Directed by Abhishek Sengupta, the 9-part series on SonyLIV also stars Namrata Sheth, Soham Majumdar and Sheeba Chaddha
Good Bad Girl has tried something different to break free from the clutter of Indian web shows. The nine-part series on SonyLIV, directed by Abhishek Sengupta, chronicles protagonist Maya Ahuja’s (played by Samridhi Dewan) fun, unpredictable and adventurous journey as an underdog lawyer who is also a compulsive liar.
The Telegraph Online spoke to the key cast members of Good Bad Girl — Gul Panag, Samridhi Dewan and Vaibhav Raj Gupta — on what’s special about their show and where they are in their individual journeys.
Samridhi, tell us whether you are a good girl or a good bad girl and what you recollect from the show’s audition…
Samridhi Dewan: (Smiles) Everybody is good and bad both! I have tried to lie but I was caught, especially among people who are close to me and who know me. I am a bad liar. Coming to the audition process, it was super long. I was surprised that the makers wanted somebody relatively new and who’s not very popular in the protagonist’s role, Maya Ahuja. I auditioned a couple of times before I was finalised, so it was hectic. But you rarely get a part like this. New shows come up all the time, so we hope our work doesn’t get lost. I can say it’s a very different show.
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Vaibhav, you are playing an urban character after your powerful act in Gullak (SonyLIV) and Mai (Netflix). What was challenging in Good Bad Girl?
Vaibhav Raj Gupta: I was looking for an urban character after Annu (Gullak) and Shankar (Mai) so that I can look good and handsome (laughs). While auditioning, I found out so many things about my character, Sahil Mistry. In the second round of auditions, the showrunner (Chaitally Parmar), who has written the show, narrated more about Sahil but (spoken) English was a problem, so I got a teacher, who taught me, and I ended up doing Sahil. It was challenging but I had fun.
Gul Panag: This is the first script I was offered after going to law school for three years. It’s a happy coincidence! (Smiles) I play Zaina, a lawyer. Sahil (Vaibhav Raj Gupta) is my brother. Zaina is struggling to keep up with the firm’s revenue. It has a bit of politics in the law firm, the rivalry, and Maya’s uninhibited drive to become a partner. Zaina is balanced, intimidating and a woman of very few words. It’s not a courtroom saga. Coming to Samridhi and Vaibhav, both are very talented and outstanding actors. It’s a privilege to work with younger actors who are brimming with enthusiasm, energy and ideas.
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Gul, we love seeing you reinventing yourself every day…
Gul Panag: I am a goal-oriented person. I like putting myself outside my comfort zone. I like the feeling of drowning and learning to swim again. In the last 10 years, I studied for seven years. After I finished my master’s in political science, I went to flight school where the passing mark is 70% and then I studied law. I set new challenges for myself as it reinstates the purpose to be agile and adapt. It positions me to be accepting of the scenarios I am thrown into.
Now with the influx of multiple OTT platforms, what are the pros and cons of long-format shows? Is there a change in approach from the actor’s point of view?
Gul Panag: In terms of an actor, my rules haven’t changed. I go to every platform with the same amount of passion. I see whether my part is significant to the plot or the movie. I see whether the story is told before or if it has been, then how differently it’s told in what I am offered.
Samridhi Dewan: It’s hard to get work and it’s even harder to get good work. It’s sporadic, which is the same across mediums. Ever since the OTT space has opened up, there are a lot of actors and directors. I feel with more work opportunities, there is more competition.
Vaibhav Raj Gupta: When I was doing Gullak Season 1, it was a small show. OTT is a place where it doesn’t matter whether the show has any stars in it. Content matters and the audience is mature as they are watching global content. The writing must be great like in Paatal Lok, The Family Man and Gullak but to make a good show, season after season, is a challenge for writers and directors. Good Bad Girl has a flavour that hasn’t been explored. As an actor, in the longer format, we can explore the character well, so that’s an advantage.
Samridhi, before Good Bad Girl, you reprised Jenna Fischer’s Pam (from the popular American mockumentary sitcom The Office) as Pammi in the Indian adaptation of The Office (on Disney+Hotstar) and your short film Keep Punching (on Mubi) receives a lot of appreciation…
Samridhi Dewan: I have been lucky with the things I have done. I wish I had done more. I have been around for some years since 2016. The Office (Indian adaptation) was released in 2019. I play Pammi, a receptionist in Faridabad in a small office. We get compared a lot (to the popular US sitcom). We faced backlash with the adaptation. At the end of the day, it’s a fair adaptation. It developed a niche audience.
Keep Punching is about a boxer from Himachal Pradesh who’s not very successful and who’s not into men. She is very complicated as she’s not expressive and has her inner struggles. Vikramaditya Motwane (director of Udaan and Lootera) produced it. We shot in Manali, so it’s visually beautiful. I had to train to be a boxer, and the process was insane.
Vaibhav, we see you going on a lot of bike trips. What does it do to you as an actor?
Vaibhav Raj Gupta: As an actor, you need to do things to explore yourself. Bike trips are something I always wanted to do but I didn’t have a bike earlier. Then, as an actor, you need to think twice before even making a tattoo. I am always into exploring my life. It gives a liberating feeling. Solo travelling is important for actors. My other interests are cooking, pottery, painting and poetry.
Vaibhav and Samridhi, what or who inspires you?
Vaibhav Raj Gupta: I am my inspiration. (Laughs) Nature and books are there but I push myself a lot, ya. People who inspire me are Vijay Varma, Alia Bhatt and Jaideep Ahlawat.
Samridhi Dewan: Saoirse Ronan inspires me. She seems experienced and dynamic. People who can do a lot of things apart from acting, like Gul, inspire me a lot as well.