Anurag Kashyap has been my godfather, says Amruta Subhash
Amruta Subhash on warding off repetitive roles, the magic of Anurag Kashyap and hoping for a divine intervention to find her characters
Amruta Subhash is very particular in choosing her roles. She was mentored by Naseeruddin Shah at the National School of Drama (NSD) and follows his advice. “Naseer sir used to tell me, ‘don’t go for characters whose conflict is not seen on screen’,” she reminisces.
Over the course of her career, she has successfully avoided being slotted in repetitive parts. She plays a serial killer’s tormented sister in Raman Raghav 2.0, the chatty neighbour in Choked, and then goes on to step into the shoes of a RAW agent in Sacred Games Season 2. Amruta is a seductress in the drama series Bombay Begums and a sensation-seeking news producer in the thriller Dhamaka.
There is, however, one common thread in some of her roles: stories of middle-class women. So when Amruta, who has mostly played supporting roles, decides to play the lead in The Viral Fever’s (TVF) Saas Bahu Achaar Pvt. Ltd where she essays the role of Suman, a homemaker separated from her husband and struggling to become an entrepreneur, springs up a question. Does she feel lured to the roles of middle-class women?
“My nanihal (grandmother’s house) was in a village so I always felt close to such women and their stories,” says Amruta. “Even when these characters are all middle-class women, they vary in their personality. Suman’s journey has been from her father’s kitchen to her husband’s kitchen. She still needs to explore the world. When I picked up Saas Bahu Achaar, it ticked all the boxes. The character had a conflict, the writing was good, and it was backed by TVF.”
It’s exciting to see Amruta finally play the lead. The typecast bug, however, has still hovered around her. “Especially after Gully Boy, I was being approached for ‘mother roles’. But that’s how this industry works. You do something good and they want to see more of that. Even the audience wants to see you in similar roles. But I told myself to say no. You have to make your space.”
A maker who has ensured diversity and depth in her roles is Anurag Kashyap. Amruta’s most impactful performances came during her multiple collaborations with the director in Raman Raghav 2.0, Choked, and Sacred Games. “Anurag has been my godfather but even when we got acquainted well, he still auditioned me for every role,” she stresses. Talking about her process, Amruta says that she prefers to have the complete script with her character outline. “It’s only with Anurag I know I can let go in a performance and he will take care of me. He takes me out of my comfort zone but doesn’t leave my side.”
The characters she plays sprout after extensive research. Amrutha prefers to meet real people and emulate their life in her performances rather than relying upon her own experiences. “As Amruta, I know I have limited experiences and if I start thrusting them on every character it won’t be different,” she explains. “I met a bar dancer in Mumbai’s red-light district, Kamathipura while researching for Lily for Bombay Begums. I found my Razia (Ranveer Singh’s mother in Gully Boy) when I visited the house of a young Muslim woman. Everytime I take up a role, I pray to the universe to show me the character.”
In the end, it all comes down to content, she feels. OTT has opened the avenues for varied material and women-centric stories. “My makers have always given me characters, even supporting ones, who have their own arc. OTT is giving space to stories of women. Content was king but now it has become queen also.”