Tisca Chopra: Anil Kapoor is so very motivating!

It’s all about expanding horizons and exploring talent for the actor. She has no qualms about playing a mother or seductress or even an unhappy wife, provided she gets to do something different each time. Meet Tisca Chopra

Tisca Chopra has lost a lot of weight for her new role in the soon-to-be-aired TV show 24, inspired by the American television series starring Kiefer Sutherland. That’s what happens when you have Anil Kapoor messaging you at 8 am to remind you about your diet – right? Tisca, who has done her share of daily soaps and movies, talks about working with a young and energetic crew and following orders from taskmaster director Abhinay Deo. Smitten by her icon, Anil Kapoor and being in the same frame as him gave her memories worth a lifetime, she said.

What was it like working on something like 24?

24 makes you feel that television has come a long way. This series is like doing 24 films together. Every 45-minute episode is going to be like a film. It is intense when you are trying to bring in the quality of a film and the same eye to detail on TV.

What kind of action are you doing in this series?

It was a blast to do action. Now I know why guys love it so much! It gives a kick, an adrenaline rush when you do these things. Even though I am not a cop or an agent, I had super fun doing things I’ve never done before. Luckily I didn’t have to train for it, because I am expected to hold a gun like an amateur. I am not supposed to know how to hold or use a weapon, but our action master definitely taught us how to hold it and load and unload it. Of course, when the thing goes off it shocks the hell out of you, but it was a lot of fun.

Has your dream come true, now that you are working with Anil Kapoor?

Yes, in a way. It’s a feeling I can’t really explain; in one shot you get to see flashes or Mr India, Tezaab, Lamhe, all right in front of you. You are used to seeing that face on the big screen, not like this. It takes a bit of training to let go off that child in you that’s sitting in the movie hall. It’s hard to let go of that image of an iconic star who has done movies like Ram Lakhan, singing One two ka four…it’s really hard! On a different note, Anil Kapoor is so very motivating. At two at night, when you are exhausted and drained, he will come to you with a protein bar to keep your energy soaring. When I was signed on for the show he told me, ‘You will do a great work if you lose weight. Working hard, good looking, good acting – that is the mantra’. You won’t believe this, but he actually messages me at eight in the morning asking about my diet!

How many kilos have you lost for this show?

A lot. Firstly, shooting for 24 in itself makes you lose weight, ‘coz there so much work. It’s intense, action packed and you are literally shooting non-stop. You do not get a moment’s rest in the entire shooting day and it’s not even like you can chill after a shot, ‘coz after every shot you do another shot, and one more and then another shot and so on. Everyone is constantly working. After a week of shooting you actually require a week’s break, except that there is no break. The shooting itself is very hard, but after a few days off you begin to miss it. If you go to any other regular shoot, you keep wondering why are people so slow. This show keeps you on your toes.

Everyone calls Abhinay Deo a taskmaster – do you agree?

I loved Delhi Belly; when I saw it, I was laughing throughout the movie. I somehow thought he would be very different, but I was surprised. Yes, Abhinay is a hard taskmaster. He will not leave you even for a moment; he is very head strong, and so am I. So I think it’s a great working relationship. I have had the time of my life working with him.

What are your expectations from 24? Do you think the audience will buy it?

I am hoping – and so are all of us – that a new audience will emerge as a result of this show. A lot of people are craving Indian content like this. Many watch international shows – like me – ‘coz there is nothing that is inspiring or challenging mentally on TV. Ultimately we are Indians and we want to see Indians doing things like this in an Indian scenario. So 24 is that something that is from India, for Indians, by Indians. Sure, we got the format and content to some extent from the West, but we’ve made it ours now – it’s wholly indigenous. I hope there are great many takers for this.

Tell us something about your character…

I am playing Trisha Rathore – Jai Singh Rathore or Anil Kapoor’s wife. I am strong-headed woman who is very clear about what she wants in life. Before the show starts they are shown to have a problem in their marriage and when it starts, they are trying to get their marriage back together. And right in between this the ’24 hours’ happen. So they don’t know where they are with each other. There is a lack of communication that brings in a whole new confusion. The communication is not firmly established and the emotional baggage added to the mix creates more trouble.

What was your biggest challenge on the show?

For me the single biggest challenge has been to keep up the consistency and bring the detail of film work on to TV. There have been physically challenging scenes, but nothing so unusually tough.