• Tuesday, March 05, 2024

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Debutant Moses Koul on playing Sharan Gujral in Class: ‘This character is a little away from what people usually expect and accept’

By: Mohnish Singh

Only a few shows mostly featuring a bunch of debutants have been as successful as the teen drama Class, one of Netflix’s most recent offerings which has been trending on the platform ever since premiering on February 3. The eight-part series stars Moses Koul in a very layered and complex character and the debutant leaves no stone unturned to fully embody his character and deliver a stellar performance that has received a rousing response from critics and audiences alike. Prior to getting the role, Moses used to work as a musician. So, what prompted this sudden swift to acting?

In a freewheeling conversation with Eastern Eye, Moses talks in detail about how he landed his first role as an actor. He also talks about the riotous success of Class, how he played the part so convincingly, his family’s reaction to the show and his performance, and much more.

Your debut show Class has turned out to be an instant success. What kind of response have you been receiving?
The response has been fantastic. Honestly, Sharan Gujral, which is what I play in Class, is extremely multi-layered and a bit of a difficult cookie to crack because of how he is mentally, what he is going through, and his way of dealing with situations. I would say, this character is a little away from what people usually expect and usually accept as well. It’s easier for a bad guy to be a good Indian, it’s easier for slightly trickier to be taken and accepted very quickly but Sharan Gujral has genuinely been accepted and so nicely. I have been receiving such beautiful messages. Honestly, it’s been amazing.

Debutant Moses Koul on playing Sharan Gujral in Class: ‘This character is a little away from what people usually expect and accept’Were you expecting the show would gain you so much attention?
Before the show came out, I was a little hesitant (about the character). Sharan Gujral as a character really spoke to me when I first read it and, to be honest, that was the only character I had auditioned for. I was like ‘I really hope I am able to do justice to this character’ because there are very fine lines between it becoming unrealistic and becoming gimmicky. I prayed I was able to really get Sharan across to people. I am glad they are really appreciating him and really understand his motive behind everything that he does in the show, basically.

The critics have been raving about the show ever since it came out. Were you expecting this kind of response before the release?
Well, to a certain degree, when we were shooting it and the way we were shooting, it was so pedantic and particular that we were not letting anything be out of place, and that’s also how Ashim Ahluwalia (director) shoots. He is very particular about everything. So, we knew that whatever we were shooting was the best we could do. We could manage within the pandemic; mind you, we shot for the entire shoot during the first and second waves of COVID. To a certain extent, you expect the show to do well but beyond that is out of our hands because we were also like very pleasantly surprised by the way people have been talking about it, and the critics are talking about it.

Debutant Moses Koul on playing Sharan Gujral in Class: ‘This character is a little away from what people usually expect and accept’Please continue…
The fact that the youth has really come forward and embraced and accepted the show has been beautiful. It has been amazing. Barring a few, most of the cast members are first-time actors. I have never ever been to elementary school. I am a musician. I primarily work with Arijit Singh and Divine, the rapper, so that’s where I usually come from, but this audition just came to me during the pandemic. For the first few months, I didn’t even audition. I was under the pretext that I don’t even know acting and things won’t work out for me. You won’t believe it, but when I got this show when I landed in this show, and when I was shooting this show, my mom was like, “I love you, my son, but will you ever be able to act?” So, it has been absolutely like a magical journey from the pandemic where all the shows had shut down and I couldn’t get music shows and I was just sitting at home, this audition coming to me and then eventually I bagging the show. So, it has been really, really beautiful.

It’s really great and surprising to know that you have played the character so beautifully with no experience in acting at all.
I really appreciate you saying that because genuinely, I have played a character who is so different from who I am because his orientation is different from mine, his experiences are different from mine, and I also do not come from a family that is that rich. My dad has a job and my mom is a homemaker, so I do not feel like these people. I live in South Delhi, and I have seen these people but to play that character and to play that convincingly and that too with absolutely no acting background was very, like a proper effort and I had to really sit down. In fact, I would like to share a small story with you. I moved to Bombay now, but when I bagged the show, then I used to come to Lodhi Gardens and I used to sit and I used to just imagine what Sharan Gujral would be like, and today, after all that time, I have again arrived at Lodhi Gardens, just to say thanks to the trees and birds and nature for just giving me the sense of this character, and now I am talking to you sitting in Lodhi Gardens.

Not that you have been receiving accolades for your debut show, is music going to take a back seat in the future, or will you work on both simultaneously?
Not at all. I forgot to mention that on this show, in a special episode 6, there is a scene where there is a band playing. I made the music for that scene. I am actually going to start my solo project on the basis of this, so music is not going to take a backseat. In fact, I am going to do more music in films and OTT, and web shows. I will audition, work hard and do my bit but I think music is also something that I really enjoy. You know, in a scene, when you add music to it, it completely changes the vibe. Especially with the music on this show, which has been received so well, and which was also done by my friends. They worked on the music for the show. So, it will definitely not take a back seat. In fact, it is going to take the same seat as acting. So, both acting and music will be front and center.

Debutant Moses Koul on playing Sharan Gujral in Class: ‘This character is a little away from what people usually expect and accept’What, according to you, has been the most difficult scene to shoot in the entire series?
I think the intimacy scenes were definitely a little difficult for me to perform. I think that’s difficult for anybody, especially for a first-time actor. To act out things in which you are completely comfortable in one thing but then to act in front of people, things which are really bare-boned, intimate scenes are definitely difficult. My arch also delves into that aspect of human nature. So that was difficult and just how mentally disturbed and mentally not at peace Sharan is and that is perhaps like most of the arch after a point for Sharan because he is bullied and he is called names and his own friends have given up on him and they are making fun of him. I feel that was really challenging purely because, as a child, I was bullied a lot in school. So somewhere, maybe not for the same reasons, it used to come back and I kind of would feel a little knot in my stomach. I was like, “All these childhood memories are coming back at me,” which I didn’t want to happen. To be a first-time actor, to do those kinds of scenes, and to make sure that they are coming across well, there is a certain amount of pressure. So, all of it combined used to be difficult but the thing is that my co-stars were really amazing. My director also helped me a lot.

Were there any workshops?
Yes, at the start of the show, we had acting workshops for a bit. We were trained by this wonderful, wonderful coach called Pushpendar Singh. He is also a director, and he was the one who trained us.

Did your family watch the show? What was their reaction?
My family saw it on the first day. They just binge-watched it. They loved it; they absolutely loved it. They were very surprised that I could act first. Whatever acting I did, they were very surprised and the next thing they said was, “Okay, this is done, so you have done what you had to do, figure out what’s next for you.” They were very happy and very proud of what I have done. So, yeah, their response has been amazing.

Class is streaming on Netflix. 

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