Amazon Prime’s action crime thriller Mirzapur can be attributed to (along with some phenomenal series from other digital platforms) beginning the OTT revolution in India. The story of two warring families in the interiors of violence-ridden UP, the show debuts a highly anticipated second season today. In the midst of the feud between the Tripathis and the Pandits is the small but strong character of Dimpy Pandit, played by Harshita Gaur.
Harshita stormed on the scene with a lead role on Channel V’s ‘Sadda Haq,’ and has since then worked in many projects. LetsOTT caught up with her to talk about Dimpy’s transition into the next season, and how the actress’s life has changed since the show. Here’s what she had to say...
How has life changed post-Mirzapur?
Life has changed drastically after I was cast on Mirzapur. When I came to Mumbai in 2013, I already had work in hand (I had been cast in Sadda Haq). Over the course of the next years, I was just shooting for it non-stop! Once the show completed, thus started the process of going out and meeting people to scout for work. I had never done that before.
When Mirzapur released, then I started getting noticed. People acknowledged not just the actors who had bigger parts on the show, but even actors with smaller roles like me. Now, when people see me in Mirzapur, they want to know what else I've done before and usually go to Sadda Haq, which makes that time worth it.
So do you still have to give auditions for roles?
It's always better to give auditions! That's the only way casting directors can be sure that you really deserve the part. I'll be honest, I find the audition process quite tough. But I want to use that tape to introduce myself and my talent, and they can use it to be sure of my abilities. Mirzapur has allowed me to get calls to audition for good TV shows, good web series, and now, even good films.
Dimpy is a small but important role, especially since the action-packed finale of the last season. How do you see her grow in season 2?
I was skeptical initially for the same reason. I thought Dimpy was insignificant because I came from that mindset that no one would remember me because the show was on a digital platform and not too many people were watching Indian shows online then. This is even before Sacred Games season one was out. It was later that I realized that the web has budget constraints. So, if you're there as a cast member of a show, or in a particular scene, it won't be for no reason. Dimpy adds value to the series, otherwise, no one would write her in in the first place.
When it comes to her character arc, this was just the establishing season for Dimpy. She's still beautifully written with her presence and few lines, enough to make people want to see more of her. In season 2 or future seasons (if the show gets renewed further), you will see her transform into someone stronger, even if you don't get to see her that often.
You've played very strong characters before too (Sadda Haq, Puncch Beat), but Mirzapur is quite a male-dominated show. When do the women take charge?
Someone asked me recently if making an all-female Mirzapur would be a good idea, I said, "that would just be a very different show, and surely a great one, but still different." Please go ahead and make it. Mirzapur's story is centred around men. That's the way it starts and hence, progresses as episodes pass. We can't take men out of the equation. What you will see is each woman gains more strength in the upcoming season.
Which show has been a bigger turning point for you personally - Sadda Haq or Mirzapur?
I'd put them on par with each other. Both shows came to me at pivotal moments. Sadda Haq was my entry point to this industry and it landed me in Mumbai. After the show ended, I went through an immense lull in my professional and personal life, and then Mirzapur happened.
Mirzapur is bigger in terms of reach. Amazon Prime is huge and the show can be accessed across the globe by millions of people. Sadda Haq was still limited to a certain audience. We've been extremely lucky, almost everyone who is part of the creative industry. Digital platforms have really opened up avenues, provided work opportunities. Wonderful stories are being told. There are so many themes that can be explored online than TV or film, perhaps. The landscape has really changed.
From a teen dramedy to a crime thriller, you seem to be challenging yourself with every new project. What do you enjoy more?
I don't see it that way. Everything I do, I do it with honesty. If it translates well with the audience, that's a huge validation for me and that is my source of enjoyment.
You made your film debut last year with the Telugu film 'Falaknuma Das.' You also did a Hotstar original film, 'Kanpuriye.' Will we see you do more films in the future?
Everyone who arrives in Mumbai dreams of doing at least one movie which will hit the theatres. Movies have a different kind of engagement altogether. I really want to explore that space. People buying a ticket for something I'm acting in would be a dream come true. I've been meeting casting directors for some projects and hopefully, something should materialize soon.
In spite of the industry embracing the 'new normal' with lockdown restrictions being lifted, it's still a very uncertain time for people, especially young actors. Are you feeling nervous about the future?
The uncertain part of my career passed three years ago. But that's not only because I finally got back on track on getting work. I don't have work at the moment either (laughs). I want to live stress-free and grateful for today. Even during the lockdown, I was trying to take care of and spend time with myself. It's because I believe in being happy and grateful for today, and that will make your tomorrow a lot better. Of course, having more, better projects will make things better but that won't take away from the sense of achievement I feel for where I have reached already.
How have you been spending the lockdown?
I took up Vipassana (meditation) and it has helped me feel more peaceful and clear a lot of clutter in my mind. I dislike cooking but I started now, so I can at least make enough of it to survive (laughs). I always wanted to learn one instrument, so I started learning the flute.
The lockdown and this pandemic have just strengthened my belief in living for today and not worrying about tomorrow. I used to make so many plans, and I'm sure many others did too, and everything went for a toss. That has put a lot of things in perspective.