised
Apoorva Arora and Ankush Bahuguna in Badboli Bhavna

The recent short film by Amazon miniTV, Badboli Bhavna is receiving a great response from the audience and critics alike. Directed by Pranjal Dua, the short film features actor Apoorva Arora and digital content creator Ankush Bahuguna. This comedy-drama revolves around the struggles of a couple when one of them turns into a social media influencer.

OTTplay exclusively caught up with the actors to speak about the film, their social media life and more. Excerpts:

Could you tell us a short film and what can the audiences expect?

Apoorva: It's gonna be a laugh riot. The film is about the life of an influencer who's just started becoming famous as she's waiting to get 1 million followers. She's married to this guy with a simple job and the same routine. The changes in life due to her new career, and the way they navigate. how the family tries to understand and how they overcome the challenges is basically what it is about. I feel that a lot of people are going to be able to relate to it.

Ankush: Badboli Bhavna is an insight into the lives of people you see on Instagram. It's about this girl who's finally found her place in terms of her career in life, and she's gotten famous. She's married to a very supportive person, and everything changes between them because of some decisions that she takes. The fact that he can't deal with her newfound fame and how it affects their marriage, their relationships with their parents and how they as a couple navigate through this. Do their marriage last or do they end up breaking each other's hearts? That's what the movie is about.

Both of you are looking fab in it. Could you tell us how did you land this project?

Ankush: I got a call from a casting agency saying we are going to test you. In the scene I got for an audition, I didn't have too many dialogues. I first thought what was even the point of the audition then. They told me that they want to see how much I can restrain myself. I talk very fast in my Instagram videos. You've to show your comic timing through your silence and you have to show how you can captivate audiences just by being silent also. Us audition scene mein, there were a lot of dialogues of Apoorva and not mine. I just had to be awkward. And I've grown up to be a very awkward person. So I could just channel my entire childhood into that audition and I was like, what is happening? I don't understand what's happening around me because that is how Sankalp is in the movie. He doesn't understand what is happening suddenly in his life. I guess they liked my audition and that's how I landed the project.

Apoorva: Initially, I was told that it was going to be a show. So I thought I had to audition for a show. I was in Delhi at my parents' house. So I requested mom to record the video. My parents are also trained now. They've known that I want to be an actor and that I am going to give auditions every day. Unko pata hai ke ab unko record karna padega and cues dene padenge. I requested her to play the role of the husband in the audition. She shot it and gave me cues and she was amazing. I think the reason I got this job is because my mom was giving me amazing cues. The challenge was to maintain subtlety in the character because with such characters, you tend to go over the top. I had to balance the energy as she is very energetic as an influencer. I think the director and team found that in me and took it ahead.

Could you tell us about your characters and how do you relate to them?

Ankush: I actually relate to Bhavna more. But my character Sankalp is basically a very simple person who is not very vocal. He's a kind-hearted person, very well-intentioned, but brought up in a big house. He doesn't understand certain things if he's being sexist. In today's age with the use of the internet, there are so many new concepts that he's finding out about misogyny or sexism or mansplaining. He wants to understand and learn everything but the pace at which this information is thrown at him, he feels lost. And he sometimes feels no matter how politically incorrect he is, at the end of the day, if he cannot open up to his wife, what is even the point. He constantly feels he was to watch his words in front of his wife now that she is an influencer. His wife was also like him but she soon evolved due to social media and her experiences. I think Sankalp is trying to be the same person but the things around him are not the same. And he's trying to stick to his marriage and do what he can but he sometimes feels very unseen because his wife is now suddenly so famous. He feels insecure as he feels this is not the person he married and where is he placed in all this.

Apoorva: I don't relate so much to Bhavna. The first reason being the character is a married woman and this is my first time playing a married character. She is a housewife and I have been working since I was 13. So I had all those challenges. I use my phone a lot but I don't obsess over taking photos or videos or reels. I don't think about it much. I think I need to look for content in everything. So on the sets, when Sankalp used to say something, I would think 'isko Instagram mein daalna hai, usko Instagram mein daalna hai'. I had to work on that a lot and hope it has come out well. I had to relate to this factor where the family is trying to understand your newfound fame, the fact that you are an artist and that you are going to be lost or energetic sometimes and that they need to hold the lights or record something, so I was able to relate to those things.

It has kind of become like a mandate to be active on social media. Has it ever taken a toll on your personal lives?

Ankush: Of course, many times. I mean, that's just an occupational hazard for what we do. Social media pe jo videos banata hu, that is what earns me my bread. So I have to keep doing it. Now everybody's on social media, not just content creators or influencers or actors. We've grown up in an age of social media and it has taken a toll on the mental health of users as well. I think it's just something that we, as a generation, are dealing with collectively.

Apoorva: As Ankush said, it does take a toll on everybody. Even if they are not public figures, when they see someone's vacation posts, they feel they should also go. Unko ye realise nahi hota hai ke main abhi to gaya tha or I am not ready yet.

Ankush: You actually do not know how much the other person has enjoyed those vacations as they are posting only the best parts.

Apoorva: Exactly. Log usmein itna ghuse huye hai ke wo line draw karna bhool jate hai. That's very important for people like us.

Do you two obsess about the number of views and likes and comments that you get on your posts?

Ankush: We do, which is why we would love for all of you to go and watch Badboli Bhavna. We do obsess about views. Isliye movie dekh lo ja ke and humein shaant kar do thoda. We want great views on this project.

What were your key takeaways from the film?

Ankush: Key takeaway from the short film is that agar aap mujhe aur Apoorva ko ek scene mein daaloge to scene 2 page ka hoga par hamara improv 6 pages ka hoga. It might become a feature film from a short film. But it would still be engaging to watch because everybody on the sets would be laughing.

Apoorva: All the love goes to the director. He never called for a cut and allowed us to keep doing.

Ankush: The three of us got together and we would ask hum log improv kare and he would say haan, karo. Ussi mein to maza aata hai and so many beautiful moments in the film are because we did improv. Kabhi kabhi aapki comic timing baith jati hai improv mein and they were not planned. With more takes, we would do more improv. So that was the key takeaway. If you have a co-star who understands your vibe and gets the beat, your joke gets 10 times funnier. And I am truly grateful for this opportunity. When I on set for an acting job, I feel so grateful because this is what I always wanted to do.

Apoorva: When I get married in life, I need to get married to someone who understands my job. So that I don't have to struggle like Bhavna. As an actor, I also learned how to use the fumbles that we usually do in our conversations. I got a chance to practice that. Thanks to Pranjal who let me do it. Jab aap acting karte ho, everytime you fumble, they cut and then take a retake. In this, I told him jab jhagada ho raha hai, jab Bhavna tez tez bol rahi hai, to wo karegi fumble. I have learned this now. The character is such that she talks a lot and doesn't think much or does so when she's fighting.

Ankush, you've earlier spoken about your struggle with auditioning and pursuing your dream of acting. How does it feel to see it happening finally?

Ankush: It feels surreal. I have such a good experience on the sets. Many times, you go on set and shoot and the project turns out great. But what you feel on the set is so equally important. While I was on set, I was constantly excited to do the next scene and excited to do improvs. Pranjal is a person who's so great to work with. I'm glad that when this happened to me, it happened under the supervision of such nice people. As an actor, it is important for people to allow you that space to build your own character because there's so much of it that is open to interpretation. I come from a writing background. I've been a writer for many years and I can't disconnect with it as an actor. If I am acting, I'd be focussing on the script as well. And for Pranjal to allow us that space was great.

So, what was the transition like from being a digital content creator to an actor? Any challenges you faced?

Ankush: During the pandemic, when you are shooting from home, you do it in your pajamas because the frames are tight. So when I was on set with my whole body visible in the frame, it took a while to adjust as I was not used to that anymore. I had to move the body according to the character and the frame is not just restricted to the face. Some shots are wide and you need to figure out your body language and everything. And sometimes, it is very easy to get carried away with comedy. I have my own brand of comedy on Instagram and it is very easy to slip into that. Suddenly, Sankalp Ankush jaise bolne na lag jaye. That was the struggle I was facing on the first day. I used to think is joke ko aise deliver karte hai to aur funny lagega but Sankalp is not someone who wants to be funny. He is unintentionally funny. When I crack a joke, I crack it with the intention to make it a joke. But when Sankalp is saying something, you laugh seeing his situation.

If there was one thing that you would like to change about social media, what would that be?

Apoorva: Trolls.

Ankush: I'd like to have 1 million followers. I'd like to change my following count.

Apoorva, you've worked on different formats like films, web series and YouTube shows. Do you find any difference between these formats?

Apoorva: Of course. In terms of budgets, films have a larger budget. I started with an indie film but that was a big set too. There are many people involved. Sabke apne apne departments hote hai, apna dedicated department hota hai. We sometimes take 2 to 3 days to shoot one scene because it's a fight scene, it takes time. When I started doing YouTube videos, I used to shoot a lot in a day. Itne saare pages ek he din mein shoot kara dete the. Itna shooting maine kabhi nahi kara. Then OTT started happening and I find OTT a balance between films and YouTube. Everything is balanced in OTT. But at this point, I feel that the divide is diminished. People are putting the same amount of money and effort into each project, irrespective of the format. And due to my experience in the last four, or five years, I've been able to move from one medium to another easily. I understand the scenes clearly soon.

Who are your dream filmmakers and actors you would like to collaborate with?

Ankush: There are so many, I can't choose. I want to see who chooses me (laughs). I have a long list - Anubhav Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Farah Akhtar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, so many people. I would like to work with Onir. Also, thanks to OTT, there are so many new filmmakers now who are doing great content. I'd like to work with them too.

Apoorva: I am now following a lot of Punjabi films and they are great. So I would like to work with the director of Qismat, Jagdeep Sidhu and Simarpreet Singh. It is endless. There are so many amazing directors. And due to OTT, people like us are getting noticed too.