Actor Rasika Dugal played an IPS trainee Neeti Singh in the first season of the International Emmy Award-winning web series, Delhi Crime. In its second season, slated to release this Friday on Netflix, she will be reprising the character, who has now grown on to become a police officer.
In an exclusive chat with News18, she talks about picking up nuances and traits of an officer from a real-life cop and being “a fly on the wall” during the process. She elaborates, “I shadowed a police officer in season one. I called her up when I was prepping for season two and funnily enough, she is now in the same rank that my character has been promoted to. That was a beautiful coincidence. When you do prep work for a show like this, it’s not possible to just go and have a conversation. You’ve to be a fly on the wall because you can’t intrude into someone’s space and ask them about their life.”
Dugal asserts that a mere impersonal exchange with subjects never help an actor, even for those who prefer method acting. “It never works like that and in my opinion, it’s detrimental to our preparation process,” she states, adding, “You’ve to find that sense of comfort with the other person or give it enough time so that they feel comfortable enough for you just watch them work. If anyone comes to a set and watches me work, I won’t be comfortable and there will be some degree of posturing on my part. But once the first two days of posturing is over, there’s a lot you can observe.”
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Shedding further light on the process involved in slipping under the skin of her character, the Mirzapur actor adds, “When I’m watching a person working, it’s not like I can take a certain part of them and use it in a scene. It’s more like an experience where some images remain in my mind, which I recall while shooting. So, the prep work was never enquiry-based.”
Dugal praises the writers for humanising the cop characters in the web show, a phenomenon that’s not quite prevalent in mainstream cinema. She also credits the officer she based her research on for helping play her part through the lens of sensitivity.
“When I met the lovely girl, I realised that she has become so much more comfortable in her job as an officer. There was a lot of confidence and strength but there was also a gentle quality in her. She had a gentle exterior. I almost felt that the people who came to the police station to speak to her calmed down because of her presence. That quality stuck with me when I played Neeti Singh in this season,” she explains.
Dugal tells us that she realised there’s a common thread connecting actors and cops. She admits, “Their (cops) profession is extremely unpredictable and is full of uncertainties much like an actor’s. But the stakes are so much higher for them. I remember having dinner with the officer I shadowed and then we went home. She called me up after sometime and told me that she’s leaving for a hospital because of a shoot-out that happened outside it. That’s the kind of life they lead.”
The 37-year-old further continues, “After a long day’s work is done and they go back home, they might have to leave their houses again because it could be a life-and-death situation for someone else. I’ve watched these police persons in their personal and professional spaces and all of that influenced my character.”
Dugal shares that the factor that primary drew her to the second season of Delhi Crime was the way in which her character is “struggling to navigate through life at work and at home”. “This is the one track I was very moved by because it tells the story of a working woman in a patriarchal society like ours where they are expected to straddle both worlds whereas the men tend to have it easier because nobody expects much from a working man. I’ve seen it around me growing up. I’m very curious to see how the audience reacts to this track,” the Made In Heaven and Out Of Love actor remarks.
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