Tisca Chopra, who asserts that she’s always looking to do something exciting alongside acting, be it scripting, producing and directing short films or writing a book. Now, she’s ready to go one step up and make her directorial debut on the big screen.
So, you are all set to direct a feature film now? Will it be easier given that you’ve directed a short film, Rubaru, earlier?
(Laughs) I will be able to answer that only after I finish the film. But yes, Rubaru, my first directorial, was exhilarating, even though it was a short film.
It was like an Elon Musk out-of-space experience. It made me realize how much I enjoyed telling stories, piecing them together, frame by frame. It is like going down a rabbit hole, cutting yourself off from everything else, and losing yourself in this world that you are creating.
The work is very demanding as you have to supervise the actions of multiple characters, keep an eye on the temperature of each scene, and see that it fits into the narrative that you are building. I will be on tenterhooks, and not just because it’s a murder mystery.
You wrote this script too, what can we expect?
If you liked my first short film, Chutney, you will like this one too.
Did you write it during the corona virus-triggered lockdowns?
No, I wrote it a while back. But I had put it on the back burner after the first and second wave of the pandemic hit us. Now, they are talking of a third, so I have no idea when I will get started. But it still interests me.
You’ve written two books too, Acting Smart: Your Ticket to Showbiz in 2014, and What’s Up With Me? which was released this March. Started working on the third?
No, even though both my books have done very well, I think I’m done with writing books. At least at the moment I think so. (Laughs) It’s easier writing scripts.
With Chutney in 2016, Chhuri in 2017 and Rubaru in 2020, you entered the OTT space with these three short films long before others. Would you say you are firmly entrenched now?
What is entrenched? I wouldn’t know since I don’t think in those terms. Being an actor teaches you to live in the moment and I’m looking to do something exciting, from one day to the next.
What I can say in all honesty is that I haven’t had to look for work to that extent. I have gone up to people whose work fascinated me and told them it would be wonderful if we could collaborate on something. And after six months, a year, two years, they have come back with a proposal.
But you would agree that OTT has given talented actors like you plenty of new opportunities?
I am platform agnostic. For me a role is a role, irrespective of whether it plays in the theatres, on television or on a streaming platform. I give every role my sweat and blood. I’m always thinking how it can be done better, wondering if I should take a class or learn Kalari.
I feel happiest when I am striving. And since a series is the equivalent of four to five films, you get to know your character really well and are able to dream their dreams. That’s an actor’s paradise.
How is a web series different from a big-ticket Bollywood film?
Well, for one, you don’t have to worry about cashing in on the first weekend to make it a viable proposition. Even if the series doesn’t start well because the audience is focused on something else at the time, it could pick up the following week through favorable word-of-mouth and by the third or fourth week, it could become a hit. This way, content is allowed to breathe, to grow.
And you don’t have to worry about putting a song here or an interval at this point. That’s quite liberating.
During the lockdown, did you get a chance to do something you always wanted?
Well, I took several online master classes. It’s something I had always wanted to do, but never had the time before.
Your husband, Sanjay, who is a writer too, and you are also collaborating on a show, right?
Yes, we are part producers on a geo-political thriller.