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Exclusive! Shriya Pilgaonkar and Varun Mitra: It's a grey area! It’s tricky to comment on the censorship of OTT platforms

Shriya mentions that she is waiting for a chance to work in a light-hearted rom-com film.

  • Sunidhi Prajapat

Last Updated: 09.37 AM, Apr 26, 2022

Exclusive! Shriya Pilgaonkar and Varun Mitra: It's a grey area! It’s tricky to comment on the censorship of OTT platforms

Source: Instagram

The series Guilty Minds on Amazon Prime Video was released last week and has been receiving positive responses since. The courtroom drama stars Shriya Pilgaonkar and Varun Mitra as young lawyers, Kashaf and Deepak respectively. It chronicles their arguments against each other in court and being friends outside the courtroom.

OTTplay caught up with both the actors to talk about their latest venture. Shriya and Varun shared their experience of working in Guilty Minds. The actress also mentioned that she would love to do a light-hearted rom-com film, while the Jalebi actor expressed his views about the censorship on the OTT platforms.

At the beginning of the trailer, it seems like a comedy crime drama, because of the fun banter going on between you two but later, it becomes quite serious. Shed some light on it.

Shriya: I think that is what makes the writing of Guilty Minds very interesting and the complete credit goes to the writers for this. We have one case in every episode and at the same time, there are the personal lives of these lawyers. I think we wanted to make a show wherein people not just enjoy the engaging aspects of good courtroom drama but also get a glimpse into the world of the personal lives of these characters. Sometimes, you find yourself in situations where the personal and professional lines are blurred and in circumstances like that, what happens to your equations and dynamics? I think the show does not just deal with a lot of intensive emotions, in terms of the cases, that range from copyrights, to water issues to crime to something from the Bollywood industry, that's going to be very interesting for people to watch.

Shriya: My character, Kashaf is quite stubborn. She comes from a family of lawyers. So, she comes from experience, but at the same time, Kashaf wants to take up cases that are driven by empathy. Her entire joy in her profession stems from wanting to give a voice to people. But Deepak comes from a different school of thought. Both of them have been friends and have respect for each other. But when it comes to being in court, we do see how these are different personalities. I think initially, perhaps, our understanding of how lawyers are and how courts are, has been a lot based on what we've seen in films and series. Here, we have tried to be authentic, not just in terms of the look and feel, but also in terms of creating the personalities of these people. We have such brilliant actors in every episode, from Girish Kulkarni to Sonnen Verma, playing judges, witnesses, lawyers, you're going to see a variety of people. At the end of the day, you are just seeing different human experiences. It's beautiful. It is scary. It is dramatic and that is exactly the world we want to show.

What has been the most challenging part about playing your characters?

Varun: For me, I think it was just keeping up with that energy. Deepak is a very energetic and passionate guy, he's on switched on mode all the time. I am a bit more lazy kind of person. So it was really exhausting to play him and to keep that energy. Shefali (director) won't like me to sit in peace, she'd make me jump before every take. That became a thing because she was like come on, let's up the energy and then when I realised what I needed to do, I used to bounce around the set like a monkey, trying to just energise my own body and many times, interfering with other people's creative process, if I might say so. It was not the hard part. But it was something which was not me.

Varun, you mentioned that this is that your character is completely different from you. But is there any similarity between your character and your personal self?

Yeah, I think that Deepak has a very statistical mind which I think, I do. I have a tendency to look at everything in a very practical manner. Even though I'm super emotional, it's the statistical side of me that is very strong. I think it's slowly who I have become over the years.

Shriya, what has been challenging for you in Guilty Minds?

Shriya: Kashaf and Shriya are quite different from each other in a lot of sense. Firstly, the similarity I think is that both of us are very passionate about what we do. We both operate a lot based on emotion. We are very protective of the people we love, and the people we love are our strength and weakness. In terms of the differences, I would say that as a person, I am quite expressive and open but Kashaf is somebody who does not let people in easily. She doesn't trust people very easily and because of certain instances in her past, she has become a very private person. In the show, we see Kashaf actually confronting her demons and that is a very important part that we see wherein she has to always find this balance between her strength and vulnerability.

Shriya, you've been seen in a lot of crime dramas and more serious kinds of stuff lately. Has it been an intentional decision or you have become comfortable with the genre? Would you like to explore other kinds of shows and films too?

As an actor, you want to be able to do all kinds of things. In fact, this year, I have other stuff releasing. There will be a comedy that will be coming out where I'm playing a butcher. Then there are two other series, one in which I'm playing a sex worker.

I feel like the genres could be anything but I always want to do something different with the characters I am playing. Personally, I would love to do a nice rom-com, I don't know who's making them to be honest. Can we have enough light stuff? But even in Guilty Minds, there are so many shades that you'll get to see, for example, this may sound silly, but I've never had a chance to dance on camera before in a series. And, in Guilty Minds, Varun and I get to do this really fun salsa sequence, which was so exciting for me. It's just nice when you get opportunities where you can do different things and express yourself as an actor in different ways. This is why Guilty Minds is very important show for me.

Varun, you haven't been very active on screens lately. We have seen you in a very few shows and movies. So would you say that you take time for the right project to come along?

Last, I worked in Jalebi and it didn't work theatrically but people liked it when it came on OTT. I think I also just took some time. What happens is that when you're new in this line of work, you don't really know who you are. In that sense, you don't know what to do. And you get influenced when people tell you what you should and should not do and how you should do it. I think it takes long for all of us to arrive here and to do good work. It's the journey of not just actually finding what work but also finding yourself. You'll have to do certain projects to understand what you like and what your sensibilities are. Once you're sure, you know what kind of work you want to do and what makes you happy. So yeah, there was a conscious decision to not take up anything, which I don't feel extremely strongly for.

What's your take on the censorship on OTT platforms?

Varun: I'm torn within myself about this. One part of me says that we should be allowed to express ourselves with our stories the way they need to be told. When this whole censorship topic came on, my immediate reaction was that come on, if we're not going to be able to express ourselves this over here, then what is the point of even trying to be creative with it. At the same time, it's a very thin line, and I don't even really know which side of it I am right now.

Shriya: I feel people can always identify the context. But today, a lot of decisions, of course, are made out of fear of people, making a big deal out of things, you know, 'sentiments' and when one goes down that road, it is endless. You're then trying to safeguard everything. You have to pick your battles. I still believe that creators get a chance to at least make 90% of what they want to make. They compromise on 10% out of fear of getting into unnecessary controversy or misunderstandings. So just like Varun said, it's tricky. It's a grey area.

People are expected to express themselves and tell stories the way you want them to tell them. And, when one set of people starts taking offence, then another set starts taking offence too. It's an endless circle, to be honest. So I don't know about these standards, like who decides what should be censored or not. I think it needs to be considered in a contextual way more than generalised rules.

Tell us about your future projects.

Varun: I have a film releasing this year, which is backed by RSVP. And I have another web series with Maddock. Both are not announced by the makers yet.

Shriya: I have Season 2 of Crackdown and Gone Game coming up. There are three upcoming series, which have not been announced yet. One is comedy and another one is about the world of news reporting and the last one is packed with drama and comedy.

I haven't done a light-hearted film, so I would like to do a rom-com, if given a chance.

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