Trial and error: Piyush Mishra and Kubbra Sait talk about their new web series Illegal

The actors who play key characters in the new drama, Illegal, talk about the show and life at home during the pandemic

Ayesha Tabassum Published :  21st May 2020 04:37 PM   |   Published :   |  21st May 2020 04:37 PM

Piyush Mishra and Kubbra Sait

Legal proceedings aren't always just about heated arguments in the hall of justice. They are often manoeuvred and manipulated from outside the courtroom by litigants involved in the case, and also by those who stand a chance to gain from it. Illegal, the new series on Voot Select, explores this nexus between calculative shysters, unscrupulous politicians, and sly businessmen.

Starring Piyush Mishra, Kubbra Sait and Neha Sharma, the fictional legal drama that analyses our system of justice, has been received well. Piyush plays the role of Janardhan Jaitley aka JJ, who runs one of the top law firms in Delhi, and Kubbra is cast as Meher Salaam, a serial killer on death row who is often brutalised in prison.

Unravelling layers
JJ is one of the most complex characters of the narrative, and Piyush says, it was this attribute that drew him to the project. “The characters in this script are quite layered and are written with a lot of intensity. JJ is a manipulative man, who handles every situation calmly. He comes from a Hindi-speaking background but has adopted a modern lifestyle. He blends in easily with politicians an d the urban milieu. All these factors drew me to the role,” reveals the actor.

Piyush who is known for his memorable performances in films such as Gulaal, Maqbool and Gangs of Wasseypur, ventures into the OTT space with this series and has his reasons to do this show. “I liked the story. If it was just a courtroom drama it wouldn’t have been as interesting as it is now. The narrative captures the politics that go on outside, and how media plays a critical role in certain cases. The way things are manipulated, the involvement of politicians, and my character’s relationship with his son and wife, his trainees and colleagues, all these elements make it interesting,” offers Piyush.

Steely grit
Kubbra, who came into the limelight after she played Kuckoo in Sacred Games, isn’t new to the online space. However, the actor does admit that this role is nothing like what she has played before and that’s what prompted her to grab the opportunity. “Meher is a woman who just wants to get done with her death sentence. She is brash and unapologetic. I had to play this role with utmost honesty. Nothing could have prepared me for the role, I just had to go on sets and be Meher,” says the actor. The character’s idiosyncrasy of spouting Hindi couplets and phrases adds an edge to the role and this challenged Kubbra for a different reason. It was the first time the actor managed to deliver such complicated words in Hindi. “I have never spoken such advanced Hindi in my life ever,” she quips.

Kubbra’s acting prowess was seen in Sacred Games in which she portrayed the role of a transgender woman. Her most recent outing was in the film Jawaani Jaaneman as the quiet and sophisticated Rhea. Through all her roles, she has showcased her versatility. “Sacred Games brought me to the forefront and I am extremely grateful for it. But I feel I am on a beach with an ocean of opportunities lying ahead of me, I just need to explore more,” she says.

For now, both the actors, like the rest of the country, are under lockdown and are enjoying the success of Illegal. However, unlike most celebrities who seem to be getting creative during this period, both Piyush and Kubbra reveal they are waiting to get back to work. “This is not solitude, this is imprisonment. It’s like a jail. In imprisonment you can’t be creative,” signs off Piyush.

If not an actor what would you be?
A techie or a salesperson.
What are you most excited about right now?
Grocery shopping.
Three things you want to accomplish before the end of this year?
I want to write a book, travel and get waxing done.
What’s the best part about being a celebrity?
I was shopping for groceries recently at a store. I was wearing a mask, yet someone recognised me and I felt so elated.
The worst part about being a celebrity is?
Getting trolled, I am usually very careful about what I put out on social media. But I still get trolled. What’s one secret that nobody knows about you?
I hate brushing my teeth. I had so many cavities as a child. But during the lockdown, I have been brushing three times a day.
Who is your lockdown partner?
Shifu, my cat. He hates me right now.
What are you watching currently?
A lot of documentaries and films. I just watched A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.
Describe yourself in three words:
Uncensored, infectiously positive and greatest hugger.
Your brother Danish Sait is?
The true legit star and I am his biggest cheerleader. I get to see all his clips before he posts on social media.

Who are the poets or writers that have inspired you?
I get inspired by anyone who writes about the common man and daily life.
Where do you derive ideas from, for your poetry?
I just need a subject. If something happens around me, I just write about that, it could be any topic. What are you writing now?
I am trying to rework the play Hamlet Kahin Bombay Nahin Gaya.
What’s happening with your band, Ballimaran?
We had a lot of shows lined-up in Jaipur, Allahabad and other cities, and I had a play ready but all my shows got cancelled and it has impacted me. Cinema is just my bread and butter, but poetry, theatre and the work I do with my band keeps me going.
What are you watching currently?
I watch television to know if the vaccine for Covid-19 has been formulated or not.
What’s your advice to aspiring writers and actors?
Keep writing... Don’t be afraid of writing. Keep acting, if you think you are bad, try again.
What do you have to say about people who imitate you:
I don’t think my voice is worth copying, I feel I have a defect in my speech and I try to correct it. I have heard about (fictional film commentator) Fitoor Mishra’s movie reviews, that’s supposed to sound like mine. It feels nice.