Times have changed and filmmakers these days sure know how to take the plunge. With a women’s army calling the shots both on screen and behind the scenes – Hush Hush is replete with an ensemble cast comprising Juhi Chawla, Soha Ali Khan, Kritika Kamra, Shahana Goswami, and Karishma Tanna. Helmed by Tanuja Chandra, the show is compact with clandestine secrets, deep friendships with dense conflicts, lies, deceit, and everything that unfolds into a gruesome murder of a loved one. In conversation with three of the ladies from the cast – Soha, Kritika, and Shahana get candid about the highs and lows of their layered characters in the show and how charged the environment gets when an all-women army takes the front seat. Excerpts…
How important is it in today’s time to do these shows where women are calling the shots?
Soha: I think it’s important. We want to get to a place where we don’t need to underline the fact that this is a show by women, it has a lot of wonderful female actors in it, it’s helmed by a female director, it’s produced and written by women. That should be incidental, we don’t want to be known for our gender first and then what we’re doing second, as it is for men. But I feel like because this is still a struggle and it isn’t the norm, it’s important to underline it. So whether it comes to women behind the screens, whether it comes to women in front of the screens at home, whether it comes to actors, of course now women are finding their voices, being heard, and being seen. But I still believe, we’re just scratching the surface, and we should not be happy with a bare minimum. Until we’re fifty percent of the workforce, of people, we’re not there.
What are your comments on the show being compared to Big Little Lies?
Kritika: In the early stages, I think it was being compared, which you know honestly, I think is flattering because it’s a great show to be compared to. But it’s not like that because Big Little Lies is very American in its relationships, and in its characters. It’s not, it doesn’t work. We can’t be playing those characters, that’s just dishonest. So it’s not an official or unofficial remake. All I want to say is that it’s an original. The thing that I also like about the trailer is that we haven’t revealed much. But when people watch the show, they’ll know it’s not like that.
Shahana, you’ve mentioned you like characters who are soft on the inside but tough on the outside, and that’s one of the reasons why you connected with that character.
Shahana: Nobody is totally black or totally white. We all have different layers. So that’s the thing that I enjoy as an actor, to be able to bring, let’s say, the hidden layers in human nature, in human beings. And that I think in this show, for all the characters it is very beautiful and very unpretentious and woven into the story.
Kritika and Soha you have collaborated earlier in Kaun Banegi Shikarwati which also had four female leads..
Kritika: It was great. It’s always nice to have a friend on the set and I really enjoy working with Soha, so you know. And then to find Shahana, and to find another friend was just great. I also really enjoyed watching Soha play this character because it’s so different from the demure, quiet Gayatri that you see there. She’s the absolute opposite here and that’s what’s interesting. Even my character is like, she’s from an airhead to somebody like Dolly, who is timid and can barely speak her mind. It was a great experience.
So you both had this personality switch from the previous show you both did together?
Soha: Yeah that’s what’s so exciting, to be able to do that and then to work together. Of course, we were going through a pandemic and being in a bio-bubble, where anyway in the last couple of years we had not met that many people. So I really felt like having Kritika there again was comforting for me. I anyway like habits and routine and I latch onto people and I’m not too keen on shaking things up. So I was very, very happy.
There’s some really strong language used which is a first in your case Soha…
Soha: It’s not like I have never used bad language, but I’m more reserved as a person. I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve as much as Sahiba does. So for me to let go, especially in front of people, is tough for me. It goes against what I’ve been taught growing up and how we’ve been told to behave in the family and all of that. But it’s great fun to let go, and again having been a mother for, it was three years when we started doing this- I’ve been on my best behaviour because I want to be good for my daughter. I want her to see only the good. So to be able to come on set, and be able to swear and be irreverent was such a wonderful release for me. I definitely want to do Season 2.
How was it to be around Juhi Chawla?
Shahana: She is Juhi Chawla right, and suddenly we’re put into like oh we’re best friends. Of course in the character she will obviously, you know she’s a great actress so she plays that with great ease and honesty, but even outside of that I think she had great warmth and kindness and softness that she brought and made everybody comfortable. I think all of us had this nervous excitement about the fact that oh, we’re working with her and we have to be her friend in the show.
Soha: And I have to get angry and swear at her, out of all people! But I think you take a cue from a senior actor. We’re not going to get overly familiar unless you get a cue that you can cross certain lines and you can be warm. And of course, she was.
Wrapping up, you’ll have to be in your character, and you’ll have to convince your audiences about why they should watch the show.
Soha: Because if you’re a cool, smart person, you know what else you would be doing with your time apart from watching us. I can’t say one word, I’m Sahiba.
Kritika: Guys please.
Shahana: Amay yaar.