Exclusive: Avinash Tiwary talks about his character Ritwik Mukerjee in Kaala

Exploring the world of the black market economy with reverse hawala, Kaala, written and directed by Bejoy Nambiar, is all set to premiere this Friday on OTT. Produced by Bhushan Kumar and Krishan Kumar, the upcoming crime thriller follows Ritwik Mukherjee, an IB Officer who is dedicatedly investigating the major reverse hawala case without any hesitation.

In an exclusive interview with Filmfare, Avinash Tiwary opens up about his journey to become Ritwik Mukherjee and reverse Hawala.

You are working with Bejoy after 13 years, so what was the thing that intrigued you to take this role?

So, we shot a music video 10–13 years ago. There was a music video we made called Khoya Khoya Chand, which is a song from Shaitaan, and while working on that video, he said that he would want to work, and I was an aspiring actor, trying to find jobs here and there, and it stayed with me that there is a man who’s made a film, wants to do a film with me, and made a promise to me. It always stayed in my heart.

Over the years, we did come across a couple of projects that, for some reason, didn’t work out. And when he came with this one (Kaala), I was busy with something else, and I thought I would lose out on the opportunity again.

Until he came back six months later again, and when he did, I willingly jumped on it because he came up with a completely fresh idea to me. He said, “There is something like reverse hawala?” to which I said, “What is it?” and he started talking about how this whole syndicate works, and it really excited me.

Also, to play an IB officer who has this dark, traumatic past that drives him to take on this world. The character had a certain sensitivity, which I think is rare in a cat-and-mouse chase storyline like that, and eventually the guy turned out to be unstoppable. You know, whatever the challenges, he’s bruised and battered, but he gets up, and he is the last man standing. So, that in itself really excited me. It’s a complex story, it’s layered, and it has various tracks that bring in all the high-octane feel to it. I couldn’t have allowed this to go away from me. I’m so glad that after 12–13 years, Bejoy and I work and come with Kaala, and I hope everyone likes it when they see it.

What were some of the keynotes that you took from Bejoy Nambiar to tap into the multi-shaded sides of Ritwik Mukherjee?

I think, thankfully, over the years, I’ve been able to earn some trust from him. So, he gave me the script and said, “Tu bana.” But we did talk about the manifestations of his traumas or the life that he has lived in the past. How does it manifest in real time? We spoke about those things. In fact, if you see that he (his character) is battered throughout, I don’t think there is a single shot where he is not hurt. I wasn’t sure if I should do something like this because half the face is broken throughout. But in itself, the storyline, and what his intent with the character was, I felt like I wanted to do it. So, we spoke about the intricacies and the detailing of how those things will manifest in real-time.

Avinash Tiwary Kaala

You have two series releasing back-to-back; how do you feel about that?

Excited. Joyous. To get a sense of this you should walk into my house because my parents are here, my other extended family members have come home. I walk in and it feels like there is a festival going on because everyone is getting ready. I’m leaving every morning. Yesterday, we had a small screening, so the entire family came. They all got ready to come for the event. So, it’s a joyous mood.

I feel like eventually over the period of time the credibility that you earn eventually comes together for you, There is a magic of compounding, so all the years that you’ve invested in the efforts it somehow starts coming through together. I think both these shows (Bambai Meri Jaan and Kaala) are coming together on two big platforms, both of them tentpole. I think it kind of is a conclusion of all the efforts and credibility I’ve earned over the time. So, right now for me, it’s only time to celebrate.

What were some of the characters you referred to while preparing for this role?

Nothing. This was absolutely a clear sketch. Youread the story, you think of the guy and you start creating him. I don’t think I had any references for it because I couldn’t find one, the storyline in itself was very different.

Yeah. I’m not someone who uses references to create characters most of the time. Because I’ve had a very wholesome and fertile life, I would say. I have enough instances and enough things in my life to pick on and create characters. So, I haven’t used references in my work as of now.

Do you feel more fulfilled as an actor in OTT shows and movies?

I am in a space right now, thankfully, that I can be in theatres, I can be on OTT, I can be on television, I can do whatever I want and that is a beautiful space for an actor. The mediums are opening up. We are opening up to the world. I have a feeling that because of the fact that OTTs reach out to 240 countries, we are here now to create newer markets in the world and not just cater to the Indian audiences but cater to the global audience and I think it’s time now for India to start creating content for the world because we consume a lot.

Avinash Tiwary Kaala

What were some of the things you learned from your co-stars while filming this show?

Most of my work on this show has been by myself. But I want to make a mention of Niveta Pethuraj. She’s a star in the South, and she was not familiar with the language.And the amount of effort she put in is commendable. She had such a great ability to stay calm. And at the same time, deliver when it’s required. That is something that I definitely admired. I would want to adapt that in my life. And I hope she keeps doing well because she’s a cracker.

Kaala also stars Rohan Vinod Mehra, Nivetha Pethuraj, Taher Shabbir and Hiten Tejwani besides Avinash Tiwary. It is slated to premiere on September 15 on OTT.

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