Aahana Kumra’s character in Viu’s latest web series It Happened in Hong Kong is very close to her own self, according to the film and television actor. She is a spirited traveller who has globe-trotted across cities.
And to top it all, the character shares Kumra’s name as well. “I just had to play myself and did not have to be anybody else,” Kumra told Scroll.in. “I could draw from all my experiences. That was the selling point. The show did not really have a set script.”
Also starring Amol Parashar of TVF Tripling fame, the show is about two strangers Aahana (Kumra) and Amol (Parashar) who meet in Hong Kong and develop a friendship.
Directed by Lakshya Raj Anand and co-written by Parashar, the four-episode show went on air on the Viu streaming service on March 9, and is streamed every Friday.
The show, which was shot in Hong Kong, was wrapped up very quickly. “We finished the shoot in six days and that is remarkable for a four-episode shoot,” Kumra said. “Never at any point of time did I realise that the camera was on me. The camera was just invisible. So there was so much freedom for me as an actor to do things.”
Describing the show as part real and part fiction, Kumra revealed that much of the series was shot spontaneously and was drawn from real-life events. “Coincidentally Amol and I had known each other for a bit before the show, but I really got to know about him, and both of us started to explore each other’s lives more through the episodes,” Kumra said. “And most of our scenes are also like those. The whole vibe of the show is go with the flow.”
Kumra got her break in television through &TV’s Agent Raghav – Crime Branch (2015-2016), where she played Trisha Deewan, the leader of a crime branch unit. Her film credits include The Blueberry Hunt (2016) and Sona Spa (2013). But she is best known for her portrayal of the feisty beauty parlour owner Leela in Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017).
“I run away from repetition,” Kumra said. “When you tend to get typecast, you don’t have fun anymore. At later points in your life as an actor, especially in Hindi films, they will give you the same roles. So you might as well do the experiments now.”
Kumra has starred in a list of web series, including Official Chukyagiri (2016), Inside Edge (2017) and the upcoming series CEO Giri. “It is a very good time for actors to explore different genres as well,” Kumra said. “But the platform should be used wisely. What is happening on the internet right now is that it is becoming really gimmicky. People think that I have to be witty or humorous and for that, I have to be condescending. There is a fine line between being funny and condescending, and that is getting lost on the internet.”
That said, digital platforms are a boon for actors with non-film backgrounds, she added. “I come from a non-film background and the roles that usually come to people like us are the characters of friends or sisters in a film,” Kumra said. “But now things are completely different because people are watching our work on the web. There were no opportunities in the beginning because people were not willing to put money on non-film stars. But now, there are very good roles even for actors like us who have come from theatre and television.”