By: Kavya Pillai & Nikita Iyer
Dice Media’s brand new show Operation MBBS chronicles the medical journey of three young first year students, the trails & tribulations they face in college tl eventually becoming the greatest of friends as they navigate the almost impossible task of becoming a doctor in India. The show stars Ayush Mehra who Sarah Hashmi and Anshul Chauhan in the lead roles. Team Bollywoodwallah met the the talented trio for an exclusive tete-a-tete. Excerpts from the interview
Webseries being in demand these days, how was your experience shooting for one?
Anshul: I had a lot of fun honestly because before this I had shot for Taj Mahal 1989 and that was a different set up altogether and in this, I could actually live without any baggages because to live the lives of students is so liberating as you just have to be there and study without having to pay any bills. The best part about shooting in Bharatiya Vidyapeeth was that it was a real location and wearing the white lab coats, it was even difficult to recognize the actual students from the actors.
Sarah: It was obviously amazing to shoot with people from Dice Media and with my co actors and the team was just wonderful. But coming from a film background earlier it is obviously way more hectic to shoot for web shows because you shoot much more in one day as compared to films, but we could go back in time and relive our college days and it reminded me of the time when we used to be clueless in schools and colleges. And this was our story about, so many things students have to care about while still being clueless. It also helps with a great team that has your back, it was wonderful to work with the entire team and all credit goes to them.
Ayush: It was a very new experience. It is unlike everything that I have done in the past. There is a lot of stuff that people relate me to and that is the cute, romantic kind of a character and I have tried to break that. Here, I get to play a privileged boy but from UP. And I was so nervous about the dialect change that I remember one day before the start of the shoot, I was literally crying and sobbing to Vaibhav who has helped me with the dialect saying I can’t do this and nobody is going to like me in the role! So there was so much excitement and anxiety to play this kind of role.
What is it about each of your characters that interested you the most?
Sarah: Huma’s character is of a nerd of the class who has been a topper all her life. She likes her best in everything that she does but with that comes the pressure of being best at everything. And to maintain that, to go to a medical college with people of the same calibre demamds you to work so much harder and keep proving yourself to your classmates, your family, your parents. So that is one thing that was special about the character.
Anshul: For me as an actor, I really look forward to roles that challenge you and obviously you will have to put extra efforts especially when the character is away from you, you need to take extra care and for me the whole challenge lies there because it lets you grow. I am from Noida and my character is Marathi so there was a difference in the dialect as well. There are lines in Marathi also that she has to say and I had to maintain how they speak. A lot of hard work used to go behind it. I have a Punjabi accent and since there are several dialects of Marathi itself that is spoken In various regions, I had to take care that mine was perfect. Pravin Yadav, the writer of our show is Marathi so I took help from him.
How was your experience shooting for a web series different from shooting for a film?
Sarah: The first thing is that the way a web show is shot is way faster than while shooting than a film. So in a web show you end up getting a lot more potential from the director as it is shot so fast so the prep is very strong. On a film also the prep is strong but I felt the director helping me much more on a web show because on a film there is so much more that the director had to take care of but at least here I felt that the director was there for us. There is a lot more at stake on a film whereas on a web show you know that your director will give most importance to the actor.
Anshul: Amrit (the director) was very particular and was willing to help with anything anytime. Just ping him, and he will be there for you. He behaves like our father and he gets very offended if someone tells something wrong about us. He fights for us and believes in us.
We saw you in Taj Mahal 1989 which had a lot of love stories, what can we see from your character in operation MBBS?
Anshul: In MBBS I am totally opposite! They are two different characters. Both are college students but this one is more relatable and more towards a cuter side. She is very naïve. Most of the girls will relate themselves to what Sakshi is going through. In Taj Mahal Rashmi’s character is very blunt and smart.
This series is based on college life, do you have any personal college stories to share? Any experiences?
Sarah: In college, my first day, my seniors came to rag me, and being the over smart kid that I am, I scolded them and asked them to leave the class! I was in the bad books of my seniors for the longest time. There are some ragging scenes in MBBS as well so I could relive those moments. And college life is totally different especially if you are involved in drama society in which case you end up staying in the college throughout your day.
Anshul: Even I got ragged in the first days of my college. Theatre department, English department had different sorts of ragging. And back in college there was another thrill of chilling in the night, night outs etc., because in school we had a curfew of 3pm and college life saw the difference from 3pm to 3am! That was much of an achievement for me.
Your characters are of medical students that are working so hard to crack their exams. Currently the 12th standard board exams are going on, any tips or tricks you would like to give on how to rack the exams?
Anshul: One thing used to do was make abbreviations of sentences which helped me remember the answers better. You can actually try that, you can make a song out of it and you will remember. Like how in school we used to have a song for the periodic table.
Sarah: Please don’t take your board exams to seriously, it is not the end of the world. Take it lightly and tell your parents also to not put too much pressure and give your exams calmly.
Any upcoming Bollywood films or projects that you have lined up?
Sarah: Yeah yeah, something or the other will keep happening.
Anshul: I wish I could speak about it but….you will have to wait to find out. But thankfully I have got good work.
Ayush: Of course I am trying to cut into Bollywood, it is a long dream. Ever since I have started acting, I have always wanted to get into films. Web was totally out of the blue, it just happened to happen to me and I kept doing it. But doing good stuff is what primarily matters, where you do it is secondary.
We have seen you in so many filter copy videos. Which role was your favourite one to play?
Ayush: It is so difficult to pick a favourite one. I really like working with filter copy so much because they actually gave me my debut on the digital platform and all the directors were my age, probably even younger than me. And if I wanted to make some improvisations, they would be like, “yeah of course, go ahead”, and I used to think “what! Did he just allow me to do anything?!” so then it just becomes like a creative process where everyone is involved and it becomes fun to work. It is really tough to pick any one, but I really enjoy working with Aisha and Barkha. Both of them are my favourites and anything with them is fun.
Any characters in particular that you all like to play or are looking forward to play?
Anshul: I want to play a Wonderwoman. Like I want to fight and fly and do a lot of action sequences. I am learning kick boxing also.
Sarah: I want to play a Bihari girl, someone who is not like urban. Bebaak is still a Bombay girl even though it was simple. I don’t want to play a totally rural character but a girl from Patna or Lucknow, like a semi urban town girl.
Talking about places, do you have any places on your bucket list that you are dying to visit?
Anshul: I want to go and see the northern lights! Go to Norway and explore!
Sarah: Latin America totally! But one should also explore India. There are so many beautiful places here that one cannot miss out.
Ayush: My bucket list is so big that I want to earn a lot and then go to as many places as possible. I have never been to the USA, London, and I am a huge arsenal football fan and would love to go and watch an arsenal game and I am a huge Ronaldo fan which means I will have to go to Italy to watch a game and to watch the Australian Open, I will have to go to Australia as well.
Is Bollywood a tough industry to get into? Anything you got to say for aspiring actors?
Ayush: Mostly Sane for that matter is doing fantastically well digitally. When nobody else is doing it for you, you can do it for yourself. The key is to be persistent and to just keep trying and you will get there. The longer the wait, the merrier the results.
Anshul: I think believing in yourself and your art is the biggest thing. Hard work never goes waste. It always gets to you. You will finally have a big smile on your face.
Sarah: There are so many forums where you can explore yourself that are available. Try out new things.