Lara Dutta: Digital content is a blessing for female actors
Lara Dutta, who makes her digital debut in Ruchi Narain’s Hundred, talks about her OTT debut, and what convinced her to get into the digital space
After a brief hiatus from films, Lara Dutta is back, albeit in a new avatar. The actress has now made her foray in the web series space, with her digital debut, Hundred, now streaming on Hotstar, having her play a cop, ACP Saumya Sharma. Created by Ruchi Narain, Ashutosh Shah, Taher Shabbir, and Abhishek Dubey, this action-comedy follows the lives of Saumya Sharma, and her undercover agent, Netra Patil, played by Rinku Rajguru.
Talking about her decision to get on board the series, Lara Dutta says, “It might seem like being part of a web series doesn’t put you under pressure, but that’s not true at all (laughs). I wasn’t actively looking for roles in the streaming content space, but when Ruchi Narain pitched the story, it was too good for me to let go. I have never played a role like this in my career. Ruchi and I have known each other for a while now, and for the past couple of years, I’ve been wanting to work with a female director. It all happened quite organically. The story of Hundred too is complex, real, and multi-layered, and I like the dark humour too.”
The series tackles sexism and misogyny at the workplace in a very real manner, and Lara Dutta describes her character, Saumya Sharma, as someone who’s quite frustrated that men don’t understand her. Her way of fighting is to remain in the system. “She’s constantly told what to do, and wants to break free from all that. She finds a way out through Netra, because the latter can take risks that she can’t. The relationship between them is that of a mentor and a prodigy, and Saumya is almost like a mother figure to Netra. At the same time, Saumya tends to take advantage of this relationship. That’s what makes the character so multi-dimensional,” Lara says, adding, “I am nowhere close to how Saumya is in my real life. I’m a bit of an old soul, and prefer to keep my life as simple as possible.”
The actress is all praise for the writers of Hundred and is convinced that having a female director on board brings a different point of view to storytelling. “There’s always been a dearth of good writers in our industry, and we have very few people who write good women characters. Save for a couple of films every year, it’s almost impossible to find well-rounded women characters,” she says. “Things, however, are changing, thanks to digital content. We have a lot of talented writers who have a voice and they are getting good opportunities to prove themselves. It’s quite tough to get a breakthrough in films, but the digital content medium has created a space, and it’s also translating to getting better characters for women. It’s a blessing, if I may say so.”