Moses Koul also revealed, "I landed the role exactly two and a half weeks before we were supposed to shoot."
It's been nearly two weeks since Netflix dropped Class, and people still can't discuss the new and fresh talent that burst out on screen. Nearly 10 debutants were launched in the series: Anjali Sivaraman, Ayesha Kanga, Naina Bhan, Moses Kaul, Cwaayal Singh, Zeyn Shaw, Chayan Chopra, Madhyama Sehgal, and Chintan Rachchh. Recently, OTTplay spoke to Moses Kaul, who plays Sharan in the series. Major spoilers ahead: His character is the one who murders Suhani (Anjali Sivaraman), which is the ultimate twist of the show.
During a lengthy conversation, Moses revealed that he was the last actor to be cast in the show, almost ten days before the shoot began. Interestingly, he also revealed how the sequence of his character's killing Suhani was a one-take shot and how he went about it.
Edited excerpts follow.
How does it feel to have those responses for Class after it has been out for more than two weeks?
It's been quite surreal, to say the least. Since it dropped, there have been constant talks about the show, the characters, everything; it's been quite intense. It's a little difficult to keep up with it after a while. So I have very categorically kind of switched off from it a little bit. Otherwise, it gets really overwhelming, especially for someone who is not used to it at all. I'm a very introverted guy. I like to do things slowly on my own.
What's the most interesting thing you read about your character that has stuck with you?
Actually, a couple of things that I've read have really stuck with me. Someone tweeted it out to me. Actually, let me just pull this up, and I'll tell you what it was. It was something along the lines of, "Sharan's confusion and love were something that was completely unexpected as a character." The fact that they could completely relate to why Sharan does what he does and stands for purely out of the emotion of love, which I believe is very close to how I played it as well, is that I saw him not as a confused or angry character, but as someone who is so in love with Koel that he is willing to go to any length to prove to her that he is good enough for her. I'm getting a lot of love from overseas. I mean, lots of people are writing in from different countries. I think one thing that was really nice is that someone said I was their favourite character from the show because Sharan was the most intriguing character and the portrayal of the character was spot on and left no stone unturned. It was, according to them, the best performance of the show, which was just such a humbling thing to hear only because my character is the underdog, you don't really see him coming. Until the circumstance gets the better of him, and then he just clinches it that way. So I think these things are really nice. I tend to latch on to the positive stuff, and only positive stuff has been coming to me. I'm not actively trying to find out what people are saying on Twitter or Instagram; I'm just going with whatever comes my way.
It was sort of surprising that your character is the killer in the show. Were you surprised, too, to be given the task of bringing the entire twist to the series?
It was definitely a huge responsibility. I feel that knowing that I was the eventual culprit made it very important to me and for the makers to make sure that the character doesn't come across suspicious from the get-go. Otherwise, the impact and shock of what happens in the end will never come through. I had to play the character throughout in a way that I could play all the really angry parts without it becoming too over the top. So it was quite a challenge for me to make sure that my annoyance, my irritation, and my agitation with everything that was happening to Sharan didn't come across as someone who's capable of killing. That nuance, that fine line approach, was something that I was very aware of, and so was everybody else. Throughout the series, we have to make sure that he just comes across as "from nowhere." I feel like, maybe because people are reacting so strongly to it, we've done a successful job at it.
What were your thoughts on the social media discussions about how it portrayed society's reflection?
That, I believe, can also be attributed to the show's success. The makers and the writers have been completely honest in every possible way about the show, the characters, and what is being talked about. None of the topics that the show touches upon are alien; these are things that we live with. There are people who are going through it; I'm playing a character, and people have written to me saying that they relate to Sharan and that they have gone through what Sharan has gone through. I think that's what really speaks to people. In terms of my opinion on it, I think that the makers and the writers have tried to handle this in the most respectable manner and with the utmost nuance and grace, so that it doesn't come across as preachy. We're not trying to preach to people; there's no lecturing. It's like a showcase: this is what happened, and this is what is happening. What people take from it is their own interpretation of it, and they think that's really the beauty of it all.
How did you bag the role?
My story of the show is a film story in itself, and I'll tell you what happened as briefly as I can. I was asked to audition for this show back in early 2020, when we just had the first lockdown. I auditioned for three months. Personally, I have never acted in my life. I've never even performed in a play; my first audition was for "Class." I have absolutely zero acting experience. I love cinema, but that's because I'm a visual guy. But I had no idea. I was like, "This seems like a pretty big show; I don't think I'm going to get it. Why should I even waste my time? Let me just concentrate on what I do, which is music." Eventually, I ended up auditioning for it because the director's team kept saying, "Look, they want you to audition." The writers loved it, and the production loved it. But then there was still some back and forth about, "Is he good enough? Not good enough." Honestly, I landed the role of Sharan exactly two and a half weeks before we were supposed to shoot.
I was the last person to get shortlisted for this role. I had two and a half weeks to get in shape and get my body in order because Sharan was athletic. I had to do all that within two and a half weeks. By the way, the first thing I shot was my intimacy scene with Balli. The first day of the shoot was, for lack of a better word, the "blow job" scene. Now imagine what I went through. But on the first day itself, all the nerve defects were knocked out of the park, and I was just like, "Okay, it is what it is." It was quite a journey to even land the role for me. I was workshopping, but it wasn't final. I was auditioning every weekend, and it was like that till the very end. So I never really got a moment to sit down and be like, "Okay, what am I going to do?" It was just all like, "Go, go, go."
How did you handle those intimate scenes, which were explicit and hard for a newcomer to do?
It is a couple of things. Of course, the fact that Ashim Ahluwalia was shooting it—he's an excellent director—makes you feel extremely comfortable. So knowing that he was the one whose gaze and point of view we were representing, I knew it was not going to be vulgar. Secondly, there was an intimacy coordinator on set. He is someone who makes sure that the actors are comfortable and that there's choreography in the entire scene so that we know what we're doing and how things are going to be done. So, those two things obviously really helped. The third thing was that, in terms of comfort, doing it with two different genders, regardless of what my sexual orientation is or whatever it is, is challenging nonetheless. I think what really helped was the fact that, at the end of the day, I took it purely as craft, as something that has been given to me and I have to portray; I did not take it personally. I think that's what I learned: that the character I'm playing, Sharan, is not me, but a character that I'm playing. So whatever he does sexually, privately, or in any other way is a decision made by Sharan as a fictional character. In terms of my comfort, I feel like both Naina and Cywaal, whom I romance in different ways on the show, were themselves extremely comfortable with the intimacy, which made me feel the same way. I think it's something as basic as your parents and your friends having your back; my parents knew about everything. My friends knew about what I was doing; everybody knew about it. So I think that accepting that comfort really helped. That kind of behaviour shows, especially when certain kinds of intimacy involve people of the same sex or same orientation. What happens is that people start trying to cut corners; they fake a case. What happens is that, instead of removing the stigma around it, it perpetuates it. We didn't do that; if we were showing that someone is involved with somebody, the intimacy is real in that sense.
I believe the three of us have one of the show's most intimate arcs. It was something we were told from the beginning. We knew what we were up against, in that sense, and I think by the end of it we were able to let go of any sort of guilt, shame, or whatever you want to call it and realise that this is what has been given to us. We're first-time actors; it wasn't like we had any option to say whether we were going to do that or not. We were told right from the start that this would be the arc; we were completely in the know about everything. We knew what we were going to do. I can only say that we've gotten the difficult bit out of the way at the start of our careers, and I am very proud of that.
Initially, people thought that Class was set in a make-believe world. But now people are finding it quite relatable, and such a world and the people in it do exist.
I have actually done my schooling from Delhi itself. So I did not go to such a school; I went to a convent school, an all-boys school. But everybody knows those people from the super-rich schools who have all the access to power, money, and privilege that you can possibly imagine. At the same time, I feel like while Elite was shot about half a decade ago in Spain, Class is a very true representation of perhaps what is happening now in these super-privileged communities because of access to the Internet and to a lot of things. I don't think that it is, in any way, an extreme suspension of belief. Yes, of course, this is a fictional world; we're not showing a real school. It's all fictionalized. But the thing is that you can see that people are always relating to it. As far as I know, there are people from tier-two cities who say, "Listen, I literally know people like this in my cities." The thing is, with power comes a real perversion of choices, and I feel that's what we're trying to show. We're not trying to show that; it should be like this or not. We're trying to show what really goes on in these circles. Of course, it's a fictional world, and I'm not saying everybody is like this. But it's a story that has been built on the shoulders of things that are very much a part of society.
How do you recall shooting the most crucial moment of the show, where your character is killing Anjali Sivaraman's character, Suhani?
Thank you so much for asking this question because it's my crescendo; it is like my swan song, this particular scene. When we were workshopping this scene, I realised that the instinct to kill is instantaneous. It's like, for lack of a better word, how we kill a fly or a mosquito. Especially Sharan, he's not gone there with the grand idea of, "Oh, I'm going to go kill Suhani." She provokes him to the point that he reaches a breaking point and all hell breaks loose; that's essentially what happens. It's instantaneous in the moment, and he doesn't even realise that she's dead. He's still going on and bringing out all his pent-up anger, frustration, and humiliation. The thing is that Suhani knows the triggers for Sharan, and she calls them so many different names that nobody loves him. Sharan's final ostracization is the point at which he simply breaks.
Now, when it comes to how we shot it, it was shot in a single take. It started right when I walked out of the bushes. Ashim was particular that it had to be a single-shot scene because he wouldn't be able to capture the intensity of the build-up otherwise. Of course, eventually, they kind of got into the whole thing. But my thing was a single shot, and even Anjali's was a single shot. We did it over and over until, like, it reached the point where it was so creepy. I remember that the ADs would not look at it because it was just too difficult to watch. I feel that's truly why the scene really shines: because we let it pester and become even more creepy, to the point that it's almost difficult to watch. So it was a single shot.
Apart from your character, which other character arcs have you found interesting in the series?
Honestly, there are a lot of characters on the show that fall into the traditional category of romantic characters, which, of course, a lot of people usually relate to because it's easy to relate to them. But I think, for me, it's always been the layered and slightly difficult-to-understand characters that I really enjoyed. I feel like Cywaal as Balli was quite an interesting arc for me; that was very interesting. I feel Yashika (Ayesha) is an interesting character, purely because of how layered she is; she's putting on this front, but deep down she's completely different, where hell is being let loose. I think these two characters in particular really stood out for me; it's very interesting.
So, have you heard anything about the second season of Class?
Wow, the thing is—and I'll be honest with you—there was a point in time where we were sure that the show was not even going to come on air because there were so many delays. We almost thought the show was not going to happen. But Netflix genuinely believed in the show; they have so many shows, but they believed in Class, and they put it out. I feel like they're really happy with the response. So I'm hoping that, based on the response, we get season two. We've signed on for three seasons now, and whether they get made or not is dependent on how well season one does and what kind of story whoever's writing that has to tell. But I'm really hopeful that there will be a Season 2 because I feel like the fans really want to know what happens next and where the entire story goes. So, season two will undoubtedly happen, God willing. Right now, there has been no information provided to us about it.