Despite the lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions, Swara Bhasker has had a busy 2020 and the actress says that she would be relentlessly busy with work in 2021 as well. After treating her audience with the Netflix series Bhaag Beanie Bhaag, Bhasker kickstarts 2021 with horror-comedy Aapkey Kamrey Mein Koi Rehta Hai.
Currently streaming on MX Player, the show also stars Sumeet Vyas, Amol Parashar, Naveen Kasturia, and Ashish Verma. The story revolves around four friends, Nikhil, Subbu, Kavi, and Sanki, who are delighted when they find a four-bedroom apartment at an affordable rent in Mumbai albeit in an unfinished building. But things take a turn, when they realise, they would be sharing their flat with a newly acquired roommate who is a ghost. Life gets further complicated when Mausam (played by Bhasker) comes for their housewarming party, which eventually leads to the comedy of horrors.
In debutant director Gaurav Sinha’s show, Bhasker takes centrestage as the root cause of four bachelors’ nightmares. “The challenge was playing a ghost…well, it is always hard when you play a role that requires a suspension of disbelief. Anything which is not realistic is a challenge because you have to pull it off without making it look tacky. That was a concern for all of us with Aapke Kamrey Mein Koi Rehta Hai. The challenge for me was to keep Mausam very relaxed and yet make her interesting. There are two different kinds of roles I play. It is about this regular girl in the office and then suddenly the plot takes an interesting twist. In one role she is feminine and in the other, she is a possessed alter ego of one of the male characters. It is a striking contrast and quite funny. When you are playing one character which is physically so distinctive and the other character overshadows, then one has to balance both. The show has been shot in a very realistic way. There are no horror scenes in the night. It is very edgy and ridiculous in a funny way,” says Bhasker.
The actress, who will start shooting for a film in March and will also explore the world behind the camera by turning producer this year, continues, “As long as I could convince the audience that there is this girl and there is something off about her, she is possessed…you don’t have to believe in ghost, you just have to believe in what is happening on-screen at that moment. I had to carry even the skeptical audience with me and the best way to do that was to keep the character interesting and watchable so the question of belief doesn’t matter because the audience would be interested in knowing what the character will do next. It has a very edgy and contemporary sort of writing and that kept it believable. The script was very funny, which left me excited to be part of the project. I have never worked on a genre or a character like this.”
The first part of the show — hunting for accommodation in Mumbai was relatable to the male protagonists as it has been a struggle for all four of them. As Sumeet Vyas says, “Everyone who has lived in Mumbai would be able to relate to the fact that it is really difficult for bachelors to get a space in Mumbai especially if you are an actor. That makes your life still more difficult because people feel that actors are from Mars (laughs heartily). House owners often wonder if we are going to make it into a commercial place, or will we party. When I was searching for an apartment I had to explain that I wanted the place as a study where I could read, write and none of these things require loud noise,” says Vyas. “But I have been non-committal about ghosts, I neither want to agree or disagree. Maybe ghosts exist but they haven’t met me yet so I would like to probably believe that they don’t like me,” he laughs.
One of the most exciting parts for all the actors of the show was the real-life friendship and camaraderie which they feel has translated well on screen. It’s a known fact that Bhasker and Vyas, who have teamed up in many projects in the past with box office hit Veere Di Wedding being the most prominent of all, are also good friends off the screens.
“With Sumeet I worked on a film called Sabki Bajegi Band very early on in our career where we played husband and wife, Then, after some small roles we shared screen space in Veere Di Wedding. I am really very fond of Sumeet. He is a very easy and fun guy to work with. I also knew Amol and I was getting to know Naveen, Ashish. The friendship and chemistry that the four boys shared with each other was genuine and that has translated very nicely. It was a very cozy and intimate set-up,” says Bhasker.
Parashar and Kasturia, too, feel that their close bond has worked beautifully for the film. “It worked in the fictional relationship that we share in the show. There are no filters between these four boys who work together in the same office and live together in the same house. We already knew each other’s good and the worst qualities, our secrets and also have a mutual appreciation for each other and therefore we didn’t have to pretend to be best friends. Then you are not worried about the shot, or the need to focus, or learn the lines. We were practically hanging out with each other all the time despite being given different rooms. Having a professional relationship and also having this kind of bond with your co-actor on the same project rarely happens. I don’t know if it was by design but we ended up on this project by different routes,” says Parashar.
“First few days there were only boys and I have known all of them. It was like going back to our college and school days and we forgot that we were shooting which is not a good thing actually (laughs). I am a huge fan of Sumeet so I got the chance to work with him. I worked with Swara for the first time, and she is so chilled out, she’s a very simple and grounded person. Amol and Ashish were always my good friends. I have done theatre with Amol. It was a wonderful atmosphere on sets,” adds Kasturia.
Besides the “appealing and fresh” story, the presence of Swara and Amol was an added incentive for Vyas to do the show. “It was a lovely shooting experience because we not only knew each other very well but we also like each other a lot. We keep looking out for each other’s work and that also plays a huge part when you work with those whose work you appreciate,” says Vyas, who could convince the director for a meaty part. “I like playing characters that are not remotely connected to my personality. Gaurav wanted me to play the part that eventually Naveen played and that was a pretty straightforward part. Amongst the guys, he was the most reasonable person who makes sensible decisions. So finally I played the character who was a bit of a flirt, a womanizer, who didn’t take things seriously and was more into partying. It was more fun playing someone who I am not as a person otherwise I would have played just the version of myself, says Vyas.
The show has been in news for the last couple of years, however, both, Bhasker and Vyas have their own versions as to why it got delayed. “It is an Indie film and Indie films always struggle as it is not easy to find a producer and distributor. Also, it is not the kind of film with explicit language, no sex..none of these gimmicks to pull you in. It is just the story. It becomes that much harder for producers to sell it,” said Vyas. “We shot it in 2018, then we reshot few sequences, we had to change few things to keep it relevant in contemporary times. But I think a story about four friends is always universal, friendship doesn’t age,” quips Bhasker signing off.
Aapkey Kamrey Mein Koi Rehta Hai streams on MX Player.