Veteran actor Johny Lever’s daughter, Jamie Lever, is making her lead debut with Kabeer Khurana’s short film Cuddles. Starring Viveck Vaswani and Komal Chhabria and produced by Raakesh Desai, Cuddles streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar from December 3. Based on a short story by Larissa Theule (Kafka and the Doll), it is written and directed by Kabeer Khurana and co-written by Avirat Parekh.
Talking about Cuddles, Jamie said, “I was sold on the script when I met Kabeer, and understood his vision as he narrated the story to me. It was difficult for me, as I have always done comedy and this is a very unique project, very subtle, very real, from the heart, different from all the other things I’ve done in the past. I was just excited to play a fresh and refreshing character.”
She adds, “When it comes to comedy, you can go over the top and be loud with your performance, but when you have a subject like this, you have to really be subtle, heartfelt and underplay to bring out those deep emotions. Kabeer was extremely helpful. We did a couple of readings and he made me realize how you can touch those emotions and bring them out. Overall, I had a wonderful time working with the entire team, a young energetic and motivated batch, so sure of what they wanted to do. I also like that Kabeer incorporated a little singing, which is one of my strengths. I got to sing live and record my own songs, which is a great opportunity.”
Speaking about his choice of actors, Jamie and Viveck, Kabeer Khurana said, “Casting for short films is always challenging. Since shorts don’t have a market, the effort is always to not just cast a competent actor who fits the look of the character but who is also a known face to gain the right visibility online. A lot of names were thrown into the mix, Jamie’s and Viveck’s names also came up. My mom was a big fan of Jamie’s stand-up and online content and I thought it would be interesting to have her break the stereotype of just being a comedian, to being a nuanced and emotional performer.”
He goes on, “I felt that Jamie had been unfairly pigeonholed and was incredibly versatile. The film captures her diverse talents and she also sings a song that plays over the end credits. Casting for Viveck was equally challenging. We wanted to get an actor who could bring in that warmth, innocence, simplicity and age-old wisdom and Viveck was absolutely the right fit. It was an honor to work with both Jamie and Viveck. Apart from being great actors, they are wonderful, friendly people and I would love to work with them again. We’ve had some great conversations.”
Kabeer is a 15-time international award-winning filmmaker, who has earned a Filmfare nomination for his last project, Suttabaazi.
Viveck Vaswani is a veteran actor, director, producer and educationist. Speaking about his role, Viveck said, “When Kabeer approached me, I was very happy to be part of it. Even though now I am in education, working as the dean of the school of contemporary media at Pearl Academy, nothing gives me greater joy than being able to act. To top it all, it’s a warm script, which is the need of the hour.’
Producer Raakesh Desai shared, “Cuddles has reignited my creative thirst. In contrast to my experience in the banking industry, this is a different learning opportunity and a way to contribute to cinema. Working with highly talented people like Kabeer, Jamie, Viveck, Komal and the production team made the experience even more enriching. The story is short and sweet, simple and relatable.”
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