Mirzapur took me back to my childhood days: Harshita Gaur
The Bollywood actress, who plays a key role in season 2 of the web series reminisces about her holidays in Mirzapur
Acting in the Indian web series Mirzapur felt like a walk down memory lane for Bollywood actress Harshita Gaur, who reprises her role as Guddu Pandit's (Ali Fazal) sister, Dimpy, in the second season of the popular crime drama that premiered on Amazon Prime Video on October 23. In a chat with City Times over Zoom, the young star said she has a deep connection with the place, right from her childhood days.
"My maternal grandfather hails from Deoria, which is a town near Mirzapur. He grew up there along with his siblings, but later on, moved to Punjab. But as a kid, I remember visiting my cousins in Mirzapur during our holidays. I have seen pistols at their home and have heard many tales about the place since childhood. In fact, at one time we were warned not to visit the place because, at that time, my maternal grandmother was fighting a case of illegal land grabbing. So I was familiar with the happenings in the place, though what you see in the series is not how things are. Nevertheless, the impact those tales left on my young mind then was that Mirzapur is a place where all these things happen or may happen. So that's the relationship I share with the place and that's why working in Mirzapur brought back some nostalgic memories."
Mirzapur 2 is one of the most-anticipated Indian web shows this year. The story centres on gang boss Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi) and his son Munna (Divyendu Sharma). It depicts the rule of mafia gangs and the rivalry and crime that prevail in this part of Uttar Pradesh. Fans have been eager to know what happens in season 2 - about Guddu who was shot and went into hiding along with Sweety's (Guddu's fiancee) sister Golu (Shweta Tripathi) and Guddu's sister (Harshita Gaur). Outlining the plot, Harshita said, "There is revenge in season 2, but during the course of the show, every character will be discovering themselves. There are so many layers to each character which will be peeling off as the story proceeds. We can't call it an out and out revenge drama, because the story delves deeper into the lives of the characters as they deal with their inner turmoil, and try to figure themselves out."
Mirzapur 2 has a stellar cast that includes a bunch of renowned actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Rasika Dugal, Rajesh Tailang, Sheeba Chaddha, among other stars. For Harshita, working alongside these stars was like attending an acting school.
"It was a wonderful experience working with highly talented actors. I've been watching their work right from my college days, so it was a great honour to work alongside them. They are amazing actors to watch in action. Once they get into the skin of their characters and face the camera they are completely different (personalities). They were my teachers on set, especially Rajesh Tailang who plays my father in the series. He is a teacher at the National School of Drama in Delhi. Even if it was not my shot, I would just observe them and learn so much from them. It was a great learning experience for me."
Harshita is the youngest actor in this multi-starrer series, but communicating with senior stars was never an issue for her. They would treat her well and make her feel comfortable on the set.
"I had a wonderful rapport with the entire cast. I was the youngest one on the team, and I used to feel pampered. I couldn't have asked for a better set of screen parents than Rajesh and Sheeba. They were so caring and loving. Whenever I had any problems with my scenes, I would seek their guidance and they wouldn't hesitate to help me. They became like family for me and Mirzapur felt like home."
Before nabbing the role in Mirzapur, Harshita had worked in Sadda Haq, Puncch Beat, Sacred Games, and other TV and web shows, but she admits Mirzapur has been a life-changing experience for her. Talking about her journey so far, the bubbly actress said.
"I started my career with the Channel [V] show, Sadda Haq. It was a very successful series. After that, I worked on several other shows, but I had always wanted to move forward, and then Mirzapur happened. I'm grateful for that because, after working in this series, everything changed for me. Everyone knew who Harshita Gaur was and I people started approaching me with good content. However, the biggest takeaway for me after working in Mirazpur has been the way I look at scripts now. I had come from a background where I would be the lead on the show and I had little understanding about the importance of playing smaller parts. But looking back, I've realised that it really doesn't matter if I'm not playing the lead. No matter how small a role is, what's most important is how impactful your part is and how you fit into the entire series. I've now learnt to look at the script at its totality, not just my part. That's what I've learnt after working in Mirzapur."
Harshita belongs to a family of doctors and would have probably had an easy journey had she joined the medical profession. Her doctor father did try to persuade her, but her passion for acting was stronger, even though she knew she would be a rank outsider in the industry and would have to struggle.
"My parents are doctors and they would have ideally wanted me to join the medical profession since it would have been easier for me to use their influence. It wouldn't really matter if I would have turned out to be a good doctor or a bad one. But the moment I decided to take up acting, I was fully aware that I was not for film background. I knew that I would be up against a lot of struggle and rejection. But acting was my passion. I was willing to go through the grind. When you know what you are up against as an outsider, then it doesn't make sense cribbing about it. However, everyone goes through their own experiences. I haven't come across a situation where was replaced by a star kid, I don't know if it may or may not happen in future but I always knew that it wouldn't be a cakewalk for me. If you're a good actor, opportunities will come your way. If you don't have it in you, you will get a couple of offers but after that everything will die down."
The actress revealed that she had once battled depression in her early days in the industry, but it was not due to hardships she faced or the long, arduous working hours on the sets.
"When I started my career in movies, I was one busy artist. I used to work 12-14 hour shifts every day for nearly two-and-half years. There was not a single day that I didn't go to work. One day, I decided wanted to change my career path and move on in my career and get into something bigger. I was perhaps overconfident in thinking that I would get a lot of offers. So I started rejecting jobs coming my way because I didn't want that kind of work (TV shows). Suddenly, I was out of work and was stuck at home. I had never faced that kind of a situation and couldn't deal with it. That was the time I went through a depressive episode. I would sit locked inside my room and not go out at all for 3-4 days at a stretch. It was the first time I was experiencing what it felt to be jobless. But since then, I've pretty much sorted myself out and I'm at peace myself."
For Harshita more than fame, it's the privilege of being recognized for her work that matter most. "Earlier, I would think that fame means that the whole world should know you, you should appear in the covers of every magazine. But now I've realised that's not what fame is about. These days, when I step out, people recognise me and call me by my character name. That's what fame means for me now. As long as people appreciate you for your work that's what fame is for me and what matters most."
Mirzapur 2 premiered on Friday, October 23, on Amazon Prime Video.