It’s a series of firsts for actors in the new Bollywood film, 3 Storeys, out in the UAE this week.
The drama, with its share of deception and intrigue, spells the end of veteran actress Renuka Shahane’s (remember the eternally cheerful wife from Hum Aapke Hai Koun..!) decade-plus sabbatical from Bollywood films, while one of its lead actors Pulkit Samrat was asked to get rid of his signature swag so that he looked the part of a lower-middle class bloke.
“I just go with the flow and work with people that I like working with ... I am happy the way the film has worked out. I feel so privileged to share the screen space with Renukaji. She’s a veteran who can get into the skin of any character. One of the things I learnt from her is how to be a child in front of the camera. She was so uninhibited,” said Samrat in an interview.
3 Storeys is a tale about a bunch of residents living in the same dilapidated building block in Mumbai and their murky secrets, which includes a box of precious diamonds.
Sharman Joshi, who plays a young man who re-discovers his lost love, says that the film has a good mix of genres.
“Apart from the mystery, it’s a slice-of-life film ... It’s a well-cast film and each actor complements the story that is being played out. We have kept the film real in terms of writing and performances,” said Joshi.
So before you peek into their lives, here are five things you need to know about 3 Storeys.
1. 3 Storeys, directed by debutante Arjun Mukherjee, is a Hindi drama set against the chawl [low-cost housing] culture in Mumbai and dwells in to the lives of the residents staying in the same building block. Their lives may look normal on the surface, but there are deep undercurrents to their existence that may shock their own neighbours who believe that they know each other well.
2. 3 Storeys boasts an ensemble cast led by talents such as Shahane, Richa Chadha, Joshi and Samrat who underwent extensive acting workshops spearheaded by Atul Mongia.
3. 3 Storeys’ screenplay is written by Dubai-based writer Althea Kaushal. It was initially a 120 page script that contained four stories, but was condensed to three tales due to time constraints. According to Kaushal, her script is a combination of bed-time stories narrated by her mother and true stories. “It’s a small film with a rich storyline. You can push the envelope with such films because there’s a certain freedom in creativity involved when the budgets aren’t as high,” said Kaushal, who has written scripts for films such as Shah Rukh Khan’s Dubai-set blockbuster Happy New Year.
4. 3 Storeys marks the return of actress Renuka Shahane in Hindi films after a 14-year gap. She plays the aged Goan-Christian character called Flory who has been a resident of that chawl in question for the longest time. She knows everyone and seems to be privy to her neighbours’ lives.
“She has seen births and marriages play out. But there will still be secrets that people harbour that they carry to their graves. These stories are a reflection of those dark secrets, those things that you want to sometimes hide from yourselves. This film plays on those elements and this film is relatable because it has the common people with some uncommon stories,” said Shahane. It wasn’t easy getting into the skin of her new role.
“Flory belongs to a different cultural milieu. My acting workshops with Atul Mongia really helped because it proved to be a great icebreaker among actors. Most of my scenes were with Pulkit [Samrat] who is a next-gen star. I was a bit apprehensive about how it will pan out. But we immediately bonded and all the things like my accent, the way I walk or my body-language were decided by my director Arjun and Atul much before we began filming,” said Shahane.
5. Samrat, who has featured in romantic films such as Sanam Re and the Fukrey series, describes 3 Storeys as a story filled with drama, intrigue and deception. The film also explores the complexities in human relationships that exist when in chawls.
“This movie will prove that no matter how well you think you know a person — be it your neighbour or friend, there may be secrets that they carry to their grave. It’s about those revelations that are kept in dark corners of the human psyche,” said Samrat in a separate interview.
He also vouches that the diamonds in the film don’t belong to Nirav Modi, the infamous diamond broker who is accused of defrauding one of India’s largest banks.
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3 Storeys releases in the UAE on March 8.