Right from its title to pop culture references, Netflix series “Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein” is sprinkled with Shah Rukh Khan trivia, according to its cast members Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shweta Tripathi Sharma and Anchal Singh.
The cast of the upcoming show says these throwbacks to the filmography of Khan, including movies like “Baazigar”, “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” to “Om Shanti Om” come from the utmost respect they have for the superstar who defines “all shades of romance”.
Set in the fictional town of Onkara, the story of “Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein” follows a romantic simpleton, Vikrant, played by Bhasin. He is an object of desire for Purva (Singh), who will go to any lengths to get him. The eight-episode series will see the mild-mannered Vikrant developing a new side to him. In order to escape Purva’s clutches and reclaim his life with his true love, Shikha (Sharma), he goes down a dark path only to regret it later in this pulpy thriller.
As a “Delhi boy who comes to Bombay to act”, Bhasin said it is impossible not to be a massive Shah Rukh Khan fan.
“There is superstardom and then there’s Shah Rukh Khan. He no longer represents the superstar, he is an institution of someone who has a dream and puts in everything to make it. It was superb to know that there was SRK trivia thrown into the series.
“It is applicable too because the series is very pulpy Bollywood. It has throwbacks to the ’90s purely in terms of the theme: there is passionate romance and revenge. There’s a character arc where an ordinary man faces extraordinary circumstances,” the actor, who was recently seen in Kabir Khan’s “83”, told PTI in an interview over Zoom.
The trailer of the series, created and directed by Sidharth Sengupta, also introduces the viewer to a new phrase: ‘Shah Rukh-giri’.
When you say ‘Shah Rukh-giri’, it means being a hero, said Bhasin.
“It is with utmost humility and respect that these references have been made,” he added.
For Tripathi Sharma, no one romances on screen like Shah Rukh Khan.
“He has shown us all shades of romance. I think that’s the beauty about being an artiste and the kind of person that he is… That’s what I love about cinema that influences your daily life. Entertainment is a major chunk of this but there is so much more. Films break all barriers like caste, religion, etc, as it only boils down to emotions,” she said.
Singh, who has grown up to Shah Rukh’s films, said she is simply “happy” to be part of a show that celebrates the King of Romance.
“Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein” is described as a psychological drama set against the backdrop of crime and desire with themes of twisted love and power.
Bhasin, who gained prominence following his breakout debut as the antagonist in 2014’s “Mardaani”, said it was exciting to star in a romantic drama.
“It was new to play a character who wears his heart on sleeve and leads with his heart. The exciting dynamic of having a romantic triangle with a very interesting, inverse sort of perspective. We’ve seen so many themes of a love triangle when the man is passionately in love with the woman. But what happens if it’s the other way round and also she is in the position of power? Love is an intense emotion to play, just like hate is at the other end of the spectrum. Just to be able to play both these extremes in one series was a big challenge,” the 34-year-old actor said.
Tripathi Sharma, 36, described the show as a “rollercoaster of emotions”.
“What excited me about the story was love. Love is a very simple yet important thing. Today, in the world things like simplicity, kindness and love are getting diluted. Other emotions like power are weighing heavy on love. When you have ultimate power, only then you know if you will use it well or not. That was very exciting. And, Shikha is ready to do whatever it takes to get her love,” she added.
Singh, who has starred in Tamil film “Dhilluku Dhuddu”, said it was rewarding to play Purva, a “beautifully layered” character in “Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein”.
“Like Shikha, she is also ready to get her love, but the means and the different social environment she belongs to is how they differ. Maybe from the outside they both want the same things but the more you go inside, you see how different they are. For Purva, everything is fair in love and war,” she said.
The series is yet another ever-growing list of web series based in a small-town of north India and Bhasin said the show does full justice to the milieu.
“When I see ‘Narcos’, ‘Squid Game’ or ‘Borgen’, they are unapologetically authentic to their native countries. Our series is also rooted in reality even when there is stylised dramatisation,” he said.
Tripathi Sharma, whom Bhasin called ‘a north India expert’ courtesy her starring turns in films like “Masaan”, “Raat Akeli Hai”, and Prime Video series “Mirzapur”, said relatability is a huge factor that gravitates creative people to the region.
“There are so many flavours to explore in north India. I still think we haven’t done that. What I like about ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ and what OTT is offering is that there’s something for everyone. If you want spice, you have that. If you want dessert, there is that too,” she said.
Also starring Saurabh Shukla, Surya Sharma, Brijendra Kala, Arunoday Singh, Anant Joshi, Sunita Rajwar and Hetal Gada, the series will start streaming from January 14.
Sengupta also serves as writer along with Anahata Menon and Varun Badola for the series, which is produced by Edgestorm Ventures.