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Exclusive: Tanuj Virwani On ‘Code M’ S2: “Films, Shows Have Been About Men For Far Too Long. It’s Time For Women To Shine”

June 09, 2022 | by Janvi Manchanda

My most favourite crime drama is back with a season 2 and I cannot keep calm. Code M season 2 premiered on the OTT platform Voot Select on June 9. Starring Jennifer Winget, Tanuj Virwani, Swanand Kirkire and Atul Kumar in pivotal roles, Code M season 2 has been directed by Akshay Choubey and produced by Juggernaut Productions. Recently, we spoke to actor Tanuj Virwani who plays the role of lawyer and Major Monica Mehra’s (played by Jennifer Winget) friend and ex, Angad Sandhu. This season is huge for the actor as he has been praised by critics across platforms for his performance in the show. Tanuj has been an OTT regular and has worked in several female-centric shows like Illegal, Poison, Masaba Masaba and several others. In our exclusive and candid chat with the actor, he opened up all about working in female-centric shows, taking acting advice from his mother, actor Rati Agnihotri and playing Angad on Code M and more. So, let’s take a look at what Tanuj Virwani had to say.

 

Q. What made you say yes to Code M?

Tanuj Virwani: Okay. So, the reason why I say yes to Code M is because I’ve always wanted to do a show or a film that had an Army background. And I wanted to work with (producer/director) Samar Khan because he’s very authentic when it comes to having men and women in uniform. I mean look at his filmography and the kind of work that he’s done in the past. That just really made me gravitate towards the project. And when I got to know, Jennifer is going to be a part of it, in the first season and we had Seema Biswas and Rajat Kapoor, so a really really fine and ensemble star cast. And I was like, this is an absolute no brainer, I have to do this. So, that’s how it happened.

 

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Q. What did you like about Angad’s character?

Tanuj Virwani: It’s one of the most difficult things for an actor, the way I look at it, is when you’re asked to just be on camera and not really act as such and keep the conversation very free-flowing while keeping it informative at the same time and a bit flirty. You’re giving information to the audience, it’s exposition-heavy but at the same time you’re like a breath of fresh air because the rest of the people on board are life very serious and all about solving the murder and the case and all that stuff. And then you’ve got this like who’s not like any of them. I like being that fish out of water.

It was fun and challenging in its own ways so, I enjoyed it. Angad is someone who might just crack a random joke in the middle of a serious situation and don’t we all, like, know that one person in life who does that? And I’m like, how cool would it be? You know, like they’re discussing ispe assassination attempt hua hai and ye hua hai and voh hua hai and whatever is going on and he’s interesting in laal maas kahan milega and where will I get this food and that. So, it’s bizarre and it’s quirky and I like it.

 

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Q. You’ve worked in another legal drama in the past, did that help you prep for the role of a lawyer with close ties to the Army or was this one different?

Tanuj Virwani: Sorry to disappoint but I didn’t know such homework or preparation. I went for readings. Actually, I didn’t go for it, we were doing it over zoom call due to Covid back then. I just attended virtual zoom call meetings and whatever information I wanted or whatever questions I had, the writing team and the director had answers. And I, just like one good kid, followed whatever was on the page and that’s about it. That’s my interpretation of that. I can’t claim to have done a lot of research for that because I did not.

 

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Q. Angad looks like he has been pinning for Major Mehra for a while, is that true or is it more complex than it seems?

Tanuj Virwani: There’s a lot more to that than meets the eye, but it’s very refreshing when you need to play a character and be part of this dynamic where the relationship has already transpired off the camera and now what you’re seeing is the next phase in their relationship. Like they’re exes who have to work together but they’re also very mature and grown about the entire thing and they might have different partners as well. I think it’s very nice and healthy. We don’t often show that enough in our films and shows. Like once a relationship is done and over, it’s like there’s the door and I don’t really think that that’s how it should be. I really liked the fact that this is the kind of dynamic between Angad and Monica. And as for what happens in this season, you’ll just have to watch it from the 9th of June.

 

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Q. What was it like to work with Jennifer Winget?

Tanuj Virwani: It’s amazing. I met her during the first season and a lot of people were like don’t crack your stupid jokes in front of her and don’t say this and don’t do that and just do your work and go home. And I’m like – OMG, I feel like I’m going to boarding school and what y’all are expecting of me. And then I met her and she was nothing like the way she has been portrayed to me and she was like this really fun-loving, amazing friend and co-star, continues to be. I just had the best time with her. It was very effortless, very easy breezy and I like the energy.

 

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Also Read: Exclusive: Jennifer Winget Talks About ‘Code M’ Season 2, Playing Strong Female Characters, Her Divorce And More

Q. Your OTT filmography has so many titles that are either women-centric shows or are headlined by strong female characters. Has that been a conscious choice?

Tanuj Virwani: No, it has not been a conscious ploy on my part but having said that, I am very happy that I am able to be part of shoes where I’m not necessarily in front and centre because I think it’s about time we make our women take the centre stage, be it Neha in Illegal to Jennifer in Code M. And I really like being part of that because for far too long, it’s always been about the hero and about the men and the woman just being the arm candy but that shit’s got to change, right? And if you are saying that you’re part of this OTT revolution and stuff, then you have to go the distance. You have to say – okay, there are certain shows where I will be front and centre and there are certain shows where I don’t need to be front and centre. Also, it’s very flexible, these shows.

Season 2 of Code M is different from season 1. My character was different in season 1 and it’s different this time around. Like there’s a lot of flexibility so you never knot who comes to the forefront and when. But you need to be very secure as a person and as an actor and be like – okay, this is their time to shine, doesn’t mean I don’t get to shine. And sometimes you just need to take a step back because she is the hero of the show and this show works to the degree that it does because you have Jennifer playing Major Monica Mehra, which I think is a part that she was born to play. So, I’m very happy that I’m getting to do all this.

 

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Q. Do you ever seek advice or tips from your mother, Rati Agnihotri, about the craft? What’s the best piece of advice she has given you about being an actor?

Tanuj Virwani: I actually pick her brains all the time. It could be something like “Hey, should I do this show or film or do I not do it? If I say yes, then give me 3 reasons why and if I say no, then tell me what do I tell them, why am I not doing it?” It could be something regarding a scene if I have a scene to perform the next day and I’m a little confused or I’m in fix as to how I should play it out. I mean she’s an encyclopedia. She has been doing this longer than I’ve been on this planet so, I would be really silly if I did not pick her brains about it. But at the end of the day, she lets me take my own decisions.

She wants me to learn from all my choices, successes and failures. And the one amazing thing that she’s always told me is that this is not a typical 9 to 5 office job where you rise up the ranks slowly. It’s a roller coaster, one day you’re up and the next day your down and then you come back up. It’s crazy. It can be quite heady. So, she always tells me that don’t ever take success get to your head and don’t let failure go to your heart because that’s just the nature of the business. Also, as an actor, I always have to position myself a few months ahead of you guys, as the audience. I worked on Code M towards the latter half of 2021 and now, we’re in the middle of 2022. So, I have to focus currently on what I’m doing right now, which you will see a few months later. So, I’m always like – always look ahead and never behind.

 

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Also Read: ‘Code M’ Season 2 Review: Riveting Crime Drama With Stellar Performances. But Army-Sized Plot Holes Are Hard To Ignore

Q. Has being a part of Code M in any way informed/changed your opinion/ of the Indian Armed Forces or taught you something new about them that you didn’t know before?

Tanuj Virwani: I wouldn’t say it has changed my opinion, I would say it has strengthened what I’ve always felt about any man or woman in uniform. I think it’s amazing, the sacrifice that they’re willing to make for the country. Plus I think, one just looks hot in the uniform, be it the Navy, the Army or the Air Force, you name it. Because of Samar Khan we end up shooting in a lot of real locations, there are very few sets in Code M.

For season 2, we were shooting at Pune at the Bombay Sappers and it’s this amazing, amazing establishment that they got there. So, I requested them to take me for a ride around and they showed me everything, all the amenities and facilities and I’m like – wow, just wow. It’s incredible and it makes one so proud to be an Indian because let’s face it, it’s because of these men and women that we’re able to sleep peacefully every single night, knowing that they are patrolling the borders and taking care of us, these unknown soldiers.

 

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Code M season 2 is currently streaming on Voot Select. In case, you want to know more about the show, you read our review here.

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Janvi Manchanda

Janvi uses her pen to smash the patriarchy. Geet one day and Wednesday Addams the next. Writing is the bane of her existence and the object of all her desires!

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