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Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo actress Isha Talwar: ‘It has taken me a while to land here’

Isha stars in Homi Adajania’s drama series Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo alongside Dimple Kapadia, Radhika Madan and Angira Dhar

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 06.07.23, 04:37 PM
Isha Talwar

Isha Talwar

Isha Talwar made people take notice of her in the large ensemble cast of Mirzapur Season 2 before going all guns blazing in Disney+ Hotstar’s Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo. Following the release of the Homi Adajania-directed series, Isha talks about how life has changed (or not), her journey as an actor and her upcoming projects which include Rohit Shetty’s cop universe series Indian Police Force.

How has life changed after Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo?


Isha Talwar: Nothing has changed really. I’m still giving auditions. People are saying good things but I’m still looking for work. So, yeah, auditions and a lot of meetings are going on but nothing substantial yet. I’m still doing my acting workshops and I’m still doing things that I used to do. However, I am socialising a lot more. I have never been out in 12 years. I would refrain from having late nights but I’m learning to be a bit more social now.

But it must be feeling good to be playing meatier roles now.

Isha Talwar: First of all, meaty or not is secondary. But yeah, being seen, working with good filmmakers and the right people, and projects happening on good platforms is a good feeling because it has taken me a while to land here. The roles are turning out well, so that’s some kind of relief for me. When I was working in the South for seven-eight years, I wasn’t even sure whether I knew how to act or not. Slowly I’m beginning to realise that I can do this.

It was interesting to see the way you played Bijlee in Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo. She’s composed and calm on the outside despite a lot of chaos within her.

Isha Talwar: It’s nice to hear this because a lot of time actors lose objectivity – it’s hard to understand. It’s a process. You realise that if you’re feeling it, then the audience will see it. It’s important to feel it and not show it. To be able to do that on camera takes a while because to trust yourself with ‘what I’m doing will be visible’ is important.

With the kind of response that I have received from the industry people, that tension is off my mind now. Now I know that whatever I’m doing within can be seen the way I want to show it. A character can be played in a gazillion ways but the way I choose to play it, if it can connect with people it feels great. I feel this is a step in the right direction.

You have played characters with interesting names — Bijlee in Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, Madhuri in Mirzapur, Urmi in Sharmaji Namkeen and Maya in Tubelight.

Isha Talwar: Madhuri Dixit is Puneet Krishna’s (the writer of Mirzapur) favourite actress. So, that’s why my character was named Madhuri. There’s some story that Hitesh Bhatia (director of Sharmaji Namkeen) had told me about Urmi but I can’t remember it. Bijlee is a common name in that belt.

And Maya who? I can’t remember. That was a stretchy part. I went back home during the screening of Tubelight. It was a weirdly funny experience.

You have played small roles in Kaamyaab and Article 15. How important was it for you to do those roles?

Isha Talwar: It was very important because I wasn’t getting work. If I got a role where I felt that something might happen with it, I would do that film. It was better than sitting at home. In the South as well, I was struggling with different languages — Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam — because I was born and brought up in Bombay.

I did whatever good roles I could find in Hindi because I felt that those were good directors and the films were backed by good production houses. The people I met were nice. Hardik Mehta (director of Kaamyaab) was very sweet when I met him. Even if those were small parts, I felt that I could do something in those roles. I was happy to do Article 15 and Kaamyaab. People still talk to me about those roles, which means it was not a bad decision at all.

What have been your insights from the acting workshops that you do?

Isha Talwar: In Bombay, I did so many workshops but I have never found a workshop quite like the one I did in Kerala, which is called Navarasa Sadhana by Guruji Venu G. Nothing did I find in Bombay that had to do with the Indian methodology of acting or performance. You don’t get to hear the words ‘natya shastra in Mumbai. The programme that guruji has designed is loosely based on Natya Shastra, Kathakali, Koodiyattam, and a lot of traditional classical dance forms in Kerala.

Everybody talks about Stanislavski, Grotowski and Lee Strasberg. For me what was refreshing was firstly to discover my own culture, and not just look at it as an archaic way of learning Natya Shastra. We were practically using it in the workshop.

I think it has changed my life as an actor. The past four months have just been a huge revelation to me in terms of acting and what I can do with it. I’m just so much in awe of the programme and what it has done for me is beyond measure.

What’s an emotion that you struggle with while acting?

Isha Talwar: I’m not struggling with anything yet but I have not done comedy, which I think will be interesting to explore. Of all the navarasas, if I have to pick one, I will experiment with humour, maybe repulsion too. So much of our writing doesn’t have anything to do with repulsion.

Do you think the Hindi film industry struggles to make brave casting choices?

Isha Talwar: We do struggle with it because the money riding is so high that until you’re not commercially viable, you’ll be looked at like a piece of furniture. The commerce of it is taking over, which is kind of sad because creativity is taking a back seat. That’s not a good space to be in.

All departments of filmmaking are creative choices and commerce can’t take over in such a huge way. I think we need to strike some kind of a balance between what is commercially viable, how much money is riding on what kinds of projects and what exactly we are putting out there after spending crores of rupees.

What can you tell us about your collaboration with Rohit Shetty (Indian Police Force) and your other upcoming projects?

Isha Talwar: The role in Indian Police Force is something that I have not done before. It’s definitely going to show me as a playful girl-next-door which I’m very happy about because only doing dark roles is not my mission in life. Madhuri and Bijlee have happened back-to-back but I didn’t come here thinking that I was going to be this intense actor. I want to have fun with all kinds of genres and cinema.

Other than that, Chamak is a very exciting show that I have done. It’s loosely based on the Punjabi music industry. That is a part I’m quite looking forward to because I play a musician in the show.

An actor’s life revolves around phone calls, whether it’s a casting call or a call to appreciate your work. Which has been your most memorable phone call?

Isha Talwar: These days it’s only text messages and voicemails. People have stopped calling each other, which is kind of sad. I can’t think of a call but my co-actors and producers have reached out to me saying ‘We would love to work with you’ and that really makes me feel good. It never used to happen before.

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