Express News Service

When actor Barun Sobti was offered Asur, he thought the script was too cerebral. Nevertheless, he followed his gut and said yes. It turned out to be one of his best career decisions. The 2020 thriller series by Oni Sen has been called one of the finest Indian shows by critics and audiences alike. Its recently released second season too has been received well.  

A few days before the second season hit JioCinema on June 1, Sobti recalls being asked if he thought it was at par with its predecessor. He had said, “It’s much better.” The confidence meter, however, wasn’t this high when Season 1 dropped three years ago. As much as the actor, who plays a CBI officer on the hunt for a serial killer, loved the script, he thought the show was “too niche”. “I was sceptical about its popularity,” he says. The series also stars Arshad Warsi, Ridhi Dogra and Anupriya Goenka in lead roles.

a poster of Asur 2

The latest season notched up the excitement levels, both for the cast and the audience, thanks to the introduction of a “highly evolved and intelligent antagonist”, played by model-turned-actor Gaurav Arora. “That meant the protagonists (Warsi and Sobti) had to keep pace with him. If the first season was slightly more emotional, I think this one is more dialled-up on the intellectual front,” he adds.

The 38-year-old, who was also seen recently in the OTT series Badtameez Dil, rose to fame in 2011 with the romantic drama Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon on television. He played a brooding businessman, a role that made him a household name. When he made the switch to the big screen, however, things didn’t pan out the way he wanted. “My films didn’t work,” he states simply. Main Aur Mr Right (2014) and Tu Hai Mera Sunday (2016) bombed at the box office, although the actor’s performance in the latter was appreciated. “I was a little discouraged, but the OTT revolution came as a godsend for me. I think I manifested it in India,” says the actor, who made the shift to OTT in 2017 with the web series Tanhaiyan, followed by The Great Indian Dysfunctional Family (2018).

Asur, in a way, reaffirmed his capability as an actor who can play complex characters and give nuanced performances. But, why did he leave TV, a space that gave him his early taste of stardom? Sobti admits he got bored. “I was clinically diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) five years ago, but even before that, I knew I couldn’t keep doing the same thing for too long,” he says, adding, “I want to do work––whether in films or the OTT space––that is good art; stories that resonate with the audience for their originality. Some of the projects I have done so far and some in the pipeline are the kinds I have always wanted to do. So far, I seem to be making the right choices most of the time.” Next on the horizon for the actor is the Netflix murder mystery Kohrra, a period drama titled Donali and a coming-of-age drama, Bawandar.

Ask him if he ever sees himself returning to his old stomping grounds of television, and the actor says, “Probably, if the programming goes from daily to weekly. That’s when the writing will get better. Without good writing, there is no scope for better direction or acting.”

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