For her first Bollywood film Platform, she had to change her name to Priya Arora as the industry needed a more acceptable identity than Tisca Chopra. Soon after, Tisca, 41, left Bollywood to polish her craft in theatre and TV. And when she returned to films, opposite Aamir Khan in the multiple award-winning Taare Zameen Par, the world took notice of the intense actor who played the role of a mother of a dyslexic child. In an interview to Lachmi Deb Roy, the actor talks about her life and craft. Excerpts…
On short films
I have done two short films, Chutney and Chhuri. Chutney, in which I play the role of a housewife from Ghaziabad, is one of the most-watched short films in the world and Chhuri did extremely well. The third short, Rubaru, which I am directing, is about an actor’s inner life, her journey trying to find her confidence back.
There are a bunch of things that I am doing. I am working on a web series which starts in January. I am also doing a film for Netflix called Penthouse, but that’s more of a guest appearance. I am also directing a feature film about which I don’t want to talk about at this moment.
Tisca in Chutney
On popularity of short films
Micro-content is finding its place under the sun because people have limited time and they want to use the time well. The audience also want to have snackable content which is of maximum 10-20 minutes. Also, what happens is that it is the length of an episode of a web series, so the audience’s attention doesn’t get diverted.
My experience has shown that short films don’t really have a specific audience. Chutney has 131 million views and is growing on the platform. Viewership for short films cuts across demographics and can reach anybody. The word of mouth on short films are huge and you need to just forward the link and soon you will see it trending everywhere. It’s easily accessible and grabs the attention of an audience fast, because it is engaging.
On the craft of short films
I will give you an analogy of jewellery. When you are doing meenakari work on a piece of jewellery you have to do very minute intricate works. A short film is like that. You have to be very precise because you have just a few minutes to convey the entire story to your audience in that short time which is rich in nuance. Again, you need to be even more skilful in your story-telling because you have got a very small window. In 15 minutes, you have to establish the character and the world surrounding the characters. You need to be very intricate and clever in your writing.
On acting in different platforms
Acting in each platform is the same, just that the shots differ. Just that web series gives us a lot of opportunity to experiment with different kinds of roles. The content of web series is different and the same goes for short films.
On future of Indian cinema
We were heading towards a shift to the digital platform when the pandemic came along and gave us a nice push to the digital platform. Films are going to be more and more difficult to shoot and produce, so the audience is going to get divided. There are going to be the big experience films like 83 or Suryavanshi, which are big-ticket films. Then there is going to be far more nuanced and interesting content from film-makers who are individualistic and quirky. That kind of film will find its own audience across various digital platforms.
I don’t think that people are going to fall out of the habit of big screen experiences because our need for theatre has been there since ancient times. What will happen is, possibly there will be mini theatres or community theatres. It’s the evolving journey of entertainment; the pandemic is an occurrence which nobody was ready for, hence it has forced us to reconsider and look at our options.