Geetika Vidya Ohlyan has made her mark with her performance irrespective of the length of her role in all her releases so far. The actress who made an impressive debut with the Netflix film Soni is currently being seen Disney+ Hotstar’s thriller series School of Lies directed by Avinash Arun Dhaware. In conversation with Cine Blitz, Geetika talks about her character and her experience of working in the series.
How did your journey with School of Lies start?
It started with the casting person Sunny Dagar’s call saying this project was being made and Avinash Arun Dhaware was going to direct it. Then I had conversations with Avinash. Then I read the back stories of all the characters which were really interesting. What we see is so driven by what has happened to those people. That way of writing was very convincing.
It was difficult to make myself willing to be playing a mother to a twelve-year-old. But she was 19 when got impregnated and it was her choice not to abort that child and be a mother as good as possible. She moves from Ranchi to another city and succeeds without family support. She fights all the battles to be who she is. So, there was a lot to do with this character.
And I would still like to do much more. Because I do not come from a film family, whatever opportunity I get I give them my hundred percent even if my character is not the protagonist so that writers and directors see that potential in me that I can shoulder an entire web show or a film.
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Where do you dig into while portraying a vulnerable character like Trisha in School of Lies?
When you play a character, you have not been in real life, for instance, unlike Trisha, I haven’t been a mother in this lifetime, you focus on what the script gives you and what feels right also. Trisha’s vulnerability comes from the terrible amount of judgment she faces from everyone. She has internalized the guilt because everyone judges her. Even the police question her why her husband is not there with her. Why has the kid run away?
No matter what happens, everyone feels that they have the right to ask questions to a woman. If a man’s son is missing and he says to look for my son they will go looking for his son. But a woman is asked questions. That’s where her anger and vulnerability come from. Guilt is hammered into Trisha’s existence. If you notice, she’s having trouble breathing because she is crushed by everyone.
What did playing Trisha give you and take away from you?
It took away a lot of anxious and difficult experiences I had in the past. Because while studying body language for Trisha, I realized how anxiety, stress, and guilt shows in your body. Once you learn how it shows, you also learn how to undo it. So, it took away difficult experiences from the past. And it has given me healing and the possibility of being healthier and more joyful in the future. You channelize your experiences and thought and give them to the camera and it goes away.
You have worked with director Avinash Arun Dhaware before in Unpaused. How has your collaboration as actor-director progressed on School of Lies?
When a director casts you as Seema in Unpaused and the same director says that he’s confident enough that you’ll play Trisha in School of Lies, you do acquire respect for the director’s courage. Because not many people break class stereotypes when it comes to actors. They make the actors play the same thing that they’ve seen.
Not that I didn’t give my best to Seema, but while playing Trisha I was enjoying it because I knew that there’s a director who’s offering me an entirely different thing and I hope that I’ve made him proud.
Are you conscious about choosing work that creates more work or are you going with the flow?
I don’t always get to choose. A lot of times I get auditioned and I get rejected. And a number of times I have been invited to narrations by directors and very respectfully requested to do the part. So, when people choose to test me and reject me, I can do nothing about it. When I am asked to choose whether I want to do something or not, I choose wisely. When I have a choice, I exercise it. And I will say that despite not being from a film family, I have in the past couple of years received a lot of respect and love from several very big directors. Some love and respect have translated into projects which will release soon. Some I know will translate in the future.
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What are your upcoming projects?
The one which is closest to my heart is the one I can’t speak about. Apart from that, there’s a feature film with Sony Pictures titled Tera Kya Hoga Lovely with Randeep Hooda and Ileana D’Cruz. There’s another feature film called Opium Aman Sachdeva. There’s a feature film called Dilli Dark where I’m playing the female protagonist. And there are a few more.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you about acting?
Keep your body healthy and allow it to channelize what the script says. That’s my own advice to myself.