Five years ago, Tina Desai was not a name many people would have known, but today, thanks to projects like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Sense8”, she is recognised the world over. Her journey to stardom, from modelling in India to the world entertainment arena via Bollywood, is an interesting one.
Desai and the rest of the cast are busy shooting for Season 2 of “Sense8”, and much like the first season, it is spread all over the world. Despite the busy schedule, she was kind enough to answer a few questions for International Business Times, India. Here are the edited excerpts:
International Business Times, India: You have been part of two enormous international projects — one British and the other American (sort of). Was it a conscious decision to venture out of Bollywood and establish yourself on the international front?
Tina Desai: Thank you, it has been more than fantastic to be able to work on the projects you’ve named. It wasn’t a conscious decision at all. I was focusing on Bollywood because four years ago, doing work in Hollywood was not what anyone thought of. Auditions got me both projects, although “Marigold 2” happened naturally. I had to go through a few rounds of auditions before “Marigold” happened, and for “Sense8”, I did a self-tape and then Skyped with the makers before I was selected.
IBT: Were you a fan of the Wachowski siblings’ works before you were approached for “Sense8”?
Desai: I, along with everyone I know, am a fan of the “Matrix” films. I also watched “Cloud Atlas” and loved it. The Ws are way ahead of their time with their ideas and concepts, and to be able to read their scripts and see how they execute them; how they envision a scene and present it, is pure art. The depth in thought related to every single aspect of the story and its visuals is unparalleled.
IBT: You have shot all over the world for “Sene8”. Which — other than Mumbai — has been your favourite location to shoot at?
Desai: London is my favourite city in the world, but of the newer places we went to, Iceland stands out for its beauty, cleanliness, seafood, adventure sports and peace and tranquility.
IBT: What was your favourite scene from Season 1 in which you were not a part?
Desai: Most of Lito’s scenes crack me up. I love Miguel [Ángel Silvestre] as an actor and Lito as a character. Lito’s entry into the church with a gun in his hand ready to shoot the priest was hilarious, as was his prep in his trailer when he’s on shoot and unable to perform. I also love Sun in the boxing ring.
IBT: Your chemistry with Max Riemelt aka Wolfgang is palpable in the show. Do you share a good rapport with him off the screen? Who are you closest to among the seven other sensates?
Desai: Thank you. Max is a tremendous actor who I’m also maybe the closest to in the whole group because of the time we spend together on shoot. The support for Kala and Wolfie’s story is maniacal and I love it! I actually enjoy the company of all seven because they’re a fun bunch, and we really do share cluster love, in a way.
IBT: Among all the sensates, including yourself, who do you think is most like their character?
Desai: The casting has been done perfectly so we’re all very much like our characters. Miguel is as hysterical as Lito, Brian as sensitive as Will, Jamie as bold as Nomi, Max as badass as Wolfie, etc.
IBT: Could you describe each of your cast-mates with a superlative?
Desai: Aml Ameen (Capheus)- Thoughtful
Doona Bae (Sun Bak) – Shy
Jamie Clayton (Nomi Marks) – Feisty
Tuppence Middleton (Riley Blue) – Cheerful
Max Riemelt (Wolfgang Rogdanow)- Intense
Miguel Ángel Silvestre (Lito Rodriguez) – Sassy
Brian J Smith (Will Gorski) – Gentle
IBT: Do you feel more comfortable with the cast members while shooting Season 2 now that you are a season old?
Desai: Absolutely. There’s a certain level of comfort and maturity that comes into any relationship with time. We’ve kept in constant touch since Season 1 and met up several times in different countries, so we’re friends in real life, too. We’ve had time to add value to something we already treasure, and we even understand the story, the director’s vision and the filmmaking style better, so all these elements help add to the familiarity.
IBT: Can you tease anything about Season 2? Will Kala break off her engagement and officially get together with Wolfgang? Can we look forward to all the sensates physically meeting at some point? Where was Riley taking Will in the Season 1 finale?
Desai: Of course not! Even I have only read till Episode 7, so I don’t know what fully happens in this season, but even what I do know, I won’t share because the fun is in not knowing. I can just say things have gotten even more intense and action-packed, and the relationship between Kala and Wolfie is more stressful and electric than ever!
IBT: How do you feel about Netflix coming to India? What other Netflix shows are you excited about?
Desai: I’m obviously ecstatic they’re in India. We have a rather large audience who are into shows with such passion that it’s only fair we have access to such content legally and with great quality and ease. Netflix has a ton of good shows from the largely known ones, like “House of Cards” and “OITNB” to “How to get away with murder” and “Bloodline”. “Making a murderer”, the docu-series, is also great. “Fuller House”, a show I watched as a kid [revival of “Full House”], launches soon, and I’m hugely awaiting that one!!