Mon 30 Oct 2017, 19:09
No woman brings out the crazy on TV like Varshita, a character so brilliantly and hilariously embodied by media personality, entreprenuer and actress Eve D'Souza.
Varshita is exactly the kind of woman you do not introduce to your mother, at least if you want some peace and quiet for the rest of your life. Not that it matters because that's what makes up for most of the drama in the brand new show Varshita. In this Auntie Boss spin-off, our favourite "toxic couple" (Varshita and Donovan) and their families are trying to coexist peacefully despite their cultural and racial differences.
On playing Varshita, Eve says: "It's just so liberating because she's the opposite of who I am in real life."
Here's more of what Eve had to say about her prominent role and new show.
1. Tell us more about your new show Varshita?
Varshita is a culture specific comedy show about love and relationships. It speaks to the struggles of culture and societal expectations while also exploring racial bias. It exposes the comedy and challenges involved when a traditional Indian and African family are brought together. Despite their cultural differences, there are some surprising similarities between the two families.
2. How did this decision to create a spin-off of Auntie Boss come about?
During a workshop for Auntie Boss, Lucy Mwangi (my business partner/producer) and I realised that the stories around Varshita and Don were always so dramatic and the writers always had a bit too much fun writing for the crazy couple. We felt there was so much more to tell about Varshita and her life that it needed a whole different show. This is the first show in Kenya where we really delve into the challenges and realities of interracial dating. It's the right time for this kind of content.
3. How is Varshita different from Auntie Boss?
Once you watch it you'll see it's a whole different feel. The focus is still on Varshita and her unhealthy relationship with Don, but now we see their backstory. After meeting her parents, we get to understand why Varshita is so crazy. Varshita has moved from Auntie Boss to become a show based on love, family drama and pressures, cultural differences and similarities between two communities.
4. What crazy things are we going to witness in this new show?
My favourite scenes are the ones in the village, especially where Varshita tries to conform and learn to be a "good Kikuyu wife." There are also lots of hilarious celebrity appearances by Mejja, Madtraxx, Fareed Khimani, Avril, Mark Masai, Tony Njuguna, Chantelle and more. Oh and Sanaipei Tande does a phenomenal job playing Eva, Donovan's ex girlfriend who moves in next door. Drama.
5. On a scale of 1-10, how psycho is Varshita?
11. Having said that, I can't tell you how many things she does that are based on true stories. Women can take "crazy in love" to a whole other level.
6. What do you enjoy most about playing the lead role of Varshita?
It's just so liberating because she's the opposite of who I am in real life. I'm very much an introvert and confrontations upset me for days. Now I get to be someone who doesn't care about what anyone thinks, speaks without a filter, constantly puts herself first and isn't afraid to look crazy in public when her needs aren't met. I try to make Varshita a little goofy in delivery to keep it light but overall, I've truly grown to love this character. Lets be honest, it's always more fun playing the villain!
7. Any challenges?
Most of Varshita's scenes have such high energy and are dramatic, it's exhausting to play her. Plus as the lead in the show, I was mostly on set six days a week, 14 hours a day for over three months. My body and mind had never experienced such fatigue before, I broke down and cried quite a few times.
8. Other than you and Maqbul, which characters from the original show are we going to see in Varshita?
None of the characters from Auntie Boss will be featured, it's a whole new cast and everyone has embraced their roles beyond our expectations. Each character is so unique and entertaining, I can't even pick favourites.
9. Comedy aside, Varshita has a cultural narrative - interracial dating - and being one of the creators and producers of the show, why is it important to tell this story?
I think Varshita will provoke a discussion on issues about race and relationships that often remain too sensitive or uncomfortable to explore. Lucy and I were afraid that some people may find a few scenes offensive and racist. It’s tempting to curl up in front of a triumphant story of love conquering all but having interacted with both Indian and Kikuyu communities for so many years, I know that it’s not as simple as that. Navigating the differences that come from mixed relationships can be uncomfortable but it’s necessary if we’re going to progress in challenging racism and making people understand that we're all a lot more similar than we realise.
10. In the real world, what are the cultural consequences of Varshita and Donovan's relationship?
Some people would blame Varshita's choice to marry an African man as childish 'rebellion' which I find very small-minded. I'll be candid, dark-skinned people of my country of origin, India, have always been looked down upon as inferior. Skin colour is one of the defining factors in their social caste system. For years, under the Indian Caste System, dark skinned people were put into the so-called “lower” castes and treated poorly. If discrimination was bad enough within Indians you can imagine how deep it can run when you bring race into play. This poison has been ingrained into our culture to such an extent that some Indians consider it normal. In many Indian families, marrying an African would lead to you being disinherited and disowned. Varshita represents a new generation of Africans and Indians who are actively rejecting this backward way of thinking.
11. In your opinion, what is the secret of pulling off a good role?
First of all, you have to be comfortable with it and accept your character. For instance, Varshita is emotionally unstable, self-centered, overly dramatic and an annoying diva, I can't waste a second worrying about people judging or hating me. Actors should be willing to push the boundaries and step out of their comfort zone for their roles. Secondly, in your head, you need to think, feel and breathe your character. It should come across naturally and effortlessly.
12. As a content creator, what opportunities does a channel like Maisha Magic East offer to film and TV production in Kenya?
Maisha Magic East has provided immense support to our region's TV and film industry. The TV industry, especially in Kenya, can be brutal. It's not as glamarous as the public perceive, quite the contrary. When I think about how many local shows M-Net has commissioned and invested in, it gives me a sense of hope. Not to mention the strict quality control which ensures that we all up our game. We're definitely headed in the right direction in terms of showing we too can provide good quality, entertaining content to Africa and the world.
13. Any other future projects your fans can expect to see you in?
For now I'm focusing on Varshita, though Lucy Mwangi and I are hoping to make time to revive our travel show Travel Diaries next year, fingers crossed.