Vikas Bahl’s upcoming web series on ZEE5 titled, Sunflower is soon to release and one of the actresses on the show had an exclusive chat with us about her shooting experience! Dayena Erappa is a model and actress from Coorg, Karnataka and she plays the role of Justina on the show. Justina’s character is said to be very modern and rebellious and she moves into the Sunflower society with her roommate Devyanti. Everyone is suspicious of Justina because she doesn’t fit in and she doesn’t care! Dayena has featured in several big magazines like Femina and Bazaar India! She is currently back at home with her family in Coorg and we got in touch with her to understand her excitement for her next release. She also revealed how it was like to shoot around big names like Sunil Grover, Ranvir Shorey, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sonal Jha etc.
Watch the Sunflower logo reveal here:
Dayena, how excited are you about the release of this ZEE5 web series?
I’m very excited. The release has been getting postponed. It was supposed to release in April, now it has been pushed to May (now June 11). But I’m very excited to watch myself on a screen! I’m a little nervous as well. I don’t think I’ll be able to watch myself (laughs) but you know it’s like a fun comedy so it’ll be good to watch it at this time of the year.
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How was the experience on sets? There are a lot of senior actors in the cast, so how was it like to work with them?
I think the reading sessions kind of made it comfortable. Like I met actors like Ashish sir and Sunil Grover sir and it was amazing, but I was still nervous. But on set, they were all really normal! I was thinking something else, but they made it easy. I didn’t even have to be nervous or anything, they made it really easy and they were always helping me. Not only the senior actors, even the newcomers. We had a lot of fun on the sets, from day one. I think from the reading session till the last day of the shoot we were just having fun. It was a fun set to work with. I’d never experienced something like this.
As fun as the shoot was, was it a bit difficult as well due to the pandemic? How was that adding to the shooting experience?
Yeah, we were shooting during the pandemic but things were taken care of. There used to be tests done. They didn’t neglect anything and took precaution. Like every four days, there’d be a test, there wouldn’t be many people on the sets, just whoever was needed around so things were taken care of, precaution was taken. We tried to maintain social distancing on the shoot as well and we were able to finish the shoot in 48 or 43 days.
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What was your first reaction when you got the role?
I was like, “Um, are you sure?” (laughs). I was asking my agent if it was really confirmed! I was not happy till I signed the contract, in fact, even after I signed the contract I wanted to go on set and only then I believed that I got it.
Tell us a little about your role. When you got it, did you think you could do it?
When I first got the casting call I was like, umm…, this character is similar to me. I think she’s very strong-headed and very creative and very open which is not like me. With my friend circle, I’m very open, someone who can have their opinion but in public, I’m a listener. But here, Justina being very vocal about everything, it was hard but I think Rahul sir and Vikas sir helped me a lot during the rehearsals. We did a lot of rehearsals with other actors and that helped me a lot. Rehearsals helped and so we didn’t waste a lot of time on set.
I don’t speak Hindi very well, I have a South Indian accent and that kind of made me nervous when I had a lengthy Hindi dialogue but Vikas sir said if you’re not comfortable we can use some English words, you don’t have to be nervous. He was very encouraging and he was fine with it not being scripted, he said to go with the flow, whatever comes to you naturally as the character. I can read and write Hindi well but when it comes to speaking I have a little difficulty so that makes me nervous. He (Vikas sir) made it easy for all the actors on the sets this way and that’s what made it easy. We didn’t even realise when the shoot was over.
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What are your thoughts on OTT platforms? Do you think they are helpful for young stars and other actors as well?
Oh, I think right now it’s a very big platform for everyone. It’s easy to access, you don’t have to be in front of the TV or wait for a certain timing to watch. And I think in this pandemic it is much safer than going to a theatre. Web shows make it so easy that you just binge-watch. Wherever you are, travelling or not doing anything, you can just watch things. And it reaches everyone all over the country, whether the person is in a place like Coorg (laughs) or in a big city. For an actor, it’s a big platform and right now, everyone wants to be in web series, like senior actors, upcoming actors, everyone I think wants to be on the OTT platforms than movies.
How was it like on the sets with the younger actors like Ria Nalavade and others?
With Ria, we just hit it off from like day one during the reading with Vikas sir. I think we got along so well because she’s from Bangalore and she’s a little younger than me. On day one we knew, you know that we’d be friends. And Simran who acted as Gurleen, even she was in the reading and it was nice. Younger actors, senior actors, we all got along really well so it was fun!
What’s next for you after Sunflower?
I’ve to wait. (laughs) I don’t know what’s going to come! I did my debut in a Tamil movie with Mani Ratnam in 2018 and I haven’t done an acting project after that. Sunflower came after two years so let’s see how it goes!
That was Dayena Erappa, Sunflower’s Justina for you!
For more, visit ZEE5.