Bandish Bandits’ lead pair, Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Chaudhry, talk about their debut musical series
With Friendship Day around the corner there couldn’t have been a better show than Bandish Bandits — a musical journey of two youngsters who form a music band — to celebrate the occasion. Releasing this August 4 on Amazon Prime, this original series will trace the journey of a pop star Tamanna Sharma and an Indian classical singer Radhe played by newcomers Shreya Chaudhry and Ritwik Bhowmik.
The series has been directed by Anand Tiwari and conceived and produced by Amritpal Singh Bindra and has a stellar cast including Naseeruddin Shah, Kunal Roy Kapur, Atul Kulkarni and Sheeba Chhadha. What’s more, it also marks the digital debut of the celebrated musical trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy with some sonorous original tracks. Close on the heels of its release we had a chat with the young lead actors Shreya and Ritwik about their dream launch. Excerpts:
How has the experience of acting in Bandish Bandits been?
Shreya Chaudhry: It is an amazing launch. The kind of actors and crew involved including director Anand Tiwari and composers Shankar Ehsaan Loy, at times feel incredible and I have to pinch myself. I couldn't have asked for a better launch.
Ritwik Bhowmik: It’s a dream debut for any actor and you are also being launched on a platform like Amazon, where audiences from about 200 countries will get to watch our show.
How was it working for a musical?
SC: Most of us, during our growing up years, had aspired to be a singer at some point and that includes me too. So, to be able to play a pop star is like living one of my childhood dreams.
RB: I’ve been a huge fan of all sorts of music including Indian classical and I grew up listening to a lot of them. But I never actually imagined I would be playing an Indian classical singer. It was incredible and intimidating at the same time.
How did you prepare yourself?
RB: There were rigorous workshops conducted by Akhshat Parikh throughout the shoot and before, and he taught me from scratch not only how to lip-sync to the songs but also initiated me to the culture, values and history of the rich musical heritage.
Did you end up liking classical music?
RB: That’s all that I listen to nowadays. I wake up listening to the tanpura and end my day with a few classical ragas. I am a huge fan of Mohammad Amaan, who has also sung for me in this series. Also, I listen to a lot of Bhimsen Joshi and Javed Bashir.
Shreya, playing a pop singer must have been quite a challenge since there have been such characters portrayed onscreen before?
SC: When I was offered the role of Tamanna Sharma, I consciously didn’t follow any pop icon for inspiration since I didn’t want anyone to tell me that Tamanna reminded them of any particular singer. In fact, the character has been scripted so well that I internalised it and built on it with help from Amrit and Anand. The most beautiful thing about Tamanna is her entire graph in this series and what she goes through, she has her own journey, which itself is engrossing.
How was it working under Anand Tiwari?
SC: It was so good. We have been yelled at, we enjoyed together, we celebrated together and confided in him. He has become an integral part of both of our lives.
RB: I found a friend, a guide and a confidant in him and teacher is too small a word to describe him. Both Anand and Amrit held our hands throughout the journey.
What was the highest number of takes you had to undergo?
SC: I really didn’t count but there have been occasions when I had to go for several takes.
RB: I remember because there has been a certain kind of shot and whenever that took place, I had to go through more than a couple of takes. Some ADs and I used to bet on how many takes I would take and one time, I bet that it would be around 13 takes. I finally okayed it after 15 takes.
How was it working with each other?
RB: Oh! I hated it, I don’t like her at all (laughs).
SC: A very bad liar! I am his most favourite co-star (laughs). To be honest, the best part is we never sat down and thought about it at all since we were so comfortable with each other and had one goal — to do well for the show. We worked hand-in-hand and helped each other. He is not only Radhe to me, he is a friend and a very kind co-actor.
RB: From the day I met her till today, I believe there couldn’t have been a better Tamanna. She is fantastic.