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Exclusive! Anurita Jha: There's no one hero and one heroine on OTT

Anurita Jha is coming back to Aashram season 3 as the silent but strong spectator, Kavita.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 03.12 PM, Jun 01, 2022

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Exclusive! Anurita Jha: There's no one hero and one heroine on OTT
Anurita Jha.

Prakash Jha’s Aashram has many people seeking revenge and most of them use words and actions to convey what they feel. In the midst of that is a character people cannot really figure – Anurita Jha’s Kavita. She is back with the third season of the show and while revealing details about her character, Anurita also talks about what made Aashram and OTT special for her.

Excerpts from the interview…

You have been an important part of Aashram but more like the silent woman who is hiding many secrets. Will these secrets, your secrets, ever be revealed?

If you see season 1 and 2, Kavita has seen the transition in Aashram - the power shifting. There's a reason for me to become silent. I had ran away as well, if you recall. I had no option because I'm a widow and my family has totally abandoned me in the name of Baba Nirala. For a female like Kavita, who has nowhere else to go, she has to silently take everything that is thrown at her because she has no other option. In season 3, though, you will see a lot of hope. You'll see a love life maybe. Kavita's character will always have that fear because once you through so much in your life in an aashram and see that every aspect of the sevadhaar and sevadhaarni's life is controlled by the Baba, it takes a lot of guts to step out or revolt. Yes, Kavita is constantly supporting Pammi and doing something in her own way, which you will see in the new season.

We are seeing this transition but it took a lot of time. Baba Nirala brought Bobby back in the charts as an actor. It opened up many opportunities for him. As a co-actress and someone who has the role of a silent but strong spectator, did you ever see the character in her full glory as the story progresses and that giving you the time to finally shine as much as him?

If you take out any character from Aashram, whether Pammi, Babita or Bhopa, everybody has their own colour and journey. My character stands out as silent because others are speaking. If I was also speaking constantly and expressing like the others, I wouldn't have to doubt. Many actors told me that I speak through my eyes, which is one of the difficult jobs an actor can do because when you speak, people will actually listen. When you express silently, you carry everything on your face, body, mind and emotions, which is tougher a job.

Yes. I'm trying to understand if we will see Kavita finally speak up like the others do, even if through actions?

Working with Prakash Jha was a big opportunity for me. Words are not very relevant when it comes to acting. You look at the world cinema. Not everything is expressed through words. Even the really nice makers really believe in holding on to an emotion because there is some beauty in that.

I'm really happy that a director looks at me that way - that I can portray things even without dialogues. In the first two seasons, I was a reflection of everything happening. I would see Pammi and Babita being taken to Baba Nirala. I was silently watching that, which has its own charm and beauty.

My family was asking me, when everybody is happy at the Aashram, why is Kavita so sad? I told them that they should watch out for Baba Nirala in order to know the real story.

Kavita have been with Baba the longest, so we automatically expect her to know some dark and deep secrets...

Yeah. Actually Kavita is not power hungry. Babita has that somewhere. She has her own revolt but Kavita has nothing else to do. She has nowhere else to go, so there's some hope for her in season 3.

We actually thought Pammi might fight for Kavita...

Pammi is definitely fighting against it. Actually, every female in Aashram is complimenting her struggle and trying to help her. They are power-hungry but somewhere, knowingly or unknowingly, they are still helping Pammi.

Did Aashram success help your career in any way?

Absolutely. For me, it has brought me back. I did Gangs of Wasseypur and then some commercial films which were not successful but very critically acclaimed. Then, I had personal issues. My health was not good so I took a break. Aashram definitely brought back me being a good actor and choosing roles for myself. Everybody wants to work with Prakash Jha sir. Who does not? Sometimes your stars align. Lockdown happened, Aashram became such a superhit and other projects also happened. So it definitely helped me tremendously because every citizen of India has watched it.

The people also helped. They appreciated my role too. There was a lot of layering and it brought the focus back on me as an actor. People started talking. I have done other projects which I will talk about soon.

A decade back, you made you debut with Gangs of Wasseypur. That is the time when OTT was very rare, maybe a YRF released an episode or TVF released a show but that was about it. It was for fun. Now this a full-fledged platform which gives people opportunities. So, would you agree that people who would otherwise get lost in films because of star power, they get recognized on OTT because here, content holds power?

I feel everybody wants to watch stars. If you see The Fame Game, it is working because of Madhuri Dixit-Nene. I have seen the series twice because I love her. Their charm is never-ending and we cannot take away from that.

With OTT, there's no one hero and one heroine. There are characters who build up the story or storyline and journey through nine-10, episodes which can not be held on to by one actor. There needs to be substance to hold the audience for 45 minutes and that means many characters. Hence, web series on OTT platforms have really helped not only me but a lot of good actors who have never seen the light of the day just because they were only cinema being made for films. In movies, there's a hero, heroine and a few supporting actors. When it is a web series, every character has their own shade and longer screen space. That gives so much of exposure, which is such a beautiful thing. It's wonderful for actors like me. I'm very happy.

Again, as I said, in today's day and age, many superstar films have flopped because the content was not good. So I think people really have to come out smarter and they want to see good content. Panchayat has such a simple narrative but still, it did very well because it had something unique, simpler and connected to the roots. Content is the king in today's day and age and how it is directed combined.

So, you're telling me that whether in films or on OTT, people want to see content, right?

Content is the king, yes. If you talk about a Marvel film, they have their own fan following. Those who watch Batman will watch The Batman. In India unfortunately, we do not have such branding where people have crazy fans. That is what is lacking. If an Avatar is coming, even I'm waiting to watch it. So, it is a franchise that people knew will be made in a beautiful way and we want to watch it. If something like that is created, then people are hooked on to it.

A good cinema experience is still a good cinema experience. Big screen has its own charm. We are cinema people. OTT has definitely given technicians and actors much more opportunity to be visible, explore and experiment.

You have seen two projects that have put male actors at the forefront. One was your own debut project GoW, which put Manoj back in limelight as an actor and the second part helped Nawazuddin gain popularity. The other project, of course, is Aashram, which is again about Bobby Deol. While we strived hard and saw some revolution in films where women take the screen and shine brighter than the men (examples like Vidya Balan, Rani Mukerji), do you think that trend will continue on OTT and get stronger?

Whether female-driven or male-driven content, the content has to make sense. It has to reflect to the society, what needs to be changed in the future or mistakes from the past. What I'm trying to say is, we don't need a trend but yeah, if there is more good content, that is good for everyone. When a common woman watches these things sitting at home, she gets some hope. There are a few projects which are going to be totally female-centric. It is about housewives who have excelled in their business. There are filmmakers who are doing such projects so I hope that I also get such a strong and powerful role.

Of course, there should be more content on women. They run the society. I'm generally saying that a mother shapes up a child's mind. That's how films should also be.

Your upcoming projects?

Rocketry - R. Madhavan's film which went to Cannes. I have a very important web series which was one of the most successful in the first season. Apart from that, I have Thai Massage, produced by Imtiaz Ali. The film stars Gajraj Rao. There is a web series called AK-47 based on how AK-47 was launched in India. I have spoken Bihari on the show.

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