Karisma Kapoor Talks Zee Studios‘ Berlin Series Show ’Brown’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Bollywood star Karisma Kapoor has made a triumphant return to acting with Zee Studios’ noir thriller “Brown,” the only Indian show at the Berlin Series Market Selects platform.

Kapoor, one of the top movie stars in India in the 1990s and early 2000s, took a hiatus to devote time to her young family. She made a comeback with parenting-themed series “Mentalhood” for streamer ALTBalaji in 2020. “Brown” is her first acting gig since then.

The series is based on the 2016 novel “City of Death” by Abheek Barua, adapted by Digvijay Singh, Sunayana Kumari and Mayukh Ghosh and directed by Abhinay Deo (“24: India”). It follows Rita Brown (Kapoor), a world-weary, recovering alcoholic, ace detective in the Kolkata police force belonging to the city’s small but influential Anglo-Indian community, who is assigned to the murder case of a young woman from a well-connected family.

“I’ve had a long career, I’ve been there, done that, done a variety of roles, but when I read the character Rita Brown, I just felt it, because she was so different, so diverse – she was flawed, but human, super smart, super intelligent, and you can literally see the growth of this woman,” Kapoor told Variety. “For me, as an actress to be stripped down of all the glamor and the glitz, that was extremely interesting for me.”

“Many people around the world will identify with her – she’s beat up, she’s been through so much, people have knocked her out. And that’s what happens in normal life,” Kapoor added. “It’s not only depression, or alcoholism – nobody’s discusses this, but there’s a time where people just become irrelevant. She bounces back, because she has it in her. Rita Brown is very inspirational to women out there and that’s something that really touched me because I’ve also been through a journey in life.”

Apart from not wearing any makeup to achieve a worn-out look for her character, Kapoor also used method acting techniques to enhance the role. Someone who rarely consumes alcohol in real life, Kapoor would skip dinner, have a few drinks and pass out in order to wake up with a hangover. A non-smoker, she learnt to roll a cigarette. The actor also trained with a language coach to learn the Bengali language that is native to Kolkata and to speak a few words of it and English with an Anglo-Indian accent.

The city of Kolkata is as important a character in “Brown” as the humans. “The city in itself has such colors, such variety of cultures, traditions, there is a certain sleepiness to it, there is a certain, very interesting element of small town-ness, that was the first level of the visual template I was creating,” Deo told Variety adding that for the second level he drew upon the characters who are “hugely complex with a lot of baggage” and adding to the texture was the strong sonic template the city offers.

The cast also includes veteran actor Helen making her comeback, Soni Razdan, Surya Sharma and K.K. Raina.

Zee Studios has an extensive slate lined up for 2023. The series, while being instantly appealing to South Asian audiences, is also aimed at a global audience.

“I strongly believe that there is no better time than now for stories to travel, and as a studio we are always on the lookout for compelling stories for both series and films, which are deeply rooted in our culture and yet have a global appeal. ‘Brown’ is exactly that. It is a crime drama, set in Kolkata, a culturally diverse city with a rich heritage of arts and literature, and while it has crime as a backdrop, it really focuses on real human emotions which are universal. And that is what we feel will appeal to the global audience,” Ashima Avasthi, senior VP and head of content for Zee Studios Originals, told Variety.

Zee Studios chief business officer Shariq Patel added, “The Berlin Series Market is a great opportunity for us to showcase the series on the world stage. We have already got a number of meetings with broadcasters and platforms lined up and are looking to syndicate this globally.”

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