Team Oh! Mother — Bidipta Chakraborty, Anirjit Roy and Bibriti Chatterjee — recently got together to talk about Season Two of the fun web series at The Chaiwala on Southern Avenue. The second season of Oh! Mother streams in Bengali and Hindi on Addatimes from today. Excerpts...
Tell us about your roles this time...
Bidipta: In this season I am a grandmother. And the parents keep the baby with me while they are out partying.
Bibriti: My character Diya is someone who is very different as a girlfriend and different as a daughter-in-law. She is a very nagging, irritating girlfriend. In this season, she has become a mother but she hasn’t matured enough.
Anirjit: I feel the character’s more real this time.
What was the difference when you approached the role this season?
Anirjit: Saurav’s (the character he plays) life takes different turns as he has a job now. He is terrible at it but he has a very supportive boss. But there are certain reactions and expressions that are typical of him... those remain unchanged.
Bidipta: Through this web series, now I know what teenagers do to get high! Now I have a better idea of what teens could end up doing. Now the kids won’t be able to fool me... I will see right through their trick. Season 2 will be more weird than the first one. My character has a good-for-nothing husband at home whom I keep insulting. When I first heard the script, I was rolling with laughter.
There were intimate scenes between the two of you (Anirjit and Bibriti) in Season One. How awkward was it to shoot those?
Anirjit: The workshops helped. That salvaged it.
Bibriti: Also we became friends, so we used to laugh most of the time.
Anirjit: When you are working, it shouldn’t be a problem. Also Shaket (director) helped us to be comfortable.
Bibriti: This particular set was also very chilled out.
Anirjit: I have learnt a lot from Shaket.
Bidipta: He is like my son. He has been working with Birsa (Bidipta’s husband) for many years now as his associate. I have seen him grow up. So when he thought of working independently and came to me with the script, I was very happy. He is very intelligent and focused.
In the first season, there’s this line — ‘Your generation has no self-control’. What’s your take on it?
Bibriti: One can debate it.
Anirjit: I think it’s very relative. It varies from person to person. I could say Saurav might not have self-control but I might. It’s a character trait. He gets Diya pregnant and hence the line is being said. Saurav makes a mistake, faces the brunt of it. He is, in fact, still facing it. I won’t be judgmental about it until and unless I know the truth.
Bibriti: If someone wants to exercise self-control, he can. This generation is very focused.
This season is also about raising kids, as Diya has a baby...
Bidipta: I am taking care of their baby (laughs). I am trying to make the baby cultured, taking the baby to audio drama events. Since I have a daughter, I know how to handle kids. But I must tell you that this baby was a sweetheart. Generally, it’s difficult shooting with infants, they have their moods and sleeping times. But this baby is so good. There’s this one scene where I am potty-training this baby and the baby poops on me. I shriek and surprisingly, the baby comes up with an amazing expression. That was my biggest preparation — how to be friends with the baby.
Like the 2007 Hollywood film Juno, this series deals with teen pregnancy. How do you think has this issue been portrayed in Indian films?
Anirjit: The teen pregnancy issue is there in the plot but the series is a comedy. The theme of comedy has been used to shed light on the subject.
Bibriti: The mother-in-law gives shelter to the pregnant girl. It shows her support.
Anirjit: That was one of the reasons for me to take up the role. The woman drives her son away from home for getting the girl pregnant... that for me is very progressive on the part of the woman.
Bidipta: The issue should be dealt with in a sensitive manner. Teen pregnancy is quite common nowadays. It should not be a hush-hush thing or be a subject of taboo. In this web series, the issue has been dealt with in a nice way. Because when this woman finds out that her son has got this girl pregnant, she stands by the girl and supports her. The mother’s character is truly modern in that sense.
This time it’s dark. We have scaled it up. We are not binding the story down to just one room, we are going everywhere with it. You will see people hallucinating and going to very weird places. Lots of imaginary places everywhere whereas the earlier season was more real
director Shaket Banerjee on the second season of Oh! Mother, which streams on Addatimes from today
We come across a lot of cuss words and bold scenes on the digital platform. Do you think the makers go overboard with it?
Anirjit: It depends. If you are talking of Oh! Mother, the cuss words that are used are used to portray a particular character, characters that we see in our lives. All of us know people who swear and cuss, so Pablo’s character is based on that. The bold scenes that’s there are necessary for the story to go on, for the plot to develop. It was adequate and not over-the-top. But there are shows which do it needlessly.
Bibriti: It differs from maker to maker. The intimate scenes or the cuss words used in our series are all part of the content. And as the issue is of teen pregnancy, a few bold scenes were necessary. And the treatment of the scenes is done in a way that it will not look gross.
Bidipta: It’s true that many people take advantage because films require a censor certificate and web content does not. Web has more freedom. The reality is portrayed better on the digital medium. Whether someone is enhancing the plot or exploiting the situation depends on the filmmaker.
What’s the difference between shooting for a film and a web series?
Bidipta: I find no difference between the two. It’s like working in a movie. The same amount of dedication and care goes into making a web series. Nowadays films are getting made faster too, so there’s that similarity too.
Bibriti: I don’t think there is any difference. Only the mediums are different. You have to have a plan and love your work... that’s it.
Anirjit: I haven’t worked in a film so I cannot compare. I think Bibriti is right and it shouldn’t be different because at the end of the day it’s acting, and you have to portray the character as realistically as possible. So, whether it is a web series or a film, it doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s just a different format.
Bibriti: And I really feel that this web series is similar to a movie. The director has treated it as a movie and we have workshopped for it.