In a candid chat with OTTplay, Ekavali talks about how she bagged the offer of Kohrra, her experience, and why she thinks that the Bengali film industry does not explore her skills.
Ever since the release of Kohrra on Netflix, Ekavali Khanna’s phone is constantly ringing. “I do not have a lot of screen time in the show but I never thought my character will be loved so much by people. I am getting calls constantly. I am grateful,” she tells OTTplay. In a candid chat with us, the actress from Kolkata talks about how she bagged the offer of Kohrra, her experience, and why she thinks that the Bengali film industry does not explore her skills.
Ekavali was asked to go through the process of auditioning. “I auditioned twice and they send me another bit for auditioning again. After the third audition, I got a call from the casting director and finally, I was in. What I liked is the fact, on the same channel, I play an urban, sophisticated, Harvard-return businesswoman. In Kohrra I am a widow in a small town in Punjab. In a turnaround of a year, I played two opposite characters. I am thankful that the casting director saw that in me. That is what talent hunting is all about and there will always be a difference between a casting director and a casting facilitator. And with these two roles, I also feel that I have accomplished versatility. I learnt and I gave all I could to learn more,” says the actress.
Ekavali was thoroughly briefed about her character, Indira. “It was an in-depth brief. I was told about Indira’s background and I also kept on asking questions. I treated the character as an opportunity to learn. There is an intimate scene and I was briefed in detail about it. I think each actor deserves that respect. That was a moment of vulnerability for that character,” she says.
Does Ekavali relate to her character, Indira? “I don’t think so. My world is very black and white. I am the type who tends to avoid the grey shades. That’s how I am aligned. India is layered and complex. I am surely not like her,” says the actress.
Also read: Kohrra review: Suvinder Vicky, Barun Sobti's excruciatingly slow whodunnit is much more than a usual murder mystery
According to Ekavali, Kohrra’s production team is a well-oiled machine she has worked with. “This is not just in India but across the world. The creative team is super. The preproduction was immaculate, the writing is solid and a lot of credit goes to the director. He is calm and explained every bit to the actors. He is not complacent. Also, having fun at the workplace is not important to me. I want to do good work. Indira is not an easy character to play. She is full of mixed emotions. The writers and director helped me throughout to understand the character. They were there all the time for me,” she says.
Ekavali hails from a Punjabi-Goan family and grew up right in the heart of South Kolkata. From critically acclaimed Memories of March to Raj Chakraborty’s Katmundu and others – the actress has worked on a number of Bengali projects. However, she admits that the Bengali entertainment industry has failed to utilise her talent adequately. “I have been cast as a Bengali woman across the country, but not in Kolkata. I grew up roaming around Gariahat. I am a Bengali by heart. I speak, write and read Bengali and yet, I barely get any offer of a Bengali character. I accept it with grace. What to do? I cannot go and plead for work. I get a lot of respect from the entire industry. In fact, I must admit that this city (Kolkata) helped me to bring up my children as a single mother. My coworkers and friends kept on asking about my children and I am grateful for that. I have a lot of love and respect for these friends. But that did not translate into work. I have worked in projects across the world but less in Bengal,” she said. Does she think Kohrra may change the game now? “We’ll see. I live there. People know I am an actress. Acting is my bread and butter as I don’t earn from appearance fees and social media promotions. I have remuneration for my acting time. If there is an independent film or a reasonable offer, I talk out the remuneration. But I look for a substantial script. I just worked in Arindam Bhattacharya’s Durgapur Junction with Bhebli (Swastika Mukherjee) and Vikram Chatterjee. If I get offers, I will work,” says the actress.