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Coupling @ Mausams

Welcome back to Mausams! As promised at the end of last year, we’re happy to give you a sneak peek into the lives and minds of our leading couple, Naren and Poorna.

Naren and Poorna are both very different individuals in real life vs. the characters they’ve played in Mausams. Naren plays a young man striving to make it big in a non conventional career path (in reality, he is reasonably happy with his conventional career choices).

Poorna, on the other hand, plays a young girl who is fairly eager to be married. In reality she is already married and insists that not being so would not have made her the desperate bundle of nerves that her character turns into. There’s much more to life, she insists. (I already like her!). Read on to hear what they have to say about their debut project – Mausams.

Me: As we start, I’m going to ask you the 1st question I usually ask the Mausams cast during interviews. Have you acted before?

Naren: Not really. Not at this scale anyway. I’ve done plays in school and more recently in NUS (National University of Singapore). But never something with so much screen time, and never in an actual movie!

Poorna: Ditto. I’ve done stuff in school that doesn’t quite qualify as something to feature on my acting resume. I’m amazed that Shilpa actually had the faith that I’d be able to do justice to her vision for this character.

Me: So how did you both stumble upon the project that is Mausams? How do you know Shilpa?

Naren: Shilpa and I go back almost a decade actually. We met in Bhavan’s Thrissur where she was my senior and later in NUS as well. I didn’t really know her until she started her 1st production (a musical named Bollywood Beats) in which I played a cameo role and danced a little. More recently I acted in a short film ‘It’s Magic’ that Shilpa directed (and won a lot of accolades for, incidentally J) and I guess that’s how she thought of me when she finally decided to make her 1st proper movie.

Poorna: My story is less impressive compared to the saga of Naren and Shilpa’s association. J My husband works with Shilpa and when I moved to Singapore post my wedding, I was out of a job and dreading the empty days of job hunting. To ensure I didn’t bite his head off from the boredom of it all, he coaxed and cajoled me to go audition for this friend of his who was making her 1st movie. I almost refused, but changed my mind at the last minute given I didn’t have much else to do back then. I’m so glad I did because this movie is how learned so much and met some fabulous people, Shilpa, Naren and Shweta included.

Me: Everyone I’ve interviewed for this movie (includes the editor and Shweta Sharma who plays the protagonist) has said the exact same thing so far. This movie was founded over a series of coincidences followed by some steep learning curves!

Naren: It’s true not only of our performances, but also of our relationships on set. Barely 2 or 3 of us knew each other when we started, but all the time we spent together getting better at this acting thing has made us considerably close. Shweta plays my sister in the movie and I remember this scene where she and I confront each other and things get pretty emotional.

I recall feeling distinctly brotherly towards her and realizing that somehow over the 6 months of working together, our very equation had transformed to a much more solid one. The same thing happened with Poorna (and he proceeds to clarify that this equation developed at a much more platonic level considering they’re both in committed relationships with other people)

Poorna: (Laughing) That’s true. I must say though, that while Naren and I play the so called ‘couple’ in the movie, the most openly affectionate scenes are still with Shweta who plays his sister. I’ll tell you later about the spoofs we’ve created by turning some of their scenes into romantic ones! RamC, the cinematographer, and I had a LOT of fun doing this with every character! You can put this up as a ‘coming soon’ on the website! :D

Me: Err ok! Onto another classic question. Any memorable scenes from the movie?

Naren: I think my favorites were the emotionally charged ones towards the end where we finally began to feel confident about our acting abilities. Intense scenes would get wrapped in 1 or 2 takes and Shilpa would just look at us with her jaw hanging open in surprise. She never said it, but we knew the look. It basically said, “When did these amateurs get SO good!” Those were my personal favorites :-)

Poorna: My most memorable one is this one where Naren does an almost gushy expression of “you’re gorgeous” and I’m supposed to respond in surprise with a look of utter happiness. “We want a twinkle to show in your eye!!!” was how Shilpa tried to inspire me. It failed miserably.

At this point young RamC, our cinematographer came over to me and said “Move aside. Let me show you how this is done”. Naren was flabbergasted at this turn of events and it showed in his sudden muteness. RamC then proceeded to encourage him by emphatically demanding, “Tell me I’m GORGEOUS! TELL ME!”

I’ve never seen Naren look so stumped, not even in his toughest and most emotional scenes. I laughed so much I almost cried! And I can tell you I wasn’t alone.

Me: And my very last question – tell us something we don’t know about you guys, and wouldn’t guess based on what we see in the movie.

Naren: I’m have a healthy obsession for fitness and technology – something my character doesn’t possess. Other than this I’m a pretty nice fella like the character! :D

Poorna: In the movie, I’m usually impeccably dressed and it’s easy to assume I’m like that in real life. But I’m the most un-girly girl I know and even the clothes and make up were a stretch for my real personality to take. This is why asking me to enact ‘twinkly eyes’ was requiring of talent I simply don’t possess!! And none of the clothes in the movie were mine. All the other girls just loaned me theirs (and some begged me to keep them at the end because they make me look nicer than my usual clothes). Hmpf!

And on that note, we wrap up the sneak peek into the life of the lead couple of Mausams. I hope to bring you more news from the team over the next few months. Highlights amongst these will include a music preview, a trailer, and if Poorna is to be believed, a couple of spoofs the cinematographer has hidden up his sleeve. Adios!