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Gurfateh Pirzada, Anjali Sivaraman chats about their young adult Netflix series

Both the actors share their experience on being a part of the series Class

Priyanka Roy  Published 24.03.23, 01:16 PM
Anjali Sivaraman in Class, Gurfateh Pirzada in Class

Anjali Sivaraman in Class, Gurfateh Pirzada in Class The Telegraph


Class targets the young adult audience. Compared to the West, that’s not an audience that many Indian shows speak to...


That’s right. I think that’s because it’s risky. I don’t think our society had been ready for a show like Class but someone had to make it eventually. What is shown in Class is not something that doesn’t happen around us. I hope we can take it up a notch further in the next season. Had you watched Elite, the original Spanish show which Class is a remake of?

I had watched a bit of the first season a few years ago. I felt that the original was too on the surface and I couldn’t connect with it much because I am not aware of the socio-economic culture in Spain in which Elite is set. To be honest, Elite also looked like it could have been set in any country.

Why I liked Class better is because we picked a place like Delhi where the difference between the have and have-nots is very stark. Also, casteism and the Hindu-Muslim divide are strongly expressed. That’s what makes us stand out compared to the original.

What was your approach towards playing a volatile character like Neeraj?

Firstly, I sat with my director (Aashim Ahluwalia) and tried to figure out what he wanted. We also had an acting coach on board. I took training for my dialect because the way I talk and the way my character talks is very different... there is a very thin line and as an actor, one stands the risk of going overboard and really messing it up. There is also the danger of inconsistency, which could throw off the audience.

I also studied the antecedents of the Dalit community in India and why the situation in the country is the way it is and how (B.R.) Ambedkar changed it and what his ideology was. I also researched societal conditioning and why the scheduled caste and tribe reservation prevails. I needed a good understanding of all these things because if I don’t understand it, I can’t play it on screen.

How do you prep for a character, particularly with respect to Neeraj in Class?

I am a student of method acting. That is something I tap into whenever I play any character, apart from my experience in theatre. I prep as much as I can and delve into my character before I go into shoot. Once I am there, I just surrender to my director. I know my lines and I know my prep, but at that point, I just drop everything and go with the instinct of trusting what my director tells me. That’s also what I did for Neeraj.

Guilty was your big break two years ago and you had Brahmastra: Part One — Shiva last year. How has the journey been so far?

We all have a blueprint in mind about what we want to do with our careers, but unfortunately, the trajectory doesn’t go as we had planned. Brahmastra was a project that I got into when I was 21. It seemed like a huge thing and presented a chance to get a foot in the door with people I wanted to work with, which was essentially Dharma (Productions).

Brahmastra helped me interact with the people I wanted to work with and it’s always good to see oneself on the big screen. I know that certain people have an interest in working with me and getting me on board as and when they plan a project.

Dharma Productions had announced Shanaya Kapoor’s debut film Bedhadakand cast you opposite her. That project is said to be on the backburner now. Will it eventually get made?

It will eventually happen but you know what the state of movies (releasing in theatres) is now. I never believed in launches anyway and I was never looking for one. I believe that every film has its destiny and this one has its own. It is delayed and it will be delayed for a bit and maybe happen next year. I am not thinking about it because I have other work to do now. A recent performance that stayed with you? I watched Farzi recently and I think Shahid (Kapoor) and the whole cast is amazing. I particularly liked Bhuvan Arora. I also liked Aditya Roy Kapur in The Night Manager.


What worked for you in Class?

I think it’s the way in which the show handles a lot of sensitive issues that we don’t generally address well, if at all. It’s very nuanced. I like how it’s respectful and hard-hitting at the same time.

What was your understanding of your character of Suhani?

She is a misunderstood child who is trying to find her place in this world. She tends to get lost because she latches on to things on the way that give her some sort of comfort. To play her, I went back to my childhood and relived a lot of my school years. That helped me understand where she was coming from. I had shifted from a public school to an international school and it was a bit of a culture shock for me. I did draw on the experience of feeling like an outsider to play Suhani. Sitting down with the director to discuss my character development and drawing from the experiences that my friends and family have had also helped.

Like Suhani, the character that you played in Cobalt Blue is a rebel. Did you find any parallels between the two?

Yes, in the sense of both being very strong-minded, independent women. Both are very strongly opinionated and firm about their beliefs. They tend to go after what they want, no matter what the consequences are. But Anuja in Cobalt Blue and Suhani in Class have a different approach when it comes to achieving their goals. Eventually, both of them are very righteous and relatively misunderstood.

What does being an actor mean to you?

I experience pure love and joy whenever I perform as an actor. I think acting really appeals to me because it gives us the ability to touch a person’s soul and to influence and impact people, in whatever shape or form.

Which was the first film that had a huge impact on you?

That would be Titanic. I loved the film so much that I named my first teddy bear Jack! It was Titanic that made me grow up loving the idea of love so much.

Do you think your unconventional looks will hinder you when it comes to bagging parts in a profession which still suffers from stereotyping?

It has happened to me. When it comes to my looks, I am neither here nor there. I am not south Indian enough, I am not north Indian enough! (Laughs) It has been an issue from time to time. I am hoping that as I do more work, people look beyond that and realise that I can play a variety of characters.

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