Thursday, June 20, 2024

Karisma Kapoor on her upcoming series ‘Brown’: ‘It resonated with my personal experiences’

Karisma Kapoor in a still from ‘Brown’

Karisma Kapoor in a still from ‘Brown’

Known for essaying colourful characters, Karisma Kapoor returns to acting in the role of a tenacious but pill-popping cop out to catch a psychopath in the upcoming series Brown. Fighting alcoholism, loss, depression, and the demons they create, her character of Rita Brown wants to remain relevant in her career and life.

Karisma recently made heads turn at the Berlinale where the series, directed by Abhinay Deo, was screened in the market section. “The character is so raw and human,” avers Karisma, as she discusses her return to the screen after a long hiatus. “I was looking for something that is creatively satisfying. Apart from the crime drama where Brown is investigating the brutal murder of a girl, we are touching upon a subject that is not normally dealt with on screen.”

Karisma describes the ZEE5 thriller, based on Abheek Barua’s moody, morbid novel, City of Death, as, “The inspirational journey of a woman who is worn out and beat up. She is going through a lot but still turns up when the situation demands her. The moral of the story struck a chord with me as it resonated with my personal experiences. Life has ups and downs but you can deal with and come out of it.”

Karisma Kapoor returns in a raw, realistic avatar in Abhinay Deo’s crime thriller

Karisma Kapoor returns in a raw, realistic avatar in Abhinay Deo’s crime thriller

Acting, she says, is all about observation, and she drew a lot from her life and those around her. “As always, I bounced ideas off Kareena and she came up with suggestions.”

More importantly, the series set in Kolkata has an Anglo-Indian backdrop, with Soni Razdan playing Karisma’s mother. Few know that Karisma’s maternal grandmother was a British who married a Sindhi. Soni was also born in London to a British-German mother.

Karisma describes it as interesting casting and says Brown’s relationship with her mother reminded her of her bond with her mother Babita, a popular actor in the 1960s and early ‘70s. “My mother’s first question was, ‘Oh! You are playing a character who is addicted to smoking?’ But then she is an actress and understands the demands of a role. Like Soniji in the series, my mother is still concerned about whether I have eaten well after a long day at work. No matter how much trauma Brown goes through, her mother is always with her. It is a lovely relationship.”

On the long break after Dangerous Ishq, Karisma says it was a choice she made. “I have always followed my heart more than my head. I started working at a young age and wanted to take a back seat, chill, and give time to my kids. I didn’t want to go to a film set for 100 days, leaving my family behind. I was happy doing it.”

Karisma’s character, Rita Brown, battles alcoholism, loss and depression in the series based on Abheek Barua’s novel

Karisma’s character, Rita Brown, battles alcoholism, loss and depression in the series based on Abheek Barua’s novel

She admits, meanwhile, things have changed in the industry. “For better, I must say. These are great times for actors as you could do commercial stuff as well as play a nuanced character in a streaming series. For the first few days, it was a challenge. There were a lot of workshops. The kind of detail that goes into creating a character these days was not there earlier.”

Having said that, Karisma is quick to point out that she shot simultaneously for Shyam Benegal’s Zubeidaa and David Dhawan’s Biwi No. 1. ”At that time, there were only a few directors who held workshops and allowed the actors to prepare for the character. On the set of a David Dhawan film, you just had to go there and deliver. It was also tough to maintain that energy level and comic timing.”

‘Rebirth of an actor’

Like Karisma, Brown director Abhinay Deo, known for light-hearted stuff like Delhi Belly, is switching genres. “We have dug deeper into the psyche of the characters of the novel to reflect how damaged people can be, and that damaged people need not be on the wrong side of society.”

He says Karisma is the right actor to externalise what is essentially an internal journey, “She has not done such a de-glamourised role before. She, along with Soniji and Helen madam, looks the part of the Anglo-Indian setting, and like any good actor, was keen to draw from her personal space to give shape to the character.”

After spending years in mainstream Bollywood that is often driven by cut-to-cut emotions, Abhinay says the actor was keen to mould herself to the demands of a slow-burn. “It is a kind of rebirth; she was as excited about the challenge as we were.”

She still cherishes memories of working with Govinda with whom she acted in 11 movies. “It was a wonderful time as we had such great camaraderie. We don’t talk every day but do exchange fond memories whenever we get to meet.”

Reflecting on the excessive darkness that is creeping into the content, Karisma puts it down to the audience’s taste. “I like what people are responding to these days. I will do whatever touches my heart; it could be of any genre,” she sums up.

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