Actor Harleen Sethi
Actor Harleen Sethi

I loved the husband-wife dynamic in 'Bad Cop', says Harleen Sethi

New thriller Bad Cop features Harleen Sethi playing a cop and striking a blow for gender equality

Harleen Sethi’s Inspector Devika, in the crime thriller Bad Cop, finds herself in an unusual predicament. She is her husband’s (Gulshan Devaiah) superior at work. But, their professional equation is the least of her concerns. Unknown to her, the man who she thinks is her husband, could well be his estranged twin, and a conman to boot.

Written by Rensil D’Silva and directed by Aditya Datt, Bad Cop on Disney+Hotstar is an adaptation of the German series of the same name, and also stars filmmaker Anurag Kashyap as the antagonist.

Sethi divulges that apart from the charm of wearing a uniform and stripes on screen, it was the opportunity to depict what gender equality looks like that drew her to the show. “There really should not be any gender classification in professional spaces. It is okay for a woman to have a thriving professional and personal life. She never should have to compromise one for the other,” she says, adding, “I loved the husband-wife dynamic in the show; it is okay for a woman to be her husband’s boss and for them to still have a happy marriage. I hope this makes an impact.”

Talking about the success of a small-budget film like Laapata Ladies, which superseded the views of the mega-blockbuster but misogynistic Animal, Sethi says it is a classic case of art imitating life. “We (female actors) are finally getting to play diverse characters, which have agency. The writers are bringing nuanced stories and the audience is reciprocating. My character Nimrat from Kohhra, for instance, was highly appreciated and loved for all her complexities.”

Poster of Bad Cop
Poster of Bad Cop

For actors, especially emerging ones like Sethi, the layered characters are an opportunity to display their acting prowess. The feisty Devika in Bad Cop, for instance, is in stark contrast to the restrained Nimrat. The latter, a small-town Punjabi woman is as burdened by her unhappy marriage as she is by an oppressive and abusive policeman father.

Sethi first came under the spotlight for her portrayal of a woman pining for her ex-boyfriend, almost grovelling at his feet, in Broken, But Beautiful (2018). The actor confesses that she has been consciously looking to play women who seek to find their voice. “I am drawn to carefree characters; it could be because somewhere I am not that uninhibited in real life, and strive to achieve this quality of standing up for myself. I like playing strong, resilient and fierce women, who stand by their core values, as well as push the boundaries for society,” she says.

Despite spending over half a decade, however, Sethi is yet to find her footing in Bollywood. She admits it has been an uphill battle for her, like most outsiders, and the industry’s inherent prejudices only make the journey tougher. “It is frustrating when you are locked in for a project after being through the drill of auditions, and then you are simply replaced by an A-list star, irrespective of whether they have the skill set or talent for the part or not. After Kohhra, I was chosen for this big solo lead female show, but despite having cleared my auditions, including one with the director, I was replaced by someone, who may have not been as deserving,” she recalls.

But Sethi, it seems, has taken the disappointments in her stride, and is now awaiting that one project that will turn the tide in her favour. “At the end of the day, it is the director’s medium, and a lot depends on how you are portrayed, and whether the story resonates with people,” she says, adding, “I believe in divine timing, and things will happen when they do. In the meantime, you do what you do with sincerity.”

Next on the wishlist of the actor, whose Lamborghini performance a collaboration with choreographer Melvin Lewis in 2018 went viral in 2018, is a musical and comedy.

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The New Indian Express
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