Monday, March 4, 2024

‘More than words, silence and pauses sometimes explain more’

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Tejal Sinha

Arshad Warsi and Barun Sobti-starrer psychological thriller Asur has been one of the most popular shows. The first season of Asur garnered a devoted fan base, thanks to its gripping storyline and outstanding performances by Arshad Warsi and Barun Sobti. The show expertly weaved together the mysteries of mythology and the enthralling realities of forensic science, creating an irresistible combination that kept audiences on the edge of their seats.

Now, Asur 2 has captured the hearts of fans and viewers across India, solidifying its position as a top-rated web series. Audiences are captivated by the show’s legendary signature track, spine-chilling lyrics, and soulful beats, as they embark on a journey through the mystical ghats of Benaras and witness the powerful portrayals by the talented ensemble cast, featuring Ridhi Dogra, Anupriya Goenka, Amey Wagh, Meiyang Chang, Abhishek Chauhan, and Gaurav Arora. Today, we have with us Oni Sen, director of the second season of Asur 2, taking us through the making of the show.

“It is overwhelming I must agree, and we were honestly a little worried because season 1 was successful, and when doing season 2 we were not sure if it would work or not, will people accept it, we were also trying to change it a little bit. There’s actually a lot of difference in both the seasons so keeping all that in mind, the fact that most people didn’t get disappointed and loved it. It’s a great reward for all the hard work and the efforts.”

Taking you through a little flashback, set in the backdrop of the mystical city of Varanasi, Asur follows Nikhil Nair (Barun Sobti) , a forensic expert turned teacher, who returns to his roots at the Central Bureau of Investigation, and along with his former mentor Dhananjay Rajpoot (Arshad Warsi), finds himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a brutal serial killer. Asur is basically about the darkness of somebody’s mind because it’s all in the mind and somewhere down the line connected to Indian Mythology. So the filmmaker says, “What we did in Asur 1 is that the mythology, the narrative, the emotional graph of human being and of course the thrill we had entwined it in such a way that nothing seemed superimposed on the other. The mythology was an integral part of the narrative. With Asur 2, we wanted to continue the same way but the difference was in Asur 2, but there are actually two differences; the scale of changes in a big way scale in terms of how Shubh approaches his entire game that becomes really big, and Asur 1 dealt with the emotional and personal graph of three characters essentially DJ, Nikhil, and Shubh. Then in Asur 2, we expanded that canvas a lot more we work with a whole bunch of other characters, investing in them and taking the narrative forward, therefore Asur 2 became a lot more complex narrative. In Asur 2 we try to keep it as relevant to the time as possible. Technology became an integral part of Asur 2.”

The shooting of the second season had its own ups and downs since it had all taken part during the pandemic, with all the precautions and masks on. And you would agree with us that this season had surely done justice to the previous one, keeping everyone hooked on to the screens.

Moving ahead as a filmmaker, he believes that to invest in the human character. Elucidating more on it, he says, “Anything that we like watching, the event stays with us for a little while, but after that, they fade so it is the human character and its narrative. Words stay with us for a long. In Asur 1, we tried to do the same thing. In Asur 2, the challenge was a bit more but again we tried to invest a lot in the emotional journey. So, therefore, the entire part of what they’re doing, the events, we managed to make the viewers empathize and feel the characters, and that is where one felt more engaged.”

Oni enjoys the most when the actors are non-acting, and be themselves. For Instance, he already had a clear picture of the characters of DJ, and Nikhil. While one can never imagine Arshad Warsi as a serious character, he has aced his character of DJ. And in fact, Oni describes Arshad as a ‘chameleon’. “He can be anything. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done a lot of stuff like this, but he actually is he was amazing in order to stay in the character and not to smile, show your darkness and show the nature and quality of your mind. I think they both were really fantastic.” Meanwhile, going with Barun’s character, he says, “Nikhil is the character who is a very simple good boy, but his mind you know his mouth speaks faster or rather his mind speaks faster so he constantly talks fast. His mind is fast. He has a brilliant mind, sometimes his body cannot keep pace with his mind, and when I spoke to them, they were actually with it. Barun is actually the kind of person who speaks faster than he thinks. Sometimes he thinks faster than he speaks. So it was amazing fun to chat with him and all. I told him to be just himself and not be anybody else.”

Oni as a filmmaker believes, “More than words, silence and pauses sometimes explains more. So I keep trying to remove lines and try to see how it would work out and sometimes it does work beautifully, and sometimes it backfires.” He further explains this with a scene where Rasool was in the interrogation room but there was one particular scene. Where there was Rasool in the interrogation room and there was Nikhil who is sitting in anger. “It was just before the shoot that it struck me, what if they don’t say a word to each other, and what if one can’t see the other? So there was actually this gamble, which worked out very beautifully. I think small gambles sometimes work well. (he giggles).”

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