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Fasten your seat belts: Indian National Award-winning actor Arjun Rampal will make his digital debut as a suicidal pilot in the psychological thriller ‘The Final Call’, releasing on February 22 on the streaming platform, Zee5.

Based on Priya Kumar’s novel ‘I Will Go With You: The Flight Of A Lifetime’, the trailer shows a troubled pilot embarking on a murder-suicide mission with 300 passengers aboard his flight.

“I want to put it out there that if you are mentally disturbed, speak to a psychiatrist... It’s important that you do it,” said Rampal in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

Excerpts from our interview with the actor, who filmed extensively in Kashmir, for ‘The Final Call’.

Q: What can you reveal about ‘The Final Call’?

A: It’s a difficult question because it’s a psychological thriller and I am afraid if we start talking, we may give out too much information. Even while watching the trailers, I was constantly worried if a particular shot gave away too much. It’s about a pilot who has a mental illness. He’s depressed and he has taken the plane up in the skies. There’s also this spiritual, philosophical and astrological angle that comes alive from the wonderful actors who play the passengers. Their back stories will be revealed as beliefs like karma is discussed. The thrilling aspects come alive when you are kept guessing what will the pilot do now.

Q: As I watched the trailer, my first question was how did a pilot — who’s so visibly disturbed — be allowed to fly a plane in the first place? How did he get away unnoticed?

A: On February 22, all your questions will be answered. We have all the answers, I promise. But, I totally see your point and I am glad that the trailer evoked such a sentiment in you.

Q: You are playing a troubled character in the series. How did you get into his head?

A: You think of life and you do it [laughs]... Not everyone gets my wry sense of humour, do they? But seriously, my job is to lie and as an actor this is what you are here to do. You are on call to create a belief pattern and all of us, including me, has seen many ups and downs in our lives. You draw from that personal pain and experiences. You look towards the observations you have made in your life to play a character like this and magnify that. For me, acting is like having a switch that turns on and off. Sometimes, you don’t switch off consciously to stay in the character.

Q: This web series tackles mental health which is in itself unique. Your thoughts?

A: Mental health is so relevant in our times. Sometimes, we are involved with our social media lives that you end up completely isolating yourself. As actors, it’s important we speak about this issue. I want to put it out there that if you are disturbed, speak to a psychiatrist. It’s important that you do it. The experts will help you dig deep down and make peace with what’s troubling you. Our show, ‘The Final Call’, is about all of that. Will my character ever find peace or is it too late?

Q: Have you ever gone through such a phase in your life where you needed therapy and does this understanding come from a personal space?

A: I have seen my friends in depression and they don’t simply know what’s going wrong with them. They just know that things are going really down and down into a dark space. Sometimes, all you need is an outstretched arm to help you climb out from that dark space. It can be anyone — your friend, your therapist, your mentor, your coach or a medication — to help you be in a better state of mind. The mind is such a tricky space, but you can control it through medication. I have seen very young people commit suicide and I don’t know why they do it. You see all that and wonder what they have gone through to make them just want to throw in the towel.

Q: The trailer of ‘The Final Call’ briefly touches upon terrorism. In this current political climate in India, where the relationship with Pakistan is strained, do you think your series is timely? And, should art be politicised?

A: Art shouldn’t be politicised at all. But lot of uncanny incidents happened while filming this series. People had weird, bizarre experience that touches the spiritual and supernatural space. While I was shooting for ‘The Final Call’, I remember reading about that pilot who took down the plane in Malaysia [MH370, The Malyasian Airlines Jet that saw Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah plan a murder-suicide mission where 239 people on board disappeared]. It was believed that the pilot was seriously depressed. He took everyone down with him. You think such things don’t happen in real life, but it did happen. Imagine, when you board a plane you are completely helpless. It’s a leap of faith that you take as a passenger and he is just trusting you that you will take him home safely.

Q: Did you read Priya Kumari’s novel ‘I Will Go With You: The Flight Of A Lifetime” as a part of your legwork for The Final Call?

A: Yes and the series is very similar to the book... When Zee5 approached me, we felt that nobody was doing a psychological thriller series with an angle on philosophy, spirituality and astrology. At that point there were many who were doing gangster dramas and comedies.

Q: Is the process of acting in a web series different from shooting a film?

A: I found shooting for a movie easier because you have over 70 days to film. But the work is a lot more on a web series. You are filming a lot because there’s so much footage to capture. On the bright side, you get to explore the nuances of your character a lot more — the arc and the graph. While you have the gift of time, you can’t afford to get lazy or complacent. In a movie, the sword of a film’s commercial success hangs on you and you tend to manipulate the way you make a film based on that fear. That fear is completely ruled out while making a web series. You enter a purist level of entertainment.

Did you know?

“‘Mirzapur’... I started on a Sunday and I couldn’t sleep until I saw all the episodes. All the actors have done such fantastic jobs. I felt so proud watching it.”: The series that Arjun Rampal bing-watched last week.

Don’t Miss It!

‘The Final Call’ will premiere on February 22 at Zee5, the video on demand service by Zee Entertainment.