Murder in a housing society

The dark comedy is so funny that viewers will be in splits even during tense scenes, predicts the banker-turned actor about 'Sunflower'

(L-R) Mukul Chadda, Vidya Balan, Ila Arun and Vijay Raaz
(L-R) Mukul Chadda, Vidya Balan, Ila Arun and Vijay Raaz

Garima Sadhwani

With two of his projects all set for release, a crime-comedy web show Sunflower and the Vidya-Balan starrer Sherni, actor Mukul Chadda is on a roll.

Talking about Sunflower, he says that the plot of the show basically revolves around a murder that happens in a residential society, and how the residents try to get their head around the investigation and the politics of the society, with some being more concerned with the image of the society than the crime itself.

He says that the show is intense with a lot of underlying tension, but it is so funny that you’ll be in splits during the most serious scenes as well. He adds, “What I like about Sunflower is that it doesn’t fit into any one particular genre. It’s not a murder mystery or pure comedy, but it takes a lot of different boxes.”

While deciding on his roles, he says he looks at the character and the project through the lens of the audience, and sees if it makes him grow out of his comfort zone. But what made Chadda say yes to the character of the petty and short-tempered Dr. Ahuja was how different the character was from any other that he had played and from his off-camera version as well.

This is what made him take Pawan’s role in Sherni too. Chadda credits the director Amit Masurkar for bringing out the nuances of the character in the movie. While the title of Sherni tells you that the movie will be about a brave woman fighting against all odds, this isn’t the case with Sunflower. Chadda thinks that the name itself is ironic, because while the name suggests something bright and happy, the show is definitely full of dark comedy.

With Sherni, the focus is on very real issues. Chadda says that Masukar doesn’t look at any issue in isolation, he considers everything surrounding the issue as well. So, the film isn’t just about the issue of conservation or animals, but “the juxtaposition of wildlife and the life of the villagers and the interplay of the symbiotic relationship between them”.

What Chadda cherishes the most from both the projects, however, is the experience on the sets. With Sherni, it was the joy of working with phenomenal actors like Vidya Balan and Ila Arun, and the “almost-childlike energy” that Masurkar brought to the sets. With Sunflower, it was just the happy vibe on the set, which was only fueled by the many inside jokes the crew shared. Chadda says, “I was fortunate, in both these projects, to have a good team. I could focus on my work because everything else was always taken care of.”

He also talks about how the OTT revolution has had a huge role to play in his career. “With a lot more content being produced in different formats, it’s given actors more freedom and opportunities.” He adds that OTT platforms have allowed the stories to focus on more than just the main protagonist, and given interesting character arcs to other characters as well.

He knows that these are tough times for everyone, but Chadda hopes that young actors and aspirants do not get lost in the mess. His advice to them? “It is a tough profession. Ask yourself why you are in this, and if it is because you really want to act, stick around.” The banker-turned-actor recalls how his sabbatical from work turned into full-time theater and acting, because he always knew what his calling was, and he trusted it.

Having worked throughout the pandemic, Chadda shot a film called Banana Bread, and starred in crime-thriller series called Bichoo Ka Khel. With Sherni and Sunflower now set to release, he’s also working on other projects. A film he shot a few years ago called Fairy Folk is also in post-production and doing the rounds of film festivals, and might be released by the end of this year.

Sunflower premiered at Zee5 on June 11 and Sherni releases on June 18 on Amazon Prime Video.

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