Nimrat Kaur’s terrific portrayal as Captain Shikha Sharma in ALTBalaji’s web-series, The Test Case has indeed stirred open the huge wave of ‘women going green’!! The talented model and actor who has seen emphatic success on the big screen with roles in movies Peddlers, The Lunchbox, Homeland, Airlift to name a few, has lived up to the expectations of one and all in the web-series that is presently streaming on the ALTBalaji app.
Carrying the mantle of portraying a character with lot of substance and responsibility, Nimrat sees this role of hers in the web-series as the perfect eye opener for her, and also for many women who aspire to take their own decisions and move forward in life…
In an exclusive interview with IndianWikiMedia.com, Nimrat Kaur shares her thoughts on the novel subject, her experience being part of the digital platform and much more…
You have had your share of success on the big screen. Why did you decide to test the waters on the digital platform?
Well, I will be honest with you. I did not understand the web-series to begin with. I am not a web savvy person. What I connected to immediately was the subject. They told me that I am going to play an army officer and I said I was in (smiles). Whatever I have grown to understand of the medium is that it is definitely the future and way forward where content is being brought to a radius of one foot of the audience. You do not have to go anywhere to be entertained. You can choose what you want on a couch, in the bed, in a taxi or train, literally anywhere you want to be entertained. So web-series is an interesting arena and you can find the best of talent being part of it. There is no boundary of censorship; we don’t have to think of the audience we are trying to entertain. Keeping in mind all of this, everyone from the actor to entertainers to directors working in this medium feels liberated. It helps you push the envelope.
You had a long wait for the series to get launched. After the airing of the first episode, The Test Case stopped streaming for certain reasons. How was this phase for you?
It was very difficult for me, considering the fact that I had invested lot of time into it. I wanted it to be put out there, especially because we got an overwhelming response for the first episode that got streamed. I don’t think it was budget issues as reported, as it is not accurate. I think they were waiting for the right line of direction to be followed for the show; also they waited for the rains to stop. Since most of our scenes involved outdoor schedules, it was tough to shoot during the monsoon. Also certain creative calls were taken during the time.. To tell you a fact, we were back on floor shooting as soon as it stopped shooting. Yes, it was tough as I had to keep the faith, keep the project at the back of my mind, yet be detached from it till shoot began. I did not want this to disappoint me in the case of it not happening at all. Having said this, I was always told that it is going to happen. And I knew somewhere that it was only a matter of time.
So having gone through all the tough phase during the shoot of the series, with a lot of blood and sweat invested in it, what is the feeling you have today?
In this medium, there is no box office report, no weekend report, and there are no numbers coming to us. Whatever is up on this medium will be there for the next five to ten years, or till the time this ALTBalaji all is up for the viewers to see. This is a strange new way of gauging the result of a project. We will get to know when people react on twitter, on social networks or when the numbers come out statistically. If you ask me, I feel very confident that the series will live up to the expectations of the audience. We have put our best foot forward. Everyone came back to it with vigour to shoot; all were hungry to dive in and give our best.
Yes, the schedule of shoot was very demanding and extremely unforgiving. You need to put more than four hours of content, and the genre was very brutal and pushed us both physically and emotionally. I have got blues and blacks everywhere all the time and you just have to pull yourself back and shoot. I actually saw the first six episodes during the recent screening, and my first reaction was that it was very well-paced, well-thought of and a tightly put together script. I am quite encouraged with what I saw.
What are the five memories that you will take back home after this experience?
Firstly, I will take back the feeling of being in the uniform; I can’t have enough of that. And this is the first time that I have retained my costume after the shoot. I have never done so anytime before in my career. I will never let go of that costume of mine. Yes, as I say this, I feel sad that I don’t wear it anymore as we are done with the shoot.
Secondly, I will never forget the laughter on set. I shot with a bunch of six boys and from the time the ice broke, I mingled with them just as one of the boys. It was such a hilarious and unforgettable experience; I have never had as much fun in my life. When on set, I would either be shooting or be with the boys. Except the time that I spent in the vanity getting dressed up, we used to be together. I will keep this joyous time with me forever.
Third in the list are the action sequences that I got to shoot. Never have I done action before and this was an eyeopener for me. I have never seen myself in that light; I have always been non-violent, and against raising hands or get into a fight with anyone (smiles). So this role has been a major breakthrough for me.
Also, I take back the experiences I had shooting with actors Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev and Anup Soni. It was delightful and so pleasant to work with them. There was no disagreement whatsoever, and I could not have asked for a better environment on the set. They were thorough gentlemen!!
Finally, I will take back home just the experience of essaying a part like this. I do not know whether I will get a role like this again. The fact that I was given the responsibility to essay a role that went through so many ups and downs, that too extraordinary ones were huge. This is something that I will hold on to always. As actors, we live life through our characters. And after living this character for nearly a year now, I feel privileged.
How did you manage the shoot hardships playing such a tough character? What was the inspiring factor that held you high?
Frankly it is my mindset that held me strong. I am not a quitter, unless there is no way forward, and unless I realize that there is no possibility. There is no way that I will not get up and give it another shot. I cannot live with this guilt of not trying again, and having left a job midway. That is how I have been brought up.
Coming to the broad subject of the series, how relevant do you think this subject is to the age we live in?
This is a problem that has been existing from time immemorial. In every profession and household, there is gender discrimination. Women have been denied opportunities at every step of life because of their sex. This series is an exaggerated attempt I would say, in starting to question the ideologies that are set in society, whether women should or should not be allowed to do a certain thing. The whole story is to let women decide whatever they can do or cannot do. Women should be their own decision makers. It is for her and only for her to decide what she can do and cannot do.
Let us be honest, we are not physically as strong as the man is. That’s the fact. Many a times, many of us cannot attempt what a man can do and that is a biological difference. We don’t expect a man to bear a child, as they can’t. It is as simple as that. So let us not be aggressive of the fact that women are always stronger than men. We need to be practical and understand the fact that women are capable of doing certain things and can’t attempt certain things being a woman. I don’t like it personally when an opportunity is denied and the doors get closed. I can’t accept it when a woman is not given a chance to decide on her own. Stemming from this, when there is misconduct on a woman in her work atmosphere, how does she face it; does she speak up or not, does the system support her or not!! This is the subject that this series deals with straight up and head-on. What exactly happens when the women are thrown into a testosterone-driven environment? If an untoward incident happens with the girl, how do you go through it and how do you deal with it? We have dealt with many kinds of personalities in the series. We have brought in different points of view within the show with different characters and their different ideologies. We hope that the thought resonates well and is reflective of being as close to truth and reality as possible.
What are your immediate plans now? Would you go back to the big screen, or stick to the web for more challenging roles?
No doubt, I will want to do something completely different now. Certainly, movies are my first love. That’s the medium that holds lot of novelty in my heart and thoughts. Yes, I would look at what I am going to sign next. But I haven’t formalized anything yet. I can tell you that I have one foot in Hollywood, where I am looking at offers that are coming my way. If not a movie here, I would do something there. That’s what it is going to be. I will not do a web-series again anytime soon. I would like to see how this pans out, and what the reactions are.
Before ending our talk, what are your expectations from this web-series?
I want it to be watched widely; I want it to be a genuine conversation starter. One interesting fact is that, when we were done airing the first episode, I remember getting into a conversation with someone who said that it was very much far-fetched and unrealistic to show a woman as a defence minister. The feeling was that, agreed that you are trying to create an environment by showing some unusual circumstances, but this does not happen. But within months, it was uncanny that we had the first woman Defence Minister of our country taking charge. We were just lucky that we aired the episode before it could really happen. We are very lucky that we have timeline proof that we came first with the thought, and reality came later (laughs). So to air all the other episodes at this point, with that in the story is very interesting.
Also I really wait to see the first woman to get commissioned into the Special Forces as a commando. This is at the end of the day, fiction. Reality is a different ball game altogether. So I want to see how close this is to an occurrence like that, which I feel is just a matter of time. As you can see, the whole idea of this series came up from the fact that the Honourable President of India has declared that women should be included in the Special Forces. So I would like this to be watched widely; I will love to know what people think of it. We will want to know whether they agree to whatever has been shown or do they disagree with it. Do they like how the series has been treated or not! This is where the audience will come in and make it their own!! I can only pray for that.