After making an outstanding performance in Sacred Games, Neeraj Kabi will now be seen in “Paatal Lok” as the lead role of Sanjeev Mehra, a prime-time TV news anchor cum powerful journalist. Amazon Prime video recently drops the most awaited series “Paatal Lok” and it has been the talk of the town since its launch.
Neeraj Kabi, a self-taught actor, since his mainstream debut at age 42, has been one of the most well-regarded performers with his powerful roles in Ship of Theseus (2012), Talvar (2015), Hichki(2018) and many more. Expresso Magazine caught Neeraj Kabi aka Sanjeev Mehra to know more about the series and his character in deep.
Expresso: How is the character of Pataal Lok different from the others that you have portrayed?
Neeraj Kabi: The Character I play is Sanjeev Mehra. Sanjeev was a hero in the field of Journalism. He was a poster boy. The series begins with his first appearance as a man who is about to loose his job because of low TRPs. A low phase of his career as well. Only when the assassination attempt on him fails, does he take this opportunity to bring his career back on track and rise in power ultimately? He does this at the cost of his integrity and loyalty. Professionally he rises but falls miserably in his personal life, finding himself all alone in life. I have never performed a character like this earlier.
Expresso: Tell us about some shooting experience with creator Sudip Sharma and director Prosit Roy and Avinash Arun?
Neeraj Kabi: I spent considerable time with Prosit and Sudip. Prosit is immaculate and precise in what he is looking at in performance and doesn’t let the Actor get away easily. He works in detail. Sudip’s writing is superb in the series. He would be on set daily and was a great help in approving the shots and performances.
Expresso: Why is the show called Pataal Lok?
Neeraj Kabi: The show deals with the three-class divides in India…..The Upper class (Swarg Lok), Middle class (Dharti Lok) and the Lower class (Paatal Lok). The series addresses the Paatal Lok and shows you the humane reality of it thereby giving a new perspective of viewing the Upper and the Middle classes. It takes you to the back stories of people who commit the crimes but are oblivious of its creators.
Expresso: What is the biggest thrill in Pataal Lok?
Neeraj Kabi: The discoveries of the lives of so-called “criminals” and their journeys.
Expresso: Is your character relatable with the society we live in?
Neeraj Kabi: Absolutely. The character I play is a very integral part of our society and what happens to him is a reflection of Journalism at large.
Expresso: You also directed play apart from acting. Do you want to direct movies or web series?
Neeraj Kabi: Yes, I do wish to direct Films and Web Series as well apart from directing Theatre productions.
Expresso: What truly excites you about acting?
Neeraj Kabi: The fact that I get a chance to transform myself into other lives and experience humanity at large.
Expresso: You had working with Irrfan Khan in Talvaa, can you share some best memories of working with Irrfan Khan?
Neeraj Kabi: My best memory of working with Irrfan Khan was the interrogation scene in Talvar where I sit across the table and narrate my tragedy to him while breaking down. I needed a quiet space and an ambience conducive to playing a tragic and complex role. Irrfan gave me both as a co-Actor. He spoke in hushed tones and whispers during the shoot and in between takes so that I could perform this scene the way I wanted to. After the shot he got up to congratulate quietly in the form of a handshake.
Expresso: As an actor whom do you admire most?
Neeraj Kabi: Naseeruddin Shah…
Expresso: Which type of characters are you fond of playing?
Neeraj Kabi: All types! All genres are my favourite. I like roles that are varied and complex.
Expresso: You are from Jamshedpur. Which things did you miss more from Jamshedpur?
Neeraj Kabi: My parents live there so I miss them the most. Then there is the Jubilee Park built by the Tatas that is a sight to watch. Jamshedpur’s street food and food in the alleys is amazing. Living in Mumbai I miss the purity of water that Jamshedpur has. Thanks to the Tatas.
Expresso: What brings on smile on your face mostly?
Neeraj Kabi: My Family. And people who serve humanity at large.
Expresso: Describe your journey in three words?
Neeraj Kabi: Long, Dedicated, Focu