Actor Rasika Dugal, who has recently narrated ‘Uncovidable’ (Hindi) – a pandemic-inspired humorous account by a woman who is told to stay put for 21 days in a nationwide lock-down, finds audio work to be a space free of people’s impression of an actor’s physicality …Rasika speaks with Siddhi Jain.
Excerpts from her interview:
What do you think is going to be the impact of Coronavirus on the quality and kind of content we are going to see now?
We are living in a Pandemic. Our lives have changed significantly. These have been uncertain times for everyone. But I am always moved and surprised by how quickly we adapt to new situations and reinvent ourselves. Till a few months back I hadn’t imagined that entire films or series could be shot from home, dubbed in the smallest room and promoted on Zoom. Many writers, creators, actors have responded to these dire times in a light-hearted way. ‘Uncovidable’ is one such example. It explores the experiences of a woman amidst the pandemic, but with a humorous, relatable twist, because God knows we could all do with some laughter now.
Your series on Audible traces WhatsApp voice notes exchanged between you and a friend. Please tell us more about it.
‘Uncovidable’ (on Audible) is the story of a woman whose life is turned upside down when she is told to stay put for 21 days during a nationwide lockdown, as a result of the Covid19 pandemic. The series is based on Vekeana Dhillon’s humorous and semi-biographical account of her experiences during the lockdown. The sudden halt in her daily activities has her taking a closer look at the situation around her and the behaviour of those she interacts with regularly. The story unfolds through a series of unanswered voice messages she leaves on her evasive best friend’s phone, while doggedly pursuing her for a response. She recounts the days she spends in confinement, along with her husband and brother. It is a light hearted, funny story and will resonate with many.
How was your experience working with an audio medium? What excites you about audio?
Usually, in acting work, there are so many tools at our disposal – voice, body language, props etc. All working together towards creating the desired impact. In audio books/series everything has to be created with your voice alone. I thought that would be an interesting challenge to take up. Prior to ‘Uncovidable’ (Hindi) I have also collaborated with Audible for an original piece ‘The Last Boy to fall in love’ written by Durjoy Dutta and the audiobook version of Aparna Jain’s ‘Like A Girl’. As actors, sometimes the roles you get offered get limited because of people’s impression of your physicality. For instance, if ‘The Last Boy To Fall In Love ‘ or maybe even ‘Uncovidable’ were to be made into a film then I don’t know how many casting directors/directors would imagine me in the role of Erika or Vekeana. This, unfortunately, is the frustrating truth about an actor’s life. But the audio book is a space which is free of that. How you look does not determine which characters you get to play! I am looking forward to exploring a range of characters through audio work.
Art flourishes in self-isolation. Would you agree?
Art flourishes anywhere. There are no rules to this one. And that is the beauty of it. Some artists like to get away to be able to work. Some flourish while in the middle of chaos. In my creative journey, I have learnt to embrace the chaos rather than fight it and channel that experience into my work, consciously or subconsciously.