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Exclusive! Eisha Chopra: When you play one role well, you get that offer many times over

Eisha has recently been seen in Salt City alongside Piyush Mishra, Divyendu and Gauahar Khan.

  • Sunidhi Prajapat

Last Updated: 11.31 AM, Jun 18, 2022

Exclusive! Eisha Chopra: When you play one role well, you get that offer many times over

Source: Instagram

Eisha Chopra is one of the famous faces on OTT with her stints in popular web shows like What The Folks, Official CEOgiri, Permanent Roommates and more. The actress has mostly been seen emerging in comedy series.

Meanwhile, recently she has been witnessed playing a serious role in SonyLIV's latest series, Salt City. The actress shared the screen with actors like Piyush Mishra, Divyendu and Gauahar Khan. In a candid chat with OTTplay, she spoke about her experience of working in the show and also unveiled her upcoming projects. Excerpts:

How would you describe Salt City in your words?

Salt City is a family drama about a family that has been largely in denial about a lot of truth for many years. The story unfolds in a way that all the truth is to come to light. It's basically a moment between the family. They have lived with each other and their extra lives have kept them together - helped them be. Eventually, something happens that brings them together. You see all the kids coming back home. It's basically a sort of homecoming story where everyone is forced to confront each other. It's basically a story about an intrusion within the family.

This story is based in Mumbai. So what would you say the city is to you?

I have a very interesting relationship with Mumbai. I'm from Delhi. Nobody goes to Mumbai without a purpose. I know people who are born and raised in Mumbai. I would call them relaxed. They are very easy people in India to get along with.

People come to Mumbai for a reason. That reason is always the driving force of the city. Even though this is a family story, people in Mumbai are very much just individuals. That's what Mumbai is. There's a low quality of life here. You have beaches but don't get to use them. Places are falling apart. It's dirty, crowdy and smelly but yet, people love it.

There's always a calm. There's an invisible force in Mumbai that is unique and special. It also has a wonderful spirit, which is in its people. They give you places to go.

I switched my work as an adult. I did something that I studied and was good at. I decided to drop it and move to Mumbai to do this. So, I have a very classic story that way. I'll always say that the city embraced me and gave me back a lot. It's been tough but rewarding. I'll always have that special place for Mumbai. After COVID, I came to Delhi and so, it put Mumbai in another perspective for me but I have a kind of volatile romance with the city. When you're there, you want to leave and when you leave, you want to always go back.

What was it about the series that attracted you as an actor?

I've been a feminist since the day I was born. My mother never took permission from my father to do anything. She made more money than him at times. So, it was news to me when I became an adult and realized that the world functions differently. My family isn't super liberated. I had a very strict upbringing but I came from a family where my mother and father were equal. So, that is something I became aware of. I got to know that there was an existing problem in India and certainly in the Indian film industry. I found success post-Neerja and I'm very happy about that. It's a very different kind of storytelling. It's about the representation of women - not as individual characters but what the takeaway story says about women. It is the first thing I look for in a role. Projects could be female-centric or not - Salt City isn't - but one of the things I look about is what will it say? What will a girl say about herself after she watches the show?

I'm always getting cast as the smart and strong girl. I don't want to do them now. The challenge comes in showing emotions and humour. My character choice is being something completely different from what I have played. When you do one thing and you do it well, you get offered that many times over. So, when this was offered to me, I was actually quite surprised because I did not see the aspects in me which the director did. The aspects are - can I be gentle, quiet, subdued. It is very interesting for me to try and play someone who is a wallflower. He cast me because he's interested in that - seeing how someone who doesn't easily do that - that person is playing a subdued character. This character actually finds a voice in the show. That is what attracted me to it - that she found her awakening in the story.

She was already someone who was doing well in her life and career. She was very successful. Her mother is a very typical Indian housewife and she was born into that. She was becoming that till something happened. The changes were interesting to me - to play a character that becomes a character they have already played. For me, that personally bonded well. This is where magical things happen in acting and directing.

This is a show that is a good combo of actors and stars. While you have a Piyush Mishra, you also have a Gauahar Khan and of course, you. So, what was it like, working with them?

You are very right about that. There were times when I got goosebumps on the show and there were other times when I would wonder who is that person. That was interesting because when you have a veteran actor, you learn the scenes from observing them but a younger person who is acting for the first can also give you surprises. That's very raw and unexpected also. That is also something I noticed when I came on the set the first day - that there's a big range of experience here. Everyone in our cast is very accessible and approachable. Nobody acted like a star. Everyone had their own personality but acted like regular people. Even though Piyush ji, Gauahar and Divyendu might be in different places in their career today but they're all self-made actors. None of them were born into films. They all started from the scratch. That's a very different attitude and it's so cool to see how they haven't forgotten to be regular people. We never had that distance between us. You spend 16 hours working with these actors so by day two or three, you spend more time with them than someone you would've known for years.

Anything from the sets that you took back home?

That happens with everything you do. This show has a lot of scenes where the whole family was together a lot. First, I have scenes with just one actor. That is a very different kind of acting. That conversation is more intimate and there's a different kind of energy. This show has a lot of moments where everyone is together. It's very interesting to find the balance and dynamic when there's no star in that particular scene. While it was a different range of experience, the people were very respectful, even to people who were acting for the first time. There was a lot of patience with those people. It's how we treated each other. It's a very intense drama. When you act with an intense team, it is 10 times more stressful than what was happening in real life. You have emotions to put out in real life. We had to gain emotionally after those scenes.

Do you believe that every actor will get a fair opportunity in the series? Because there are so many and not everyone could have that much space.

When an actor says yes to a role, they already know how much space they have, right? So, when you get surprised when your role has been cut, that's a bad moment and is very heartbreaking but in this case, everyone had a script and knew exactly how much screen space they have. Also, there's no small role or a small actor. You can do a lot with one scene that people come and do with 5-10 scenes and not make any impact. One person can come and blow your mind with one thing. I wouldn't say everyone has the same role because every track doesn't begin with episode one. Some people come mid-way and others at the very end. You see that difference. I haven't seen the show at this point so I don't know if everyone has an equal role but I can say that it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I'm just counting the intent and the impact my character has on the story. Sometimes I'm offered roles where I'm there from the start to end but I ask whether my character will change. If the answer is yes, then the character is good and that's all that matters.

Your upcoming projects?

I've shot for the final season of What The Folks and it will release in a few months. I also shot for Crackdown season 2. I also have a short film. I wrote a film which will also release this year. I'm not acting in it but it's a big release for me.