Check out our conversation with Aahana Kumra about her new show Sandwiched Forever on SonyLiv.
As an audience, we have relied heavily on OTT shows and movies. While a lot of show producers and platforms experimented and created content entirely shot from the boundaries of actor’s home, a lot many tried their hands on the new normal of production after Unlock.
One such show that was shot in this new normal is Sandwiched Forever on SonyLiv. Gladly, the show also attempted sitcom-style shooting giving the actors of the leverage to attempt something new.
We spoke to the lead actress, Aahana Kumra about her experience of shooting for the show in the new normal and more.
Here’s how the conversation went…
How was working for sandwich forever? How will you describe your character?
Aahana: I’m playing a badminton player and she is very aggressive, she’s a go-getter, she’s the opposite of her husband. And he’s a couch potato, Kunal, just, you know, like being himself. You know! But yeah, in general, like, he’s a very like, lazy person, he doesn’t do anything. So they are complete opposites. And I think that was the beauty of creating these two characters. Her father is very ambitious about her. He wants her to excel in life. And then when she brings this boy, Samir Shastri comes in front of the Father, VK he’s like ‘kya kaddu laker aai hai’. He is not somebody who’s a go-getter. He’s very happy for his wife, doing very well. But they love each other, irrespective of who they are. I think like, this is what made the show really endearing.
The beauty of this one is because they are sandwiched between their respective parents and their parents are poles apart. There is constant bickering between the two sets of parents, and the couple and that’s what is making the entire series very endearing because things happen, things go wrong, and then, it finds its way back towards the end of the episode. Every episode has, like a really funny story and makes it very relatable for everyone. Since this is part of everyone’s life.
What made you pick the show?
Aahana: I had auditioned for the show in January, and when I auditioned for the show I really wanted to be part of it, and what really attracted me towards the show was that they wanted more rehearsal days than shoot days. And everybody who comes from theatre they love rehearsals. For 15 episodes they wanted just 17-18 days for the shoot and rest 30 days for rehearsals. So, that’s the way theatre works and that’s the way a sitcom works. This is a sitcom set up and in a sitcom setup, you rehearse. So, I got a call from them in January, I auditioned for the show, and then something didn’t work out. And then I kind of backed out. And the show didn’t happen and the makers had liked me. But it didn’t work out. Then they got another actress and then they did rehearsals with her. But then lockdown happened and that was standing since March. Then I got a call in July again saying it didn’t work out well and they want you on board for the show, they were like, will you do this? And since I was keen on working on this, because it seems like a great setup. So, we started And then we had zoom calls, we are zoom meetings, we had zoom readings and then we read the episode. And you know, I enjoyed the process of reading with everybody.
How was working with the cast of Sandwiched Forever?
Ahana: It was so good working and listening to other voices because it was a long time. Like Kunaal ki awaz sunna, Atul ki awaaz sunna, Rakesh ki. Rakesh bhai aur maine bhot kaam kia hai, Divya ma’am ke saath main pehli baar kaam kar rahi thi I know Lubna Ji very well. Atul Kulkarni ke saath main pehli baar kaam kar rahi thi and Kunaal ke saath pehli baar. So, I was very happy to work with this bunch of people because all of them have theatre experiences. They all have done theatre at some point of time in their lives. And Rohan works very well with Kunaal, Rohan and Kunaal are very close friends and they do a lot of comedy. And the writer of the show is the same writer as Kapil Sharma’s. And most importantly, I like the team because they use to do so much homework before the actors came on board. They knew exactly ki kaisa setup hoga actor kaise karega ye scene, iss mein kya punch hoga, iss mein kaise joke land karenge. You know, things like that should make it very easy for the actors because the vision of the makers was clear. When the makers are sure ki boss ye chahiye, the end goal is this and they were very collaborative about it.
How was shooting in this new normal like after shooting after unlock how was that as an experience for you?
Aahana: So, one thing that makers were very clear of everybody else can be replaced except for actors. Actors replace nhi ho sakte to kisiko bhi COVID ho gya to phir 14-din ke liye shoot band because one actor is in COVID that means all the other actors are in COVID so we were the only ones who were exempted from wearing a mask. The studio did fantastic job of following the COVID protocol. So, before we use to come to the studio, like for example, like a call time usually sometimes six, seven jo bhi hai, to hum log subah jaldi jaldi aate the so sabse pehle to there was a santization station, there used to be one place where temperature check used to happen. Then there used to be, you know, your oximeter and everything. There was an area where they would sanitise every little thing that we are carrying, only then we were allowed to go into the rooms and we were given designated rooms. Har actor ek hair or makeup ka banda mila tha and spotboy jo koi aur use nhi kar sakta tha, you know, and nobody apart from the people who were supposed to be shooting was allowed to enter the set so no visitors no nobody. The social distancing between the camera team and the actors was anyways happening because it was a multi-cam setup. So, there was no reason why a close up would happen or like a, you know, somebody would come close to do a shot with us. So that kind of social distancing was being maintained. Then we used to come in on the day of the rehearsal only, those people who are required to be in the rehearsal are allowed on set. So say, maan lijiye 20 logon ka requirement hai , kyunki ek camera, humare DOP aayenge dekhne ke liye ki hum kya movement kar rahe hai, 2setting ke ladke aayenge kyunki vo change karenge set-up yahan wahan, phir AD team mein se ek ya do log honge, phir humare jo writer hai vo hai and actors and directors. So, 20 log hote the maximum set pei think really like they have managed to like instil confidence in us during the shoot. We had a lot of confidence after the shoot. Pehle we would have been very sceptical, actors are also very sceptical because of ki kaise karenge, kya hoga, new normal mein kaam karna hai. We were very worried because see actors ka kya hai na we can’t wear a mask, our job requirement is such. So everybody else around us have to be very careful. They were sanitization stations right outside, sab box sets hote hai, vo box sets aapko pta hai na, aapne kabhi sitcome ka set-up dekha hoga friends mein, vo sets hote hai. To ek set-up khatum hua to phir bhar nikalo aur sanitization station hota tha.
Can you tell me more about the format of the show?
Ahana: The format that we followed for the shooting was that ek din hum log aake reading krte the do episode ki, to hum logon ke 15 episodes shoot kiye hai, to hum log set pe aake do episodes ki reading karte the, next day we used to block the entire episode from start to end se 15 scenes hai, to hum log uski puri blocking karte the, jo changes hone hote hai vo hum karenge, jo hum log ko, you know, extra chizen add karni hai subtract karni hai vo ussi din, blocking ke din hongi, shooting ke din we will only shoot the episode then it will be like doing the show, you know, where you come ye scene karenge, jab tak ye scene ho raha hai tum jaake change karke aao, tum wapis aao phir ye scene karenge phir tum change karke aao phir ye scene karenge phir tum change karke phir ye scene. It was literally like waiting in the wings, you know, to take your entry. When you do play that’s exactly how you do it. You wait for your entry. So we used to come in like you know, we used come and shoot the climax scene first but there was so much rehearsal that went into the show into the performance that we knew exactly we had full clarity on what we needed to achieve on the day of the shoot.
Here’s how she responded to our Never Have I Ever…
Never have I ever messaged my parent that was meant to be sent to your partner
Aahana: That has never happened. The only thing that I probably would have done that would have been like Sushi. They must have wondered why the hell I have sent them Sushi.
Never have I ever been caught by my parents while talking to the partner
Aahana: Arey bachpan se and it’s okay!
Never have I ever thought what if my parents walked-in while making out with your partner
Aahana: That has not happened while my parents walked-in but it just happened and I am right and we were just standing here.
Never have I ever spoken to my boyfriend’s parents thinking that he is on the line?
Aahana: Ya, ya that has happened hundred times. And one time it happened and I am gone like, oh shit!
Never have ever given a fake compliment to the partner to make him feel good.
Aahana: That’s the only way you can maintain relationships.