Soha Ali Khan, Kritika Kamra, Ayesha Jhulka, Shahana Goswami and Tanuja Chandra on new OTT thriller 'Hush Hush'

They spoke about what drew them to the women-led series streaming now on Amazon Prime Video

Kritika Kamra, Ayesha Jhulka, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami and Karishma Tanna are part of Hush Hush
Kritika Kamra, Ayesha Jhulka, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami and Karishma Tanna are part of Hush Hush

Enid Grace Parker

Published: Tue 27 Sep 2022, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Oct 2022, 4:31 PM

What’s immediately appealing about the poster for new OTT series Hush Hush streaming now on Amazon Prime Video, is the impressive band of female actors that stare back at you.

Hush Hush, a seven-episode crime thriller, is led by a powerful cast of women that includes Juhi Chawla, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami, Kritika Kamra, Karishma Tanna and, in a much-anticipated on-screen comeback, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander star Ayesha Jhulka.

Director Tanuja Chandra in a conversation with City Times said, “Hush Hush is a crime drama but I would pit it as a female centric story.”

Juhi Chawla and Ayesha Jhulka both made their web debuts with Hush Hush, which revolves around friendship, dark secrets and deceit, bringing a Big Little Lies feel to the glitzy high society of Gurgaon.

Soha Ali Khan was “extremely excited” for her role of Saiba, a former journalist who is compelled to return to the field, she told City Times.

She shared, “I had always wanted to be a detective or an investigative journalist (in real life), like my character Saiba in Hush Hush. I remember when we used to live in Delhi, there was no gate at our house. There was one chowkidar who would fall asleep at night and we would come and go. We had a huge family; uncles, grand uncles and cousins… I was always been intrigued about what was happening in and around my neighbourhood. I used to go into my father’s office and make notes. Then I was told to stop doing this. My father also advised me once to never write anything down. I think as a person he was also quite ‘hush hush’!”

Soha admitted one of her biggest challenges was to get adjusted with the language that Saiba uses.

“Saiba is very colourful and she speaks her mind. I am a lot more reserved as opposed to Saiba. I talk a lot but I don’t give away too much. It was nice to play someone like that on screen.”

Evolution of roles for women

Ayesha Jhulka, who was last seen on screen in the 2018 film Genius, is “thrilled” to make her digital debut with Hush Hush, despite initial feelings of apprehension and nervousness.

“I had not taken up any work for years together and there was a huge gap, so I was not sure about facing the camera again. But, Tanuja was the biggest positive support. She did not give up on me; she kept on convincing me until I finally said yes.”

In Hush Hush, Ayesha plays Meera, a complex character unlike anything she has attempted in the past. She revealed, “I had taken a step back from work because I was not getting what I wanted to do, and then one fine day, I found the woman who had the confidence that I could do this. Hush Hush is something beyond imagination and beyond something we can see. Hush Hush will not only keep you engrossed, but it will also make you think, so one has to keep his/her mind open.”

Juhi Chawla and Ayesha Jhulka are making their digital debuts with Hush Hush
Juhi Chawla and Ayesha Jhulka are making their digital debuts with Hush Hush

What are her thoughts on the evolution of roles for women in Bollywood?

“I think roles for women are more nuanced and real now. Gone are the days when you had to pretend to be somebody you are not, now you have to get into the skin of the characters that are real and relatable. The norm of actresses having a shelf-life has been broken now, they’re getting more performance oriented roles, and OTT has been a source of this change. I think we’re lucky to be living in times where the characters are given more importance than anything.”

Satisfying character arcs

Shahana Goswami (Bombay Begums, A Suitable Boy) plays Zaira, a fashion designer, in Hush Hush and finds it ironic, considering she is “the least fashion conscious person”.

“I think there are always parts of the character that are not like you personally; while she has an acquired confidence, I don’t, but the commonality between Zaira and me is that we both don’t ask for help. She’s feisty, quiet and all out, which is again very different from how I am, but it's lovely playing the character. Zaira is a person who is tough on the outside but very soft on the inside, and I find such people endearing. While she looks all sorted, she has turmoil going on inside as well, but she’ll never show her vulnerable side as she doesn't want to burden others. She realizes and acknowledges that she’s not completely satisfied with her professional choices, though she is earning well. It takes a lot to be honest and truthful about how you feel, and I admire that.”

Kuch To Log Kahenge actor Kritika Kamra liked the vulnerability of her Hush Hush character, Dolly Dalal.

“Dolly is someone who finds it difficult to stand up for herself at the beginning of the show but finds her strength, because of her supportive friends. I took one step at a time. I just tried to be honest to that emotion and comfortable with being vulnerable. So there’s a character arc that I saw in this role that appealed to me the most.”

Something for everyone

Kritika whose last OTT appearance was in the comedy Kaun Banegi Shikharwati, believes the medium has truly expanded opportunities for creative people. “Not just actors, the digital medium has given writers a great platform to build stronger narratives, deeper character arcs and unique storylines. There’s something for everyone now, thanks to OTT.”

Soha feels viewers now are looking for relatable characters more than anything else. “When I started my acting career, back then people would mostly look for aspirational content and wanted to live the life they desire to have, through films. Now people are looking for relatability and they want to see themselves represented on-screen. That shift has given the opportunity for more stories and made this space interesting. I’ve chosen characters that are raw, real, and ambitious, while some worked, others did not work in my favour. However, times have changed with the boom of digital platforms. People want to see organic content and not larger-than-life stories. That is why OTT is a more interesting space for me to do more work. I love this idea of telling a story in series because here we have the space for each character where I as an actor will be able to do a multi-layered performance that is more nuanced.”

By women, for women

Director Tanuja spoke of a “positive change” as far as women’s representation on screen was concerned.

“Female stories and characters are more welcome now than they were 24 years ago (she made her cinematic directorial debut with Dushman in 1998). There is enthusiasm, there are wonderful actors who are up for it and want to do it. Writers are also writing women-based stories. But I do think that there is a long way ahead.”

Being part of a powerful female-led cast was also inspirational.

Soha admitted, “Working with an all-women team is seamless. There’s understanding, harmony, love, and constant support every minute. I think when you are around women, there are things that you relate to, and you don't feel that you are asking for something that is alien. From clean bathrooms to safe transport, when you’re around women your needs are being catered to. We all kept hyping and backing each other while having our fun of course.”

Shahana added, “Hush Hush boasts a really unique bunch of women. It goes without saying, it's always wonderful to work with women. We all have surprised each other, and it is difficult to condense it into one or two things. We all come from different spaces, but there is a certain synergy that translates and it cuts across all the differences. There was a certain egalitarianism and it did not matter who was there on set, we were running the set in the most efficient and sensitive way for the scene and for the series. That is what allowed us to see different facets of each other and about ourselves in a way, which was different.”

Tanuja called Hush Hush “a clutter-breaker largely by the virtue that it is about women”.

“It shows the journey of six female protagonists. It was a dream that I had in my heart for a long time ever since I started creating projects, and this was where it was headed to… telling fully fleshed out stories of several women in today's time. Hush Hush really is a show of our times, and it is an exciting story to tell about friends, what brings them together and threatens to tear them apart, things inside are hearts that fill us with anguish but also hope.”

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