Abroad at home: How Metro Park Quarantine Edition was shot
Ranvir Shorey and team on self-shooting during the lockdown
The first season of Eros Now’s Metro Park revolved around an eccentric Gujarati family in New Jersey. A second season, continuing the story of convenience store owner Kalpesh Patel (Ranvir Shorey) and his family, was announced in January this year. But then COVID-19 happened and the shoot was stalled. While the returning season was put on hold, a certain creative energy lingered. So, adapting to a locked-down world, the makers decided to put together Metro Park Quarantine Edition.
Created by Abi Varghese and Ajayan Venugopalan, the new edition comprises five episodes of 3-6 minutes each. The bite-sized pieces were self-shot by the actors holed up in Mumbai, New Delhi and Washington DC.
“Even in the age of YouTube and TikTok, I had never done anything like this,” Ranvir shares. “So it was both intimidating and exciting.”
In the opening episode, Kaplesh cribs about the various adjustments he’s having to make. His children are busy with online classes, and his wife Payal (Purbi Joshi) is experiencing cooking fatigue. Ranvir and Purbi weren’t together for the shoot, so a lot relied on guesswork. “A weak point of remote shooting is that you don’t have your collaborators in front you,” Ranvir says. “So the way to work around that is to have extensive planning and pre-production.”
Purbi calls it an important learning experience in her career. “It’s a challenge to perform when the reaction doesn’t come live from another actor. You just have to imagine it and move on.” The experience of shooting the first season also came in handy. “We knew the character graphs of Kalpesh and Payal. More importantly, I’ve worked with Ranvir since 2003. We are close friends and even though he wasn’t physically present with me, I could gauge his reactions and create the same chemistry.”
The new edition also catches up with Payal’s sister Kinjal and her husband Kannan. The couple had moved to Metro Park from New York in the first season and is now stuck at home. Worse, Kannan suspects he’s got the virus, throwing his fussy nature into high gear.
“My wife helped me shoot my portions,” Omi Vaidya, who plays Kannan, tells us over the phone from Washington DC. “She’s got an iPhone 11 while I have an iPhone 7 — so we used her phone,” he laughs.
Across the world, several quarantine-themed shows and specials have cropped up. Omi feels the format speaks to a unified experience at the moment. “Even if the framing isn’t right, or the sound is a little off, audiences don’t really mind that because we are talking about the present times. The content naturally becomes engaging and strong.”
Pitobash, who plays Bittu, Kalpesh’s assistance, kept on his quarantine beard for the show. We see them get on video calls to discuss business and work. “Like most people, Bittu is stuck at home and can’t step out for a shave,” the actor says.
For Pitobash, the lockdown experience has been largely constructive. “Besides shooting for Metro Park, I’ve been writing some stuff of my own. I also got to practice my guitar regularly after a long time. Then there’s preparation for season two, which is still on track and should begin in a couple of months.”