Connect with us


Mukul Chadda opens up about his film Fairy Folk co-starring wife Rasika Dugal – EXCLUSIVE!

“It seemed challenging to take on a role like this and do it as an improv,” says the actor.



Mukul Chadda

Actor Mukul Chadda is feeling wonderful about having two back-to-back releases. His film Fairy Folk with wife actress Rasika Dugal was released in cinemas and his web show Sunflower Season 2 is streaming on ZEE5. In conversation with Cine Blitz, Chadda opened up about Fairy Folk, working with Rasika, The Office and his hunger for doing different roles.

How does it feel to have two releases back-to-back – Fairy Folk in theatres and Sunflower Season 2 on ZEE5?

Mukul Chadda: It’s wonderful. And these couldn’t have been more different. One is on a streaming platform and one’s a theatrical release. One’s an independent film. One is a franchise project that has been running now since 2021. Both characters are very different. In Sunflower, I’m playing an angry Hindi medium professor who’s got a huge temper problem. And in Fairy Folk, which is a relationship drama, I’m playing a husband. So, it’s wonderful if people can see you in different roles and projects. Nothing is more wonderful than that.

How did Fairy Folk happen?

Mukul Chadda: Fairy Folk is entirely director-producer Karan Gaur’s idea. It’s a very unusual script. Most human beings cannot come up with ideas like that. He has used the device of magical realism in a relationship drama. It’s kind of a very bizarre mix of things. Also, he had decided that he was going to make it an improvised film. He had a very clear structure of 80-odd scenes and what happens in every scene.

But there were no dialogs written. There was no clarity on how the characters will achieve a point. So, it was a very different process of how it would happen. He approached Rasika and me to come on board. I think partly maybe because we’ve done improv, partly because we’re a married couple. I loved the idea. It seemed very challenging to take on a role like this and play it as an improv.

So, we came on board. Because it’s an independent film, it requires a lot of people to come together, to kind of put in a lot of their efforts in various ways to make this film happen. It’s always difficult with an indie film to get it made, to get it released now. But there’s also a lot of joy when you’re able to do that.

Also read: Actress Madhurima Tuli: “People can pull you down, but you have to just move on in life”

Since you’re serving as an executive producer, why did the makers decide to release Fairy Folk in theatres when theatrical business is uncertain for small films?

Mukul Chadda: First of all, I’m very happy as an actor that the film is in theatre. Eventually, it may find its place on an OTT platform. But I was very happy with the idea that it was going to be a theatrical release. When you see 100-plus people watching a film along with you, it feels wonderful. And I think this film deserves that.

This is one of those periods of churn where everybody is reinventing. Even the OTT platforms are reinventing their business models and figuring out new things in subscription models and pricing. And in these circumstances when nobody knows what’s going to happen, I think Karan had a point, which was when these things are churning, let’s try it. What is the real downside for us? I mean, at one level, when you are a small film, there isn’t as much pressure on you in terms of the box office race of 100 crores. So, your idea is that you want to release the film in a way that as many people who can see it, see it in a communal setting. People have come out and said so many lovely things about our film. So, I think in some sense we said, let’s try it, and we’ve gone for it.

The film also had its festival run before its theatrical release. Tell me about a reaction to the film that has stayed with you.

Mukul Chadda: This film speaks about so many different aspects, so many different things – gender identity, desire in a relationship, social construct around that desire, and the futility of desire. Anybody who’s been in a relationship will relate to it in so many ways in the course of watching an interesting story. I’ve had the privilege of traveling with this film to Sydney, to Chicago, to Delhi, and then now in theatres here in Mumbai.

In the Chicago festival, we were put in the comedy category and also in the LGBTQ category, because it is a kind of film that cannot be labelled. In Sydney, they called it a relationship drama and a magical realism. It’s related to people in different ways.

Also read: Fighter villain Rishabh Sawhney: “I’m open to playing more negative characters, but…”

You were working with your wife Rasika Dugal for the first time on screen. Take me through that process.

Mukul Chadda: Rasika and I have done a few ads together in the past. We have also been part of an improv group. But we are working on a full-length feature film together for the first time. We’re playing the leads as well as a couple in the film.

I kind of know what she’s like as an actor and how focused she is on her craft. Also, we both are of the view that when you’re working with a co-actor, you kind of trust each other. You never tell the co-actor what they should do, or you don’t pre-plan things. We leave it to the other actors to do what they’re doing and trust that they’ll do the right thing, and you kind of just react to it. And so that makes it very easy also to work with people.


Also, in Fairy Folk, because it was improvised, there was no pre-planning of any kind where you discuss how the scene should go. You’re being thrown into the wild, into the deep end, and you just have to sort of swim and figure out the scene for yourself. So, I think with all the actors, you had to have that respect and camaraderie. If you didn’t have it, it wouldn’t have worked. And luckily with Rasika, there’s a lot of respect and trust for her work. I think she’s a fabulous actress, so it made it easier.

What’s the best part of being married to a fellow actor?

Mukul Chadda: I think the best part, I would certainly say, is that our lives are slightly different from most people’s lives. Sometimes you’re working nonstop and not able to spend any time at home. And there are also periods when the reverse is true when you’re sitting at home. And I think the good part about having an actor as a partner is that there is an immediate understanding of what the other person is going through, because you both may be going through that at the same time or at different times.

Also read: Goutam Ghose: “I do not desire to act at all, though I agreed to act in Beyond the Clouds”

Did you feel pressure while playing the role in The Office because Ricky Gervais and Steve Carell had made the role iconic?

Mukul Chadda: I did feel the pressure of doing a good job because it was my first lead role in a very big show. It was not easy to get a hang of Jagdeep Chadda, to make the comedy work. This character says and does things that are so bizarre and so difficult, and to make them real, to make them feel natural to the character, to build that character, was always tough. So, I felt that pressure constantly in terms of getting it right.

But I don’t think I had the time to think about the pressure of, oh, my God, what did Ricky Gervais or Steve Carell do? What will people think? I think that was not in my mind at all. I actually hadn’t watched The Office before I started working on the Indian adaptation.

I don’t think the challenge ever dropped off. It’s not as if after you’ve done five or six episodes and you’ve got positive feedback from the studio that you think, okay, now I’ve nailed this. Because that role is so challenging that with every new script and episode, I felt, oh, my God, how am I going to do this? So, that pressure and that challenge was always there in a good way, and it’s always a lovely thing that it’s there.

So, at the current stage in your career, what is your state of mind? Which direction do you want to head into from hereon?

Mukul Chadda: I’m hungry for a lot more work. I’m hungry for different kinds of roles. I feel a sense of confidence that I could do any part, and I think, therefore, I would really love to sink my teeth into anything challenging and interesting. I would like to branch out a little more into writing as well. After Banana Bread, I wrote another project that went into development but didn’t go further. But I would like to try my hand at writing a little more as well.