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You need drama to make a web series, says Veteran actor Sachin Pilgaonkar


NEW DELHI: Veteran actor Sachin Pilgaonkar says a good web series must have a key ingredient of drama to keep the viewer engaged, something he believes his upcoming political show "City of Dreams" season two has.

Asked to comment on the rising popularity of the political drama genre on the digital platform, the 63-year-old actor said the reason could be that the makers thought the audience is "tired of only watching crime underworld stories".

"Otherwise, where would you find drama?" he asked.

"You have to find drama when you have to make an OTT (over-the-top) series. You must have something for people to not move from their chairs for which drama is definitely required. If they have a story which doesn't have much of a strong content, they try to make it up with action. You don't need to cover it up with action, if you have strong content," Pilgaonkar, often known by his first name Sachin, told PTI in a Zoom interview.

The second season of "City of Dreams" will see the actor return as Jagdish Gourav, a shrewd politician who was Maharashtra chief minister in the show's debut last year.

The new chapter will see Priya Bapat's Poornima Rao Gaikwad become the interim CM, with her father and Mumbai's most polarising political figure Amey Rao Gaikwad, played by Atul Kulkarni, leaving no stone unturned to rein in his daughter after he finds out the truth behind his son Ashish's (Siddharth Chandekar) death.

The story picks up three months after the events of the first season ends when Gourav has seemingly pledged allegiance to Poornima, hoodwinking Amey all this while.

There is a change in the arc of the character but the essence remains the same, said Pilgaonkar.

"My character has always been a survivor. He is unpredictable, like politics. Though he is supporting Poornima, she doesn't know if he will be loyal to her or not."

As someone who is "not at all well versed with politics", playing the role of a chief minister in the first season of "City of Dreams" was an interesting experience for the actor.

"Politics is not my cup of tea. That is why I was charged to play the chief minister in the first season because I know I will never be able to become a chief minister in all my life," he added.

While the actor said the new installment gave him "more platform" to perform than season one, he was surprised to find his character missing from the series trailer, which dropped on Tuesday.

The Disney+ Hotstar show is produced by Applause Entertainment, headed by Sameer Nair, in association with series director Nagesh Kukunoor's banner Kukunoor Movies.

"I watched the trailer thrice but I couldn't see myself in it. I asked Mr Sameer Nair about this and he said it has been made by Hotstar and not by them. If it's made by Hotstar, then they may have thought it's not important to keep even a single shot of mine in the trailer.

"But I don't want to disown my project. I don't want to have a blame game. I want to help in the release of a project in which I'm playing one of the principal characters. As an actor, I will never deny my responsibility."

Pilgaonkar, who started his career as a child artiste with the 1962 Marathi film "Ha Maza Marg Ekla" and established himself as a lead 13 years with the Hindi movie "Geet Gaata Chal", will complete six decades in the industry two years from now.

The actor, however, said he doesn't have a habit of looking back.

"That's what I've been taught by the people I have worked with, especially Dev Anand sahab," he said as he remembered working with the late screen icon in films like "Jewel Thief", "Prem Pujari", and "Gambler".

"He taught me this very important thing - never celebrate your success, never mourn your failure. They are the two sides of the same coin, so just keep going ahead, and not have grievances. Some things work, some don't. But that's not the end of the world."

For someone who started his career with black-and-white era of films, Pilgaonkar said he is "probably the first actor from my generation to head to OTT".

Years before director Kukunoor first approached him for "City of Dreams", the actor had already done his first web series "Sex Chat with Pappu & Papa" for Y-Films, a sister concern of the production banner Yash Raj Films in 2016.

His mantra, he said, is that the best way to be different is to be yourself.

"That has kept me going, being inventive and exploring different things in life. I didn't get static with only acting. Once an actor, always an actor. An actor always feels very happy when he is recognised," Pligaonkar, who has acted in more than 200 films across Hindi and Marathi cinema, added.

Also a director and producer known for Marathi films "Mai Baap", "Savvasher", and the popular TV show "Tu Tu Main Main", Pilgaonkar said direction, writing and theatre are "equally important" to him.

"If they were not, they would not have been a part of my life. Direction is a full-time job, acting is not. I also love singing. Another thing that is a major part of my life since the age of two is dancing. I love to be an audience member. I was such a film buff that every week I used to watch three films. Even today, I watch movies, series and documentaries on OTT. In one life, I got the opportunity to live so many lives."

Also featuring Eijaz Khan and Sushant Singh, "City of Dreams" season two will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar on July 30.