Social media plays a huge role in the life of an actor: Revathi Pillai

Actors Anushka Sen and Revathi Pillai alongside director Debbie Rao discuss their latest young-adult drama dil Dosti dilemma, the childhood visits to their grandparents, and more
Anushka Sen (L), Revathi Pillai (M) and  Elisha Mayor (R) in Dil Dosti Dilemma
Anushka Sen (L), Revathi Pillai (M) and Elisha Mayor (R) in Dil Dosti Dilemma

HYDERABAD : Nostalgia can bring some short-lived joy. It can be induced by certain sights, like the street that leads to your school or the familiar bells of an ice cream seller. It is also invoked through specific instances, as in Prime Video’s Dil Dosti Dilemma, where the protagonist Asmara, played by Anushka Sen, visits her grandparents for summer vacations. There is an element of sweetness and old-school comfort attached to it. Even for Sen, her holidays as a teenager were spent with her grandparents. “I used to play cards and go out shopping with them,” she says. However, the visits became less frequent with time as she started acting in television shows like Yahan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli (2009) and Baal Veer (2012), among others. “Once the promotions for Dil Dosti Dilemma are done, I will go and watch the show with my grandparents,” she says with an earnest glow in her eyes.

For Revathi Pillai, who plays Asmara’s best friend Naina, visiting her grandparents during holidays involved taking Malayalam lessons from them. “Eventually everyone gave up on me, and we just started talking in Hindi. So, today, if my Hindi is good, it is only because of them,” she reflects. Over the years, the actor has featured in many young-adult shows, but remains most popular for playing Vartika in TVF’s Kota Factory (2019). In Dil Dosti Dilemma, her character is caught in the middle of maintaining a certain image on social media, which pits her against her friends.

Pillai and Sen are quite active on social media themselves, regular in posting updates. Pillai feels that social media plays a huge role in the life of an actor. “For the longest time, I thought that what you bring on the screen is what matters, but times have changed,” she says. “Instagram now plays a major role, unlike 10 years ago. I look at it as the only place where I can remain close to the people who like to watch me on screen.” Sen, meanwhile, thinks of it like her journal. “That’s why I post a lot on Instagram. If I am travelling or doing something, I want to share it with my fans because they are like my friends.”

The show talks about superficial appearances put on by youngsters online. and how these appearances affect their relationships. Asmara lies to her friends about being in Canada by video calling them every day with an image of skyscrapers in the background. The stay at her grandparent’s place is not a casual, yearly visit; it is a punishment for her rude behaviour. Asmara’s parents want her to go back to her roots and understand life beyond her many privileges. The show is adapted from Andaleeb Wajid’s coming-of-age novel Asmara’s Summer, and director Debbie Rao was concerned not to portray Asmara as an entitled brat. “The challenge of adapting the novel for the screen was that the characters at no point should feel like they are reductive and one-dimensional,” she says. “That is why we also cast the actors close to the characters,” she adds. Sen had always dreamt of being part of a show set in this world. “Me and my best friends would watch these rom-coms featuring sweet boys, nice girls, and their friends and family,” she says. “It was really comforting, and felt like an escape to another world.”

The development of the show had begun two years before Debbie came on board as a director. She hadn’t read the novel then. “When I read it, I found that there is a certain complexity lying in the simple world of the story,” she says. “On the surface, it is about love, relationships, and friendships. But there are so many layers. I loved the potential of the novel to be turned into a show.” She feels that the show gives a new flavour to the novel.

“All the major characters are taken from the book, but the storylines were presented in such a way that each character has a journey and moments of learning. The book focused more on Asmara, but the show focuses on everybody,” Debbie says.

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The New Indian Express