This new Zee5 series is inspired by a Indo-Pak story

Dia Mirza and Mohit Raina, chat with us about Kaafir, the eight-episode series on Zee5

June 17, 2019 02:08 pm | Updated 02:08 pm IST

In the way it is used today, kafir means infidel. But if you go by the dictionary, the word has its roots in the Arabic kafara, meaning to deny, or to refuse to believe. This is probably where the story of Kaafir , the new Zee5 series, lies — in justice denied, and in the system’s refusal to take a person’s word.

Inspired by the true story of Shainaz (Kainaaz on screen, played by Dia Mirza), Kaafir documents a woman’s journey for justice. Escaping from Pakistan, Kainaaz jumps into a river with the intention to kill herself, only to cross the border into India, and be caught by the Indian army who believe she’s a terrorist. Her daughter Seher (Dishita Jain) is born in captivity. Vedant Rathod (Mohit Raina) helps her fight her case, amidst many twists and turns to the story. Edited excerpts from an interview with Dia and Mohit.

Dia, how did the character Kainaz transform you as a person?

A lot of people ask me how I will leave Kainaaz, and I say I hope she doesn’t leave, because she has made me a better person. The one thing I have discovered is that we all have challenges; the challenges vary, but our response to the challenges makes us people we are. When Sonam (Nair, the director) was describing Shainaz, the real woman she met, she said three things about her that really struck me as extraordinary: her sense of peace, her calm, and her grace despite what her experiences were.

Dia, theseries marks your debut in the digital space. Were you wary?

I am so excited because as a woman, as a feminist, as an actor and as a human being, I think I could not have had a better story to launch in this part of career.

Mohit, you’ve played diverse roles. What is your take-away from each?

Every character gives you something or the other, and you can’t calculate it unless you are living the character. You learn something about the character that stays with you. In Kaafir, I lived with Vedant for 65 days. He is very humble and he made me selfless, a better human being. In Uri, I got discipline; in Battle of Saragarhi, I understood what leadership is.

What were your challenges?

Mohit: This show has been made with a lot of love and hardship. The shooting was in Himachal, where the temperature would dip down to -3° to -5°C. We’d shoot in Bombay and shoot with those same heavy clothes in 43°C. That was a task itself. But what people can connect with right now is the soul of the show which is visible.

What was it like to have a child on the sets of such an intense story?

Dia: I already knew Dishita because I had done one workshop with her and was totally blown away. This child has the remarkable quality of being present 100% all the time. Dishita made me a mother. You don’t need to biologically produce a child to be a mother. She really evolved the most intense maternal instinct in me. I went into withdraw on the last day of shooting with her. I couldn’t stop crying. She still calls me Dia Ammi, so that helps.

Why do you think there is a sudden surge in Kashmir-related content?

Mohit: When there are conflicts there are bound to be stories which are intense, horrifying. Love and emotions that generate many stories.

Dia: Because it is necessary. The problem has always existed there and it needs solutions, for which art is the biggest instrument of change and the most powerful one too.

Kaafir is currently playing on Zee5

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