Mimi and Bareilly Ki Barfi are the kind of films that Nupur Sanon - who just made her OTT debut with the Disney+ Hotstar comedy series - would want to do
Nupur Sanon made her OTT debut with the new comedy series ‘Pop Kaun?’ on Disney+ Hotstar
After clocking millions of views for her music video Filhaal, opposite Akshay Kumar, Kriti Sanon’s sister Nupur Sanon finally marks her entry in the OTT space with the new Disney+ Hotstar comedy series Pop Kaun?, directed by Farhad Samji. She has made her acting debut with a show that features industry legends like Johny Lever, Saurabh Shukla, Rajpal Yadav and the late Satish Kaushik, alongside Kunal Kemmu, Chunky Panday and Ashwini Kalsekar, among other actors.
In a candid conversation with OTTplay, Nupur - who will also be seen opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Navaniat Singh-directed film Noorani Chehra later this year - talks about her fond memories of Satish Kaushik from the set of Pop Kaun?, how she tackles her comparisons with Kriti, why she thinks the digital medium is most aligned with the audiences’ choices, her role models in Bollywood and more. Excerpts:
Q. Pop Kaun? marks your acting debut. What is your biggest takeaway from being part of this series?
A. I think comedy is a tricky and difficult genre. A tough nut to crack, rather. I never thought that I would make my debut in this space. And then, I got picked for Pop Kaun?. I think there was a knot inside me that just opened up because of working with all the legends in the series. What I have learnt from them is that you really shouldn’t have any inhibitions when it comes to comedy. In terms of comedy, you have to be all out there and you have to be super real, because if you’re not genuinely real and in that moment, the audiences won’t laugh. And also, I felt that comedy is something which can be either your 100% or it’s zero. There’s no in-between. So that’s my biggest takeaway.
Q. You got the opportunity to work with industry stalwarts in the series. Any special learning from them or anecdotes from the set that you treasure?
A. There are many anecdotes - both onscreen and off it. In fact, my favourite scene in the show is with Satishji. It’s a memorable one, because I was so surprised to see his humility. When we used to rehearse the scene, his approach used to be like ‘tujhe kya lagta hai, isme kaise karna chahiye?’, ‘tu kaise karna chahti hai?’. He used to ask me questions and take my input. And that used to really surprise me, because he is so experienced and so good at what he does and I’m a newcomer. So for me, it was quite surprising that he really thinks that I can add to this. He was so giving, and he also wanted to take that energy from me.
With all these seniors on the set, what I realised was that although ‘hum log bache hain inke samne, hum log newcomers hain, but aaj bhi agar dekha jaye toh, when it comes to acting, yeh log sab se jyada jawan hai’. They want to give their best. With Johnny sir, there came a point when he started calling me ‘Nups’ and I started calling him ‘Joe’. After his scenes, even if I was not in the room, he used to literally shout out my name. And when I come he would be like, how was the scene? Ja monitor jake dekh? Was it good? And I used to be like, ‘sir, you don’t need me to validate whether you were good or not. Of course, you were good’. But they’re craving to perform better, even at this age. It’s so amazing. And the one big thing that I learnt from all of them, something I really want to imbibe in myself somehow is the sense of security that all these guys have, when it comes to one another. Aaj-kal ki generation mein, youngsters usually do not feel so secure among their peers while working in the same space. I don’t know hum mein se kitne log ek ensemble cast mein saath mein kam kar payenge with the sense of security that these guys have. Yeh log ek dusre ko aise openly bol dete hain. For instance, Johnny sir would say arrey Rajpal, yeh teri timing, I’m very jealous of this. They are so open to each other about such things. So, I think that sense of security also comes from their craft. So, that is something I would want to imbibe.
Q. You acted with Satish Kaushik in his last series…
A. I feel very honoured to have worked with Satishji. We never thought that this would be the last that we’ll see of him. The other day I was talking to Kunal and I said ‘agar dekha jaye toh, woh jate jate bhi sabko hasa ke gaye hain’ and that’s the man he was. He always had that smile on his face. If you imagine Satishji’s face, you would imagine him smiling. So yeah, I’m just blessed that I got to share screen space with him. I, personally, have so many one-on-one scenes with him. My most favourite scene from the series is also with him. I got to learn a lot from him.
Q. Filhaal did so well and now you have also made your acting debut. Would you like to continue doing music videos or rather concentrate on films and shows?
A. When I decided to go on board with Filhaal, it was because this wasn’t the regular music video that we used to have earlier, where girls used to get stereotyped. My intention even when I started out with Filhaal was that okay, it has the scope of showing my acting skills as well. It had the scope of showing the emotions that I can put forward. So, for me, even at this point, if a music video like Filhaal comes my way, where I get to act, perform and show emotions in those five minutes (I think that’s also a different kind of challenge when you don’t have dialogues and have to just emote, take the rhythm and the beat of the music and kind of go with it with your emotions), I would definitely want to do that as well. But my intention for all my projects is to pick roles that are meaty enough to show my talent.
Q. What is the kind of role that you would like to do on screen? Any role model apart from your sister Kriti?
A. When it comes to role models, there are lots of them, actually. I absolutely love Kareena Kapoor Khan. I also feel Kangna Ranaut is an amazing actor. I like the kind of characters she has played in films like Queen and Tanu Weds Manu. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a very big commercial grandeur. It could also be like a smaller script and smaller set up, but a challenging role.
Again when it comes to my sister Kriti, I love the kind of roles that she’s played in the recent past, like Mimi. This film and Bareilly Ki Barfi are the kind of movies that I would want to do. It’s like a drama, but with a mix of emotions. There are scenes, where that are very challenging and then there is a lighter bit to it, where there’s comedy.
Q. You have said that you would like to do meatier roles. So, what’s your take on the female gaze in narratives?
A. I haven’t been fortunate enough to work with a female director, as of now. But yes, I feel if a woman can definitely understand a woman better, because that’s the life we all have lived. There are certain challenges, ups and downs and stereotypes that all women have experienced, and we all know that. So, definitely a female director or a writer would be able to understand and step into a woman’s shoes way better. But at the same time, I feel there are a lot of male directors as well who can understand that.
I think it’s all about your mentality, how open you are about things and what your perception is about how a woman in this century should be. I think it’s a culmination of all these things. For instance, in Mimi, which is closest to my heart. But I feel Laxman [Utekar] sir has managed to take out so many shades of a woman, of a mother, in the film so well. That also shows the mentality and the kind of openness and approach that the man has. So, I really feel that it all depends on your mentality and thought process.
Q. It’s evident that Kriti is quite supportive of you. Does she also advise you on what you should pursue next in your acting career? As the big sister, does she critique your work as well?
A. I am yet to put out things for her to see and critique my work. Meanwhile, I have been her biggest critic. After coming back home from screenings, I used to always sit down for a session the next morning and tell her honestly what I felt, scene by scene. So I think, this is her time now to get back at me. That said, she is definitely my most honest soundboard, and I know that whatever I get from her will be honest. Even if I feel bad, if she doesn’t like something, she will be truthful about it, because eventually she wants me to grow from here.
However, when it comes to giving an opinion, or how much of an influence she has on me in terms of making my choices, I think it’s very little. We both kind of give each other an individual space to make our own decisions. Of course, if there’s something that I feel I’m not sure about and I want a second opinion from someone whom I trust experience-wise as well, it is Kriti.
But even if she tells me that she doesn’t feel I should do something, but my gut tells me that it is good for me, I would do that because I feel that Kriti and my individual journeys are very different. She started with a big-banner production for a film, I started with a big music video. So, we both acknowledge that too. She understands that no matter how experienced she is in this industry, she won’t really be able to get into my shoes as well as I do, because it is, of course, my journey.
Q. But do comparisons with Kriti bother you?
A. During the first Filhaal music video, maybe it did bother me. But by the time I did Filhaal 2, I kind of realised that it’s very petty of people to be comparing and pitting sisters against each other. That’s what I think. As actors, if you want to compare, you can do that with a zillion other people. Don’t compare me with my own sister, who is so much more experienced than I am, because that’s not a fair bet. She has been in the industry for the past eight years. If you want to compare me with someone, it should be with someone who’s at the same starting line. There came a point where I realised that this is not something I should be bothered, and that is what my approach went on to become. Kriti and I are two very different people. Of course, we are sisters, so there are a lot of similarities too. But out and out, our thought processes are poles apart and that reflect in our choices.
Q. Do you think OTT has been a game-changer for the entertainment industry in India? What’s your take on it?
A. Kudos to whoever thought of getting the digital platforms out there. OTT is a space where content definitely is king. You are kind of serving the audience fully, as their interests and choices are considered. Currently, OTT is a platform that is the most aligned with what the audience likes and wants, in terms of their content and scripts and all that. At the same time, I feel it’s so refreshing to see such new faces, because of OTT. So many talented people, who weren’t getting the opportunity to come out in the theatres, because they were either new or still unknown, and no producer was willing to bet their money on their talents, are now getting the opportunity to showcase their talent. I think finally OTT has managed to counter that problem. And now because these artistes are shining on OTT, they are getting more offers and also coming out in theatres. I think that’s amazing.
Q. Do you think social media has brought stars closer to their audience now?
A. Definitely, social media has brought stars closer to their audience. But I have a two way thought process when it comes to this. I feel a lot of the content on social media that is put out by actors and actresses and other people from the industry is really good and should help them in connecting with the audience better. But, at the same time, sometimes a lot of people are also overexposing their talents on social media as a platform, which probably the audience is actually looking forward to watching on OTT or in the theatres. There’s a thin line to it. If you overexpose yourself, your only connection would be on social media. Why would the audience come to watch you on screen, if they are getting everything out there on social media? So, there should be some sort of a mystery that should be maintained. Certain talents are not meant for social media, they are for the bigger screens. So, they should be reserved for that.