Ira Dubey got candid about Potluck, Aisha, Dear Zindagi and her upcoming projects.
Ira Dubey, who has been a part of various big-budget projects like Aisha and Dear Zindagi, is currently seen in Sony Liv's web series Potluck. The actress, who once again does not play the lead protagonist on the show, discusses the changing scenario in the film industry. She also talks about the benefits of OTT streaming.
Ira also spoke to OTTplay exclusively about how she believes theatre is the only platform which brings out her acting talent but unfortunately, it's not 'exploited enough'. She also spoke about how Potluck is similar to The Modern Family and what her future looks like.
Excerpts from the interview...
People best remember you for your role in Aisha. It has been over a decade since the movie was released and while you have worked on many projects, they didn't leave as much of an impact as the film, probably because of the commercial aspect of it. However, times are changing and now people are appreciating art cinema too. In such a time, do you see a show like Potluck, which doesn't feature a big star per say as the lead face, being accepted by the audiences?
Yes, of course. I'll never live it down. It was a very iconic film.
100%. People are accepting such shows. The star system is breaking down. I love cinema and the magic of the big screen. The formula films won't disappear but at the same time, because of the advent of OTT space and exposure to a world-class level of technical and creative talent, the content has become extremely diversified. In that regard, if you portray the real world as it is, it becomes a very natural choice.
In many ways, Prerna (played by Shikha) is the protagonist of Potluck. She's the narrator of the story. Protagonists can be there but ensembles are still very much reflective of the evolution of the industry and writing in particular. The formula format is a thing even in Hollywood. There's a protagonist and everyone is just around that person. However, that is shifting and audiences are becoming very accepting of it.
What was it like collaborating with Rajshree again after a decade?
It was really nice. There was a level of trust and comfort that came on sets automatically. I had a bone to pick with her. Cyrus, me, the three kids and Rajshree were the first to start shooting. We had very long and heavy schedules. I would look at her and convey that I know why she has done this. It was a very gruelling shoot. Hats off to her to get the episodes done in 18 days. She was a real bull when it came to work and shooting. Her mother was with her in Delhi. They would have breakfast together. I love that there were such wonderful and strong women on sets.
Times have really changed. Women are getting more and more of a voice. All the women in the show are very strong in their own ways and bring a lot to the table. Working with Rajshree was lovely, easy and comfortable. We had a lot of trust in each other and yet it was amazing to see how she would push us to perform better. Though it was manic, it was also fun. I had four kids on the show, Cyrus being the fourth one. The learning from Potluck was staying alert and being very patient.
Did you guys discuss the second installment of Aisha on sets?
Oh my god! I think it's very much her space. If there is a second installment, I definitely will be a part of it but it has never come up. It's a great idea though. We have to move onwards and upwards, Shaheen. New things.
Even though you played one of the most pivotal roles in Dear Zindagi, do you think you went unnoticed because of SRK and Alia's star power?
The thing is, I come from a theatre background. I'm a black horse, who is here to stay. I intend to produce and direct as well. Acting isn't the last stop for me. Everything has a time and place. I did that film to work with Alia, Shah Rukh and Gauri (Shinde). It was a great experience and good fun. I have fond memories of that film. It was also very well-received and deals with a subject that's very important. I wanted to be a part of that subject. I knew from the get-go that it wasn't a life-changing role or unforgettable performance. As an actor, I'm very lucky because I'm very fulfilled with the work I do on stage. Plays are where I can show you the skill and capability of what I can offer you as an actor. For whatever reason, that's not been exploited enough. I have lots of time left to do wonderful things and acting will continue.
I produced a short film in the pandemic and acted in it. Naseeruddin Shah plays my father in it. If I ever get to a stage where I feel I can't sink my teeth into something and am not getting interesting parts, then I might take up something else. I'm always developing my craft but this industry is a slippery slope. Rejection and evaluation is a part of the industry and thus, it's a tough business. I don't bother about these things.
You have been more or less sidelined in the Potluck trailer and you aren't even immediately a part of the crazy Shastri family. So what made you say yes to the project?
It wasn't deliberate. It's about the family - the Shastri's, right? So they will obviously take the centre space. Me and Saloni are the only outsiders on the show. It wasn't intentional.
Out of the blue, Rajshree reached out to me after a decade. So I was touched by that. I was happy that two women approached me for the project. When I heard about Akanksha, all I thought about was that we don't often see a family dramedy done very well. That to me was a big hook. There's a lot of content on OTT but everyone is saturated with more dark and violent stuff.
Seeing what has happened to people during COVID-19, everyone has started valuing family and relationships. Thus, it just felt relevant to work on a family show. The humour in this slice-of-life family drama comes out quite beautifully.
Coming to Akanksha, I thought it was interesting to live the life of a married woman with two kids. She makes her own choices, wants to work and make her marriage work too.
The cast also pulled me towards the project. Working with Cyrus has been such a delight. He's one of the funniest men I've met in my life. It's never a dull moment working with him. The show has a very talented bunch of actors.
Sometimes, when you do an episode, you wonder how it will go. However, that feeling never came with Potluck. The producers smartly put us all together for three months so we practically were doing the daily chores under one roof. It's how we bonded as a family.
You come from a theatre background and we all know how powerful they are when it comes to acting. So tell me, when you are part of an ensemble project and have to be on the screen with sometimes more than two people, how do you make sure that people notice you?
It's not outwitting or being competitive. When you play a family, that happens organically. When you see the siblings in Potluck, you will realize it. I don't believe or feel that actors need to compete. If you're in the moment and true to your character, then you'll shine no matter what.
Is the Dubey family anything like the Shastri family?
110%. Even crazier.
People loved the first glimpse of the show, mainly because it is less drama and more slice-of-life...
Very well observed. In fact, even Cyrus was stating that picking up kids from school is a normal day-to-day thing. It's not a drama.
They have also compared the show to Gullak…
I haven't seen that show so I really can't comment about that. If you really want to know what this show is about, then you can look at The Modern Family or Schitt's Creek. It's in that space. The family dramedy space has not been explored, so it's a fresh concept.
Talking about The Modern Family, they too had a drama king in Cameron Tucker. Can we expect that kind of personality in Potluck too?
If you really want drama, that is where the concept of Potluck comes into play. The show is a mixture of things. Everyone has got their own quirks.
You took your next step by turning a host. Is there anything else on your mind apart from acting and hosting?
Producing is on my mind very much. I'll continue acting. I have a production house of my own. Eventually, I would love to direct as well but that's a long-term plan.