Actor Indira Tiwari has garnered praise for her turn as Oja in Sudhir Mishra directorial Serious Men. The film is streaming on Netflix.
Actor Indira Tiwari says the first time she got the script of Serious Men, she kept reading it the entire night out of excitement. An NSD passout, Indira has grabbed attention with her turn as Ayyan Mani‘s wife Oja in Netflix film Serious Men.
“I’ve earned relationships from this film – be it with the audience, Sudhir sir or Nawaz. That made my performance sensible and believable,” Indira said in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Everyone is searching for the actress who played Oja in Serious Men. How does it feel?
This was my first major work after NSD. So I was very excited about its reception. The first three days after the release was unbelievable. People from the industry who I look up to are sending me lovely feedback. People are also asking me questions related to the film and my process. I like interacting with the audience directly. It only encourages me to work even harder.
How did you come onboard?
I used to do freelance theatre in Bhopal. I got selected for NSD in 2015. In the midst of that, I worked as a child artiste in Aarakshan. I got my first film called Nazarband (2019) with Suman Mukhopadhyay, that got selected for 2020 Busan Film Festival. Serious Men was my third film.
I had come to Mumbai to audition for a TV show, which I was not interested to do. I happen to meet a friend from Delhi, who works as a line producer here. He gave me the number of a casting director and said, if you’ve come to Mumbai, at least meet him. Soon after, I received another call from Mukesh Chhabra’s company. They said they have a role in a film. So in case I was interested, I should give it a shot. I auditioned for it the next day. I think they were looking for an actor for a really long time and I was destined to get the part.
What was the audition scene? You have completely transformed yourself for the film.
My audition scene was where I burst out in anger after getting to know the truth about my husband. It was written in the script that I go and slap my husband several times. I did not know the entire story, but I enacted as much as I could understand. The casting guys just told me she is Nawaz’s wife Oja. Those who took my audition – Deeksha and Devendra were very patient with me. Later, Sudhir sir said we should stick to the way I looked in the audition – all scattered.
Actors dream of working with Sudhir Mishra, and it happened so early in your career. How was the experience?
Sudhir sir just knew I belonged to NSD. So in our first meeting, he asked about my background and what I understood about the character. He told me to research for it. So, I went around the city to observe people. Generally, directors ask the newcomers to first get relaxed around big actors. But Sudhir sir instead directly put me in my first scene with Nawaz. He made me realise that I’ve come here as a professional, which helped in boosting my confidence. My first scene was where we go for the Wonderkid event. We kept discussing and improvising every scene after that.
You once posted a picture from NSD featuring yourself and Nawazuddin, and wrote that your dream is to work with him. Finally, it happened. Tell me more.
(Laughs) I met Nawaz in NSD twice. First, it was a group photo where I cropped myself with him and hung it in my room, with the aim of working with him one day. The second time he came to NSD, I told everyone to let me have a solo pic. Later, it felt like the universe conspired to get me a chance to work with him. You liking someone as a fan is a separate thing, but if you aren’t able to balance his aura and energy and do good work, there’s no point. I never felt nervous in front of him because he made sure I was comfortable. If both Sudhir sir and Nawaz had kept considering me a newcomer, that fear would’ve always remained whether I’m performing well or not.
The film is an adaptation. Does it become easy or difficult when your part is already sketched within a framework?
I had read the book. But when I got the screenplay by Bhavesh Mandalia, it was so intricately written. All we had to do was absorb it and perform. His writing was so strong and layered. Also the way Sudhir sir was executing the scenes, I did not feel any need to add my inputs.
The film is a witty yet powerful satire, touching upon so many things. As an artiste, do such things become risky to portray?
When you are producing art, you do fear how it’ll be received by the audience. But the way Sudhir sir treated the film in a light manner, putting in everything he’s observed in life, there was no possibility of anything going wrong.
You think it would’ve been a different feeling if Serious Men had a big screen release?
Big screen or web isn’t the concern. Point is how many people watch the film. On the web, more people will keep watching it with good word of mouth publicity.
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