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Paatal Lok actor Ishwak Singh: It’s a trance when you get a part like Imran Ansari

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Written by Mimansa Shekhar
| New Delhi |

Published: May 23, 2020 7:52:58 pm


Ishwak Singh’s turn as Imran Ansari in Amazon Prime Video’s Paatal Lok has received a lot of praise. (Photos: PR Handout)

Amid the noteworthy cast of Amazon Prime Video’s Paatal Lok, one character that grabs eyeballs is Imran Ansari, played by Ishwak Singh. Ansari is a soft-spoken Kashmiri Muslim, who is a new recruit in the police department and the right hand of Jaideep Ahlawat’s Hathi Ram Chaudhary. In fact, Ansari is the yin to Hathi Ram’s yang.

In a candid chat with indianexpress.com, Ishwak opened up about landing his breakthrough role in Paatal Lok, approaching his character with sensitivity and how a theatre background helped him.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Q. You are literally the second lead in Paatal Lok, and we got to know that only after watching it. Were you prepared for the audience reaction?

An actor doesn’t have control over publicity and marketing, but I wouldn’t do it any other way. It’s been presented just in the perfect manner. I know Ansari is a very important character, pretty much like the second lead. They (Hathi Ram and Ansari) are both heroes, solving the case and have the virtues in the right place. It’s not like a character is tagging along. He has his own identity, background and has a beautiful relation with Hathi Ram. So I felt amazing right from the time I got the script. A lot of people told me it’s our favorite character because it’s so endearing. It’s a trance when you get a part like Imran Ansari.

Q. Ansari shares a beautiful relationship with Hathi Ram. How do you see that?

The overall writing is so intelligent. The character has so many dimensions to it – his personal crisis, identity, religion, professional ambitions. His relationship with Hathi Ram changes from a mentor to a friend to a parent to a sibling. When you are doing these scenes, things come to you organically, and you kind of start seeing the other person like that instead of a character.

Q. How did you come on board Paatal Lok?

We had a very rigorous casting process. I got a call from Casting Bay and I auditioned for it. Then a month passed and I thought maybe the part has gone to someone else. But then again they called to audition. In the audition room, some magic happened. We enacted the Principal’s room scene. We did Kabir’s interrogation scene. We did multiple takes. I went prepared and so it just came out very beautifully. Then instantly in a week’s time, I got a call that I have been locked.

jaideep ahlawat ishwak singh paatal lok Ishwak Singh and Jaideep Ahlawat in a still from Paatal Lok.

Q. You play a righteous cop who believes in the system. How did you plan out the character before getting on the sets?

You don’t plan how to act, but you do create a thinking process. You create another person in you in terms of his mind, heart and soul. I read some books on what it really means to be an Indian Muslim today and books about Kashmiris, just to give it a certain background. I interacted with some Kashmiri Muslim friends. So, I know what their journey has been. But then you sometimes ask yourself why am I doing this, why am I making such choices. The writing is the target. You need to push yourself to get there. That’s why I went to read these books and identify with the Jamuna Par Thana, which is one of the busiest police stations of Delhi and located somewhere in Mangolpuri. In fact, a documentary has been made on that, and exactly the word “keede” has been used in it. There are heavy crimes there and every investigating officer has more than 50-100 cases on him. I went there and hung out with those people to understand the vibe at the police station, to recreate those moments between Ansari and Hathi Ram. Like I realised some people take this as a government job while some people have this passion for policing. So Ansari also has that dimension.

Q. Your character gets targeted several times because of his religion, yet he sticks to his moral compass.

It’s so interesting that in a place like this, where he’s in a position of power, in a subtle way, he realises that he’s being othered, being treated as an outsider. We all have felt marginalised at one point or the other in our life. So we approached it at a very human angle. For me, it is part of a larger issue, judging people on the basis of their appearance, caste, religion.

Q. What was the most difficult scene to shoot?

I have seen such things happening around me. I think empathy is very important for acting because then you can identify with the other person’s space, and that is something you can make part of your performance. The thought behind the scene where Hathi Ram interrogates Kabir and makes derogatory remarks against Muslims, while Ansari refrains from reacting, was something I learnt while interacting with the police. You do things to physiologically break the accused. So Ansari knows these things happen. He knows it’s part of the job.

jaideep ahlawat ishwak singh in patal lok Ishwak Singh is an architect-turned-actor.

Q. How much do you think your theatre background helped you?

Acting is acting, be it on stage, street or screen. The foundation is the same. Over the years, I realised that it’s only about adjusting your performance in terms of realising whether its a close shot or far shot, more audience or less audience. Also, adjusting your voice and tone accordingly. Of course, it’s not that simple and takes a lot of practice and understanding in terms of how you do that. You perform a play in a linear manner, but when you shoot a movie, you may start with the last scene, then you go to the middle, then shoot the first scene on your last day. So if you practice theatre constantly, you can develop a great sense of character graph. And at a very granular level, you are able to pick up the nuances and the variations that the character is going through.

Q. Now people will remember you as Ansari and not as Sonam Kapoor’s fiance from Veere Di Wedding. Is that a good change?

(Laughs) Every character is dear to you, and I take pride in all the work that I have done. I also have a lot of faith in the industry. I have no complaints about why I got smaller roles before and a big role now.

Also read: Jaideep Ahlawat on Paatal Lok success: We were shocked for initial two days

Q. How are you taking all the female adulation coming your way at the moment?

It does make you feel extremely good that people, including girls and boys, are liking you. Another reason why it’s amazing to be an actor in India more than any place else is our audience gives so much love. I am flooded with fan messages. They have actually picked up some really intricate points of the performance. They are hungry for good stuff, so when you are giving them something authentic, they really give you a lot of love.

Q. Finally, did Ansari manage to clear the UPSC exam?

(Laughs) I am also waiting to find out!

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Irrfan Khan’s wife Sutapa shares emotional note, writes ’till we meet again’

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By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: May 30, 2020 9:49:10 am


Irrfan Khan had passed away on April 29 this year. (Photo: Sutapa Sikdar/Facebook)

Irrfan Khan’s wife Sutapa Sikdar shared a note remembering the actor after a month of his death. Sharing photos of the Angrezi Medium actor, Sutapa wrote, “‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.’ It’s just a matter of time…milenge baaten karenge…. Till we meet again.”

Irrfan passed away on April 29 after a long battle with cancer.

Earlier, Sutapa Sikdar had written a beautiful note talking about her journey with Irrfan.

“It’s difficult to explain what a wondrous, beautiful, overwhelming, painful and exciting this journey has been. I find this 2 and 1/2 years to have been an interlude, which had it’s own beginning, middle and culmination with Irrfan helming the role of the orchestra conductor, separate from the 35 years of our companionship, ours was not a marriage, it was a union,” the note read.

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Aligarh Writer Apurva Asrani Reveals he And His Gay Partner Pretended to be Cousins For 13 Years to Rent a Home in Mumbai

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Writer Apurva Asrani, known for writing and editing Manoj Bajpayee‘s Aligarh, came out as a homosexual on Twitter on Friday. The popular writer posted a picture of himself posing with his partner named Siddhant and wrote a beautiful note alongside. He revealed how after pretending to be cousins for 13 long years, they have finally bought their own home in the city. Apurva said he and his partner hid their identity for many years because they were asked to not let their neighbours know that they were a gay couple. Also Read – Film Editor And Writer Apurva Asrani Questions Akshay Kumar’s Eligibility For National Award After Calling Canada His Home

Apurva talked about normalising an LGBTQ family in India. Posting the picture of their apartment’s nameplate that read ‘Apurva and Siddhant’, the writer wrote, “For 13 years we pretended to be cousins so we could rent a home together. We were told ‘keep curtains drawn so neighbours don’t know ‘what’ you are’. We recently bought our own home. Now we voluntarily tell neighbors we are partners Two hearts. It’s time LGBTQ families are normalised too.” (sic) Also Read – Apurva Asrani slams Kangana Ranaut after another credit controversy with ‘Manikarnika’

Apurva is a national award-winning editor who was appreciated for editing a bilingual film called Snip!. He also claimed to have written Simran (2017), directed by Hansal Mehta and starring Kangana Ranaut when the actor said she changed the entire script of the film and also got the credit of being the additional script and dialogue writer. Apurva is also known for editing Satya (1998) and Shahid (2013). He also edited Zoya Akhtar’s web-series Made in Heaven (2019).

Apurva has been one of the most significant voices for the LGBTQ community in the film industry. His approach towards bettering the world and making it more inclusive also reflects in his writing, especially in Aligarh which is based on the life of a professor who’s sacked from his job on the basis of morality after it’s revealed that he’s a homosexual.





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Top 10 thriller movies of all time

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Written by Kshitij Rawat
| New Delhi |

Published: May 30, 2020 8:36:34 am


Here are 10 great thriller movies. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Much of the world is currently stuck indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe in a matter of mere months. The good part is, there is a lot of entertainment available in terms of movies and shows.

Thrillers are a genre where stories involve the worst of humankind: psychopaths, cannibals, serial killers and so on. In short, there’s a lot of excitement and suspense to look forward to. Here are 10 great thriller movies to watch during lockdown.

1. No Country for Old Men

Joel and Ethan Coen’s dark, brilliant adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s iconic novel of the same name captured the spirit and essence of the source material even if it was not too faithful to the source. Javier Bardem is breathtaking as psychopathic murderer Anton Chigurh, who is entirely devoid of a conscience.

No Country for Old Men Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

2. The Silence of the Lambs

A spine-tingling watch headlined by Sir Anthony Hopkins’ sadistic cannibalistic serial-killer, The Silence of the Lambs has elements of both thriller and horror, and straddles both to great effect.

3. Shutter Island: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name is about two US Marshals played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, who arrive on an island that houses a facility for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of an inmate. The film is known for its thwack of an ending that changes the way the viewer looks at the whole story. It is an otherwise well-made film as well, with stunning cinematography, performances, background score, writing and, of course, direction.

4. Zodiac: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

zodiac Robert Downey Jr and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac. (Photo: Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros)

A David Fincher directorial, Zodiac was based on the infamous serial-killer Zodiac who terrorised the citizens of San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s. The film starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Brian Cox and John Carroll Lynch among others.

5. Misery

Kathy Bates misery Kathy Bates gave a stunning performance in Misery. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

Author Stephen King based Misery on his personal nightmare that a passionate fan would abduct him and make him write what they want. The movie is arguably even better, and Kathy Bates is absolutely fantastic as Annie Wilkes, a psychotic loner.

6. Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic remains watchable as ever. And the twist still creeps the hell out of those who have seen this movie dozens of times.

7. Seven (stylised as SEV7N)

David Fincher’s crowning achievement, Seven sees Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman partnering up to catch a murderer who kills according to Christianity’s seven deadly sins. Seven streams on Netflix.

8. The Prestige: Amazon Prime Video

hugh jackman and christian bale Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in a still from Prestige. (Photo: Warner Bros)

Christopher Nolan’s last film before he became a global household name with Batman Begins, The Prestige stars two of the best ‘star’ actors Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Set in late 19th century London, two magicians turn from friends to bitter foes with their rivalry ending in the greatest trick of them all.

9. Don’t Breathe: Netflix

hush Kate Siegel and John Gallagher Jr in Hush. (Photo: Netflix)

Three kids break into a blind veteran’s secluded house, thinking it would be an easy job to just go inside and pick up the cash. If the old guy wakes up, knock him cold and run away, is the plan. They are in for a really, really nasty surprise. Don’t Breathe is a thriller verging on horror.

10. Hush: Netflix

In this relentlessly paced film, a deaf and mute author living in a remote spot has to fight a psychopathic killer. The lead actress (Kate Siegel) does a superb job in portraying the agony of a woman who has to survive alone without the two senses; she cannot hear him coming and she cannot scream for help. Director Mike Flanagan fully utilises the intriguing premise.

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