Television star Ankur Nayyar has worked in several shows including Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Kashmeer, Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap and Jhansi Ki Rani among others. The actor will next be seen in the upcoming Disney+ Hotstar series Dahan- Raakan Ka Rahasya. As Ankur gears up for the release of his next show, the actor talked to News18 about shooting at one of the spookiest places in India – Mukesh Mills.
Tell us about your role in the series Dahan.
The character I’m playing, his name is Sandeep and he is an ornithologist. It is a branch of zoologists and these are the people who deal with birds, their behaviour, and how he is related to Tisca’s character Anvi. They have been childhood buddies and have fond memories of that time – that’s how at one point in life they both come together and become support systems for each other.
How was the experience of shooting at a remote location of a spooky village? Tell us about the challenges during the shoot of Dahan.
It was really great. We used to travel from the city, and it used to take an hour and a half or two hours to travel to the location. After reaching the shooting location, as an actor, when you enter the place – it’s the look, the feel and the ambience, and it helps in bringing an actor closer to the character one is playing. So once you reach that remote location – a place that feels spooky in its own way – a lot of your job gets easier. It was really nice to shoot at the village site.
When we were shooting in Jaipur, it (the weather) was really hot. We were shooting in the mines, and the heat in the day was just unbearable because the sun is reflecting on you from multiple sides when the sunshine was falling on granite it was reflecting back on us. So, from all angles, it is hitting you constantly – and it becomes a multiplier effect of the sun. Shooting in this kind of location was just not easy, and it was challenging in itself. But luckily now when the product is looking good and the series is looking equally amazing, so I am happy.
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The trailer of Dahan hints at the series being a horror tale of paranormal activities, have you ever experienced such incidents?
No, I haven’t experienced anything paranormal. But a lot of things have happened to me – it’s like the blessings for me or the god’s spirit for me. A lot of things have happened on their own and sometimes I felt there was a protective layer around me – I would call it the god’s spirit, or divine spirit. Nothing spooky had happened to me, and I’ve been lucky that way. Luckily, I haven’t been to such eerie places so, I feel maybe I’m lucky.
I remember, during the 26 July floods back in 2005, I was shooting at Mukesh Mills in Mumbai, which is one of the spookiest places in India. We were shooting there outdoors for the entire day. People have been calling up, but the cell phone networks were not that great those days. The only thing they asked was ‘are you fine?’ and I was like yes, what happened? It’s not like till the time we went out and left the place, and till the time we had actually left Mukesh Mills and crossed Kolaba, we didn’t realise what had happened and how the world had turned upside down, we had no idea. So, we were in Mukesh Mills which was supposed to be one of the most haunted places and it is on the sea itself. We did experience that the sea was extremely rough, but at the same time, all of us were completely safe. We were safe at such a place where everything was supposed to be extremely spooky, and that was also at night when we wrapped up the shoot at 2 am. And we thought at the time that we won’t stay there anymore because that place is considered to be spooky, and we left with our vanity vans. Even in that kind of place, we were safe from the fiascos and everything that was happening outside.
How was it working with Tisca Chopra in Dahan?
Tisca is a wonderful actor. She has carried a number of series on her shoulders single-handedly, and she has been part of so many successful films as well. What can you say about such a person, she has been a phenomenal actor. It is basically her journey and we all are part of her journey. We all are supporting her and there for her to reach the conclusion. Of course, when it is your journey and you are the main protagonist, it has to be the toughest task for you – and in spite of all that, if you are performing live – immaculately well, stunning in every scene and frame, and a bang on performance – it has to be much more than a job of acting, it has to be love for your profession, love for your craft, love for your work, and that dedication and being away from your kids. Now that I’m a father I know that. So, staying away from kids is of the toughest things as well and she has managed all that.
Tell us about the experience of working with Saurabh Shukla in the series.
He is one actor I’ve always admired. He is one actor who just completely changes a perception. He can play anything and everything under the sun, and then whenever he will do a role, he will do it in such a way that it has never been done before. If we probably talk about a tantric (in Dahan), if we probably talk about a judge or any other character – must have been played a million times before but the way he will do it – he will come up with a different notion altogether. I am so spellbound by his performance as a tantric. Of course, I’m really inspired by him as an actor, the judgement you guys will give later on. But as an audience, when I saw his Jolly LLB 2 – I was like wow. I was like Aise kaise ho sakta hai? Acha, aise bhi ho sakta hai? (‘how can we do this? Can this be done this way?) These kinds of actors, make you think. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share the screen space with him as we don’t have a scene together. I hope to get a chance to work with him.
Dahan releases this Friday, September 16, on Disney+ Hotstar.