By Akshay Acharya
Mumbai, Nov 30 (IANS): Kunal Kohli's slice-of-life show 'Hiccups & Hookups' opens the leaf for Lionsgate Play's India chapter.
The show which stars Lara Dutta in her digital debut, Prateik Babbar and debutante Shinnova, tells the story of Rao family - a modern no-holds-barred Indian family when it comes to conversations.
Kunal Kohli, Prateik Babbar and Shinnova, spoke with IANS about the idea and intent of the show, it's world and how families can normalize the subjects that are unspoken and unheard of in homes.
Choosing a bold subject like this can either trigger a cultural change or it may evoke an unexpected reaction from the audience, commenting on his creative choice, show director Kunal Kohli says, "Bold is a subjective term, family is the most important aspect of any person's life. A family gives you the best advice in any scenario. But when it comes to sex education any other intimate topic, why do we shy away from discussing subjects like this from our family? This is what we intend to showcase in the series about being open with regards to all aspects of your life to your family".
For Shinnova, who makes her debut with the show, the journey has been a learning curve, as she says, "It was such a wonderful experience, they all (the entire cast and crew) made me really comfortable. I have learnt from everybody, the director and my fellow actors. I'm inspired by Lara Dutta, she keeps giving me tips, Kunal taught me a lot about camera facing and Prateik is an amazing person to talk to and jam on sets".
Prateik, who plays the CEO of a dating app and Lara's brother in the show is the driving force of the show, who triggers changes in the life of Lara's character of Vasudha. Talking about his character, Prateik says, "What's interesting for the audience is that my character lives with his sister and his niece. Being the CEO of a dating app, he helps his sister with regards to dating good men and helps revive her sex life".
In the same vein, Shinnova sheds light on her character, the debutante states, "My character is of a teenage girl, who feels she knows more than the adults. She's a cold person and quite a rebel. Prateik's character is the one, with whom she gels the most. Initially, she has a turbulent relationship with her mother played by Lara like it happens with every teenager but it eventually gets better".
She also stresses on the importance of open door conversations in families as she says, "I remember, as a teenager, I couldn't speak to my mother about a lot of things. When you can't talk to family members openly about something, you go to your friends but they may not always be well-equipped to solve your problems. Family should be a space where you can express yourself without the fear of being judged".
Ask Kunal how he weighs in on the relationship between risk appetite and artistic excellence, Kunal has a rather pop culture reference-driven response up his sleeve, "As one of the biggest OTT hit shows ('Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story') says, 'Risk hai toh ishq hai (where there's risk there's love and fun)'. Risk is involved in everything. This year, I made 'Ramyug', and a few people objected to that also".
He changes the course of his response and turns into an existential remark saying, "The world is such that people can object to anything, as an artiste you can't afford to get tied down or become so scared that you end up not creating anything. People, who object to any type of content, first need to understand the intent of the creator, filmmaker and the platform."
Affirming his stance, the director further says, "None of us are here to make shocking content, we are here to make good content that makes a difference. Lionsgate is an internationally renowned and responsible production house. Lara hasn't done anything like this earlier, I or even Prateik haven't done anything like this earlier. For Shinnova, it's her first project. So, we are all responsible people. Subject could be something that might not come across as comfortable to some people but, we have said it in a very comfortable way because we are clean-hearted people".
Prateik concurs as a closing remark, "We have made a fun show with fun characters with a great message at its core".