Log Out

Advertisement

TV actors multitask and shoot from home

From donning the director’s hat, handling the camera to selecting costumes, actors are multitasking as they shoot from their homes for special episodes

By Arindam Chatterjee

  • Published 21.05.20, 11:42 PM
  • Updated 3.06.20, 3:33 PM

Sudipta Chakraborty

What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’ll be doing special lockdown episodes?

I was excited as this happens to be a comedy show (Non Stop Abol Tabol on Zee Bangla) and comedy has always been my favourite genre and less explored by me as an artiste. Moreover, this appeared to be an experimental show... and the experience would be new for me, I thought.

How did you start preparing for it?

I didn’t get much time to prepare until the first script came as I was completely clueless about how my character is like in the show and how exactly they were weaving the concept. The brief was to go by my instinct.

How was the shooting experience?

Very new, I must say. As I’m fortunate enough to have a filmmaker at home (husband Abhishek Saha), he helped me in making the frames look okay and gave me constant suggestions regarding my performance and look and feel of my shots. I have my elder sister living with us currently with her little daughter. So every night we wait for the children (my daughter and niece) to go to sleep before we start preparing for the day’s shoot. Once they fall asleep, I start doing my make-up, hair, wear my costumes etc. By that time, Abhishek prepares the location (our living room) with the chair, table, curtains, lampshades, other lights in place. Once I get ready, I prepare my lines and then start shooting. My elder sister (Bidisha) gives me dialogue cues that my co-actors have in the script. We shoot my entire part like that every night. We pack up at around 12.30 am to 1am roughly every night.

The thing that struck me was the absence of the technicians in the shoot. Starting from my make-up artist to the hairstylist, to the costume designer to the electricians, the art director, the DoP, the director, the assistant directors, the spot boys, each and every one has a very key role to play to make each shot happen. I always knew that but felt their absence much more than ever before.

How did you choose the locations?

I have a role of a news anchor in the show, something that requires a fixed backdrop unlike other characters. I didn’t have much options at home to explore. Abhishek made a corner of our living room look presentable as a newsroom backdrop and we started shooting.

What is your takeaway from the experience?

First, a sense of gratitude and relief to realise that I’m working in the lockdown whereas lakhs of people are losing their jobs around me every day and others are unsure about their future. Second, audience’s positive response and appreciation. Third, channel personnel’s faith in me and my craft. Fourth, I’m a part of an experimental work.

Do you feel this is the way forward for serials?

Until the lockdown is called off, yes. Once it’s over, the permission for shooting should be given, maintaining all the directives, of course.

Tota Roy Choudhury

What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’ll be doing a special lockdown episode?

My interest was piqued (shooting for Sreemoyee on Star Jalsha). I wanted to know, (a) whether this would meet the technical requirements for being telecast, and (b) whether our viewers would like it. And at this stage of my career I really look forward to interesting challenges.

How did you start preparing for it?

I went through the script, learnt the lines of a Rabindrasangeet, Aaloker ei jhornadharaye and selected the costumes from my wardrobe. There wasn’t much of a brief since by now I already have developed a graph of the character and the creative team trusts me with it.

How was the shooting experience?

The shooting experience was obviously not as smooth as what we are used to in a professional set up. Keeping the technical specifications in mind, I had to retake many shots since nature and her creations didn’t always participate pleasantly in the process, putting it mildly! In one shot at my terrace, it was sunny and suddenly in the next shot the sun played truant. Meanwhile, I am sweating when the sun decides to make a grand but brief appearance and I rush for the powder puff to dab my face off the sweat only to find the sun disappear behind a large and dark cloud. The neighbours, too, had a field day gawking and advising. The crows made it their mission to photobomb my frame(s)! If not anything else, they wanted to have their collective voices preserved for posterity while I was trying to shoot! Midway through many shots I lost my cool. It was a nightmare.

How did you record the visuals and dub for the episode?

The visuals were recorded by my wife Sharmili and she being cinema literate made the process easier. The dubbing was another matter altogether. I was sent the portion to be dubbed via WhatsApp. I connected the headphones to my phone and put the portion on play. Meanwhile, I put on the sound recorder app in my wife’s phone and spoke into it. After which I sent the voice files to the technical team. Believe me, it was not easy.

How did you choose the locations?

Sharmili strictly demarcated the zones. The kitchen, my daughter's room, the dining room and the bedroom were out of bounds. The living room, the staircase, the balcony and our terrace were okay. I planned my shots accordingly.

What is your takeaway from the experience?

With proper planning and execution, a set of intelligent, talented and passionate artistes can pull off even seemingly impossible feats. And by artistes, I mean the scriptwriter, director, editor and, of course, the talented actresses and actors involved in the process. And yes, we created history!

Do you feel this is the way forward for serials?

Honestly, I feel that what we have done is just a temporary measure to ensure that the bond with our core audience remains intact. It had been 41 days since the last episode was telecast and we are duty bound to cater to our loyal viewers so that they continue watching Sreemoyee once work resumes. Maybe if the lockdown extends or if there is another lockdown due to a second wave of Covid-19, later this year, as warned by the experts, then the channel might plan for more such special episodes. But this certainly can’t be the way forward. We simply cannot make quality content without our team of assistant directors, camera, sound, light, make-up, costumes and other ancillary departments.

Madhurima Basak

What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’ll be doing special lockdown episodes?

It was a big sigh of relief (to shoot episodes for Sreemoyee and Mohor on Star Jalsha). The thought of facing the camera after close to two months and performing a scene that too all by myself was really exciting.

How did you start preparing for it?

It was completely different from being on a set. There was no one to direct and give inputs while enacting the scene. While shooting I had no idea if this is what the makers are looking for in the scene. So it was more of reading the script again and again to try and understand the brief... there were video call sessions with the production team to discuss how to go about the scene. And shooting multiple times for a particular scene with different approaches every time helped me give options to the makers to choose from. They also encouraged improvisation so I was more confident and at ease.

How was the shooting experience?

It was difficult yet different and a beautiful learning experience. It was multi-faceted, from donning the director’s hat to handling the camera, arranging for the costume and props, selecting the background and lighting. It was tiring but in the end this is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

How did you record the visuals?

The entire thing was shot on my iPhone X plus. A standard setting was given and it was same for all the artistes who were shooting from their respective homes. For close-ups and steady shots I used a mobile holder and did some scene tests for getting the right frame and lighting. On other occasions my father turned saviour. He did exactly as I told him to and barring the initial glitches he did an impressive job behind the camera! The scenes involving dialogues were mostly indoors. Owing to lockdown there is hardly any noise outside. So it was not much of a problem recording on mobile.

How did you choose the locations?

Not many options were there and it had to be shot within the apartment I live in.

What is your takeaway from the experience?

New challenges and crisis lead to innovation and beautiful discoveries. What seems impossible initially gets done eventually if the heart is in the right place.

Do you feel this is the way forward for serials?

It is a refreshing take on shooting serials but I feel the scope is limited. Acting is all about reacting and that is missing without the real-time reactions of co-actors. Also the vibe on the studio set is a different experience altogether. There is so much more teamwork and positive input and fun and camaraderie. I miss going to a set.

Anamika Chakraborty

What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’ll be doing special lockdown episodes?

I couldn’t believe my ears. Haha! I have an idea of WFH as I have worked in corporate but this was beyond my wildest dreams! I have worked on two episodes for EAN (Ekhane Akash Neel) on Star Jalsha.

How did you start preparing for it?

My preparation was hardcore as I still remember I was sick when I was shooting from home. Three different characters and the genre was comedy so I had to pull it off anyhow. However, I had to rehearse each and every line over and over again just to do justice to those characters. “Challenge accepted” was the kind of energy I had! At this point of time nothing much can be done from a distance. All you can do is trust each other and motivate. Teamwork!

How was the shooting experience?

Never have I ever felt this. For a moment I was feeling like an all-rounder. Nevertheless, my mother has been a great support throughout the shoot. Altogether I think it is the best experience I had so far.

How did you record the visuals?

Once again, my mother shot the visuals as per her capacity and the amount of space I had. Mostly, mid shots and close shots. She managed to give me a few angles when I was shooting for the songs... by that time she was killing it! Dubbing was done from my phone’s voice recorder. Pretty decent.

How did you choose the locations?

Simple! I didn’t have too many options. Terrace and my room.

What is your takeaway from the experience?

I’ve learnt to be patient. Most importantly, I had a fear that I won’t be able to perform, so I think I have learnt how to take risks and overpower fear.

Do you feel this is the way forward for serials?

I don’t think this can go on for too long. This is temporary. We need to go back to our respective workplaces and start working once this pandemic is over. No matter how much we shoot from home it’s not complete without the entire team. Everyone has a role to play.

Chandni Saha

What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’ll be doing a special lockdown episode?

Initially, I was quite surprised. I was actually in two minds — I did not know how the audience would react to an episode (for Ekhane Akash Neel on Star Jalsha) that we the actors would shoot from our homes. Will they accept it or not? There was a sense of uncertainty.

How did you start preparing for it?

I had discussions with the team about my lines, how I would go about it, how to shoot it and in which direction I would look.

How was the shooting experience?

See, this is not something that I really enjoyed. We had to do it because there was no other way. I don’t want to be the DoP, or art designer or director for a show. This is not me. Everyone has their own specific jobs and they are there because they are good at it. I don’t want to do their work. I am here to act and I would like to go back to the sets again when it is feasible. I want to go about it properly so that no one is deprived.

How did you record the visuals?

My family members helped me by recording my visuals on my phone.

How did you choose the locations?

Options were limited, and I shot on my terrace and in a room.

What is your takeaway from the experience?

It was a very difficult shoot. On the set, we work in a controlled environment. But here things were completely the opposite. I had put up saris as my backdrop for the visuals but the wind was blowing them away constantly. I don’t want to repeat it, but yes this experience has helped raise my level of patience.

Do you feel this is the way forward for serials?

This is not the way. I am extremely worried about the future of technicians who are suffering... they cannot work now. I hope something can be done for them.  

Roosha Chatterjee

What was your first reaction when you got to know that you’ll be doing special lockdown episodes?

I have shot a special episode for Sreemoyee and another for Mahapith Tarapith (on Star Jalsha). Initially, I was confused. I had no idea how I would start the shoot, who would be my cameraman. But right after that I was super excited. I had never done anything like this. It came as a challenge.

How did you start preparing for it?

I just went and told my mother, ‘You have to be my camera woman!’ She was startled. I was really worried about the frames. We always have props and space to shoot but I stay in an apartment. I took my phone and started taking pictures so that I could get a nice frame!

How was the shooting experience?

It was super fun. I was the DoP, art director, assistant director and an actor as well. We all were multitasking. And the best part was that our family members were also involved with the shoots. My father was reading out the lines from the script so that I could give reactions. And both of them really liked it.

How did you record the visuals?

I shot on my iPhone! We shot it just like we would shoot our home videos. I just had to be loud.

How did you choose the locations?

Selecting the location was the most difficult thing for me. When I found a frame I would take a picture and send it to our director... he would approve and then I would start to shoot.

What is your takeaway from the experience?

When there is a will there is a way, and during this lockdown it showed us that we can have different shooting styles and our industry will never stop to entertain audiences.

Do you feel this is the way forward for serials?

During these difficult times I guess it’s okay for us to shoot from home. But I would really want to go back to the studio and shoot.

Advertisement