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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Harman Baweja is in a happy space after his impressive act in Hansal Mehta’s Scoop

Six-part web series Scoop also features Karishma Tanna, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub and Prosenjt Chatterjee

Ratnalekha Mazumdar Calcutta Published 13.06.23, 04:54 PM
Harman Baweja as ACP Harshvardhan Shroff in Scoop, streaming on Netflix

Harman Baweja as ACP Harshvardhan Shroff in Scoop, streaming on Netflix Netflix

Actor-producer Harman Baweja is finally happy. He often catches himself whistling while walking down the corridor of his house, even as the congratulatory calls are pouring in from friends and peers for his brilliant turn as top cop ACP Shroff in Hansal Mehta’s Netflix series Scoop. While he doesn’t want to change anything about his past, Harman is excited with the new lease of life that his acting career has got and about being a new dad. The Telegraph Online caught up with Harman on life post-Scoop.

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The Telegraph Online: How has it been since the release of Scoop on Netflix? Has it sunk in?

Harman Baweja: I am very, very happy and thankful to people who have been very gracious and forthcoming. I am grateful for the opportunity. It’s been a long time coming. (Smiles) It feels nice and beautiful.

You must be overwhelmed with all the feedback on the show and your character ACP Harshvardhan Shroff…

Harman Baweja: Honestly, there’s a lot of excitement. I catch myself whistling while I am walking through the corridor of my house (laughs). My wife pointed out that I don’t realise that I am happy somewhere deep within and it kind of filters into everything that I am doing.

You had your share of rough times. How’s the family reacting as they stood by you the whole time?

Harman Baweja: Of course, seeing my father (Harry Baweja), mother (Pammi) and sister (Rowena) happy is a wonderful feeling, as we have been a unit all our lives. It’s great to see my father happy. When he had set out to make the film (Harman’s Bollywood debut Love Story 2050), I am guessing this is what he had hoped for. It didn’t happen then but it’s happening now.

I am as happy but the happiness that your family gets out of you is a lot more. They are the silent support system. They never voice anything till it’s right. They are voicing their happiness now. I have been blessed with a baby boy recently. My wife (Sasha Ramchandani) didn’t experience my previous innings, if I may call it. For her, it’s all quite new. It’s a great atmosphere. I am loving every bit of it.

How did becoming a father make an impact on you?

Harman Baweja: All my life, I have heard from my friends, my cousins and family members that it’s the best thing to happen to you. I have seen them unable to go out at night. I would think — really, is this the best thing? But when you have your own, you say the same. It’s an unmatched feeling. He has started to squeal. The amount of happiness we get when he squeals! (Smiles)

Do you feel you have become wiser, calmer and a better actor over the years?

Harman Baweja: It’s the same world out there that it felt back in the day, but it feels different now. So, the change or the evolution required was for me more than the world. Maybe being away for so many years has made me aware, grow and assess the shortcomings that were there in the past. The failures I have had in the past, I wouldn’t want to change because they led me here today.

You are unrecognisable in Scoop, mostly due to the physical transformation…

Harman Baweja: To be honest, there’s a natural physical transformation that I have had as Harman, and when Hansal (Mehta) wanted me to do the part, he wanted me to look a certain way, which was relatively closer to me. This is why he saw a character within me, which isn’t the prim and proper super fit me of the past. It was also about embracing the character, like the grey hair. Vanity wasn’t in play for me at all. I didn’t even know how I looked. I let myself be real to the character.

From your performance in Scoop, it seems that you were under no pressure and you wanted to do it for yourself. Is that so?

Harman Baweja: Yes, I did it for myself. Hansal has drawn me into acting again, so I decided to be at ease and relax. I have never been so relaxed on a set. I never thought what it would probably look like. That’s why so many people didn’t realise that I was in it. I thought if it works out, I will be happy and relieved and that’s how it worked out for me. The idea was to let things happen on their own.

The character of ACP Shroff is complex with multiple layers. What were your discussions with director Hansal Mehta to make the character so close to reality?

Harman Baweja: What really drove me, and what I felt kicked about the character, was his job. When you work for 15 to 20 years, it’s another day at the office. On the other hand, he’s very complex. His relationship with his son, which I thought was very interesting, or whether it’s Jagruti (Pathak, a journalist, played by Karishma Tanna) or his peers. More certainly, the health issues that he is facing. The constant cover-ups that he is having to make… somewhere deep down, you can see that he isn’t happy about it. He feels he has pushed it a little too far. The complexity of the character with the ease of the man juxtaposed against the power position he is in — that was the primary agenda of my discussion with Hansal about how to get it right.

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Hansal Mehta is known for his directorial process. Tell us how he gets the best out of his actors.

Harman Baweja: Hansal has a process and it’s so sublime that you won’t even know he has a process because he won’t come straight at you and tell you that this is how you should do it. He will create the right atmosphere on the set, and right before your shot, he will say it very subtly. You know how to explore, thinking it’s yours, but eventually you will realise that it’s all him. It keeps you more relaxed. I was not bound as an actor. He leaves it open, so you can explore. I have hardly seen the monitor while shooting. I had left it to Hansal. If he is okay, I am okay. I know when I am feeling it but if the director can’t, then it’s not right for the scene and won’t translate for the character.

Among all the tough scenes, which was the most challenging to shoot?

Harman Baweja: There’s a scene, where I go aggressive with Jagruti Pathak and tell her that if she wants something from me, then she should also have to give me something in return. There’s a reaction when she calls him out, gets up and leaves. There’s a moment by himself. For me, it was very important because after whatever is said and done, he is grey, and he is pushing the boundary but there’s some amount of compassion and guilt left in him.

I felt getting that right was important because he isn’t the bad guy, or the predator, or someone who has made an advance towards a girl. He also realises that he has pushed it too much in the heat of the moment. That guilt and remorse were very important to give to him and I am happy it came out, as it was tricky.

There’s been a paradigm shift in the last five-six years in terms of production with the pandemic and the streaming platforms coming into play. Many things that were unwelcome in the past are being accepted now. As a producer, what’s your observation?

Harman Baweja: I don’t want to change anything about my past. Abhi toh bahut acha hai! (Smiles) Yes, there’s a lot of opportunity for the diaspora and the different stories to find a content distribution platform. It just really helps as there is so much talent out there. It’s amazing that the medium allows you to be flexible and experiment, to push the envelope and try something that can’t be mainstream but if done correctly can become mainstream. One can go out and explore. We are going through a transitional phase and eventually, there will be a new normal soon. There would be a time when there would be a perfect balance between theatrical releases, streaming platforms and television.

You are inactive on social media. Is it going to change soon?

Harman Baweja: I have been writing and producing. My son takes up my time, which I am very excited about. Social media is an art. People who are doing it well, hats off to them. Never say never but I am not cut out for it. I go to an office, come home and be with my friends and family.

Have you started getting offers?

Harman Baweja: It’s too soon. I am getting calls from friends and peers who are surprised and happy for me. Let’s see how it pans out. As for the studios, I am happy with the writing and the producing space I am in right now.

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