Exclusive: ‘No one came up to me and said how dare you kiss a girl,’ says Bani J on normalizing her bisexual character in ‘Four More Shots Please 2’

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Basking in the success of Four More Shots Please 1, Bani J aka Umang is all set for the second season of Amazon Prime’s Original show. The show, created by Rangita Pritish Nandy, features Bani along with Kirti Kulhari, Maanvi Gagroo, and Sayani Gupta as a quartet of friends and follows their relationships, work-life conflicts, ambitions and anxieties in a male-dominated society.

Four More Shots Please 2 continues to explore the exhilarating choices that these four young women make as they navigate their friendship, life, love, ambition and evolving freedoms in Millenial Mumbai as their lives and the city changes.

As we talk to Bani, she confidently tells PeepingMoon that she would have been happy to be a part of the show even it was not a massive hit.

Excerpts from the interview:

Did you expect so much love for Four More Shots Please?

No, I did not focus on if it will do well when I was shooting for the first season. More than anything I was just focusing on doing a good job. I was extremely excited to be a part of it when it was offered to me. It was the first time we were doing something like this in India and it was the first Amazon Original series to be launched last year. Also, there are so many women who are a part of this project. From the DOP, the director to the producer to the four main leads and the writers. There are so many cool things about this project. And when you know all of these things first hand, it becomes more important than how big a success will it be. But of course, it is a great thing that it has done so well. Even if it hadn’t done well, I would have been super happy to be a part of it.

After Bigg Boss 10, Four More Shots was your first big project. Why did you choose web space for a comeback?

This Amazon Original series just came to me and also because after Bigg Boss I just did not want to do films and tv for a while. I could not stand the idea of being in front of another camera because Bigg Boss was such an exhausting shoot. It was a 107-day shoot and I was there for the entire duration. So, the kind of shoot it was – 24 hours a day and no breaks, it was too much. So, after that, I took an entire year off and I was like I don’t want to do anything. I just wanted to figure out what I wanted to do next. Because I got offered a lot of work after Bigg Boss but I was like I don’t want to do anything. So, when this show came to me I was like yes, I am ready.

Did shooting two seasons with Sayani, Kirti, and Maanvi cement your real-life friendship too?

Yes, of course. We have been through such a unique journey on the shoot and at the set. We have also gone through so many things in our personal lives that we have discussed when we met on set. We were shooting for four months every day and then promoted it so we were always in touch. It is a very unique kind of relationship that we have and I just hope it continues.

For critics, the show celebrated 'flawed women'. Are we stressing too much on perfection solely for women?

There are so many films that are coming out that show you different aspects. For example, Shahid Kapoor’s Kabir Singh where he played a really messed up character. I think it also depends on what you are looking at. I think we have a pretty balanced palette when it comes to the kind of content we are putting out.

What new dimension will we see in Umang in season 2?

I thought that the first season for Umang was difficult but then I did not realize how compared to season 2, 1 was much easier for her – emotionally and what all she goes through. Season 2 really makes her grow up and take charge of what she wants to do and definitely what she wants in life. She goes through a massive struggle in season 2. I hope she comes out okay by the end of it so we will just have to see.

Umang - your character of a ‘bisexual looking for adventure’ created quite an uproar. It is still difficult for the Indian audience to accept such characters?

I don’t think so at all. Maybe I am just surrounded by people who are very supportive, accepting and are exposed to things. But not even one single person come up to me and say how dare you kissed a girl. Like I have not been trolled for portraying a bisexual character. In fact, the only thing I have gotten is praise for it. In fact, a lot of people are now coming up to me with their own stories and it feels great. That way it has been much more impactful.

You are so dedicated to your fitness. What keeps you going?

It’s just a drive. I think some people are born with this drive. I think if I have a proper routine and I am consistently dedicated to it, it will work very well for me. I love being disciplined.

Will Bollywood happen again?

I get film offers all the time but you need to have time to do it. I got offers for some really good projects but I could not do it because I was shooting for Four More Shots. You just have to make a choice.

As an ex-Rodie, have you been following the show and the controversies?

I haven’t been following it so I have nothing to say about that. Unfortunately, I have been very out of touch as to what is happening on reality TV space. I am sure everybody’s goal is to put out great content.

What defines Four More Shots Please for you?

The friendship between the four girls.

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