The voice is that of the director, the loved up couple are merely acting, and their audience is a large TV crew. What’s On is taking an inside look at the filming of dramedy Davai Potseluemsya (Shall We Kiss), which will debut on Ukrainian television channel 1+1 later this year. We are met by producer Natalia Stribuk, she and the crew are reshooting scenes for the series and it is the last day of filming before it moves into post-production. There is every reason to believe the show will be a hit, it has been before – in Israel.
Shall We Kiss is an adaptation of Tel Aviv’s hottest TV show, which explores modern love in a series about adults on a quest for true romance, intimacy and meaning in life. Stribuk outlines the plot.
“It’s basically three love stories,” she says. But the path of true love never runs smoothly. In the first, a man returns to Ukraine after immigrating to the US as a boy. In Kyiv, he meets the woman he had a crush on in school, and the pair discover there is a spark between them. However, a love triangle develops – there’s a femme-fatal with her own designs and after seducing him one night, claims to be pregnant. As the couple faces obstacles on the path to happiness, parallel plot lines interconnect with one another in ever surprising and moving ways. In the second plot, a rather unattractive woman is trying to find true love through dating websites. In the third story, the unattractive woman’s best friend suspects that her husband is cheating on her – and he is, with our heroine, the one searching for true love. The wife wants to leave her husband but discovers she is pregnant to him...
The Making Of
Stribuk says while her job is fun, the schedule can be gruelling. “Yesterday we started at 04.30 and worked until half past midnight.” As it is the last day of filming, the cast and crew are in a celebratory mood, punctuating breaks in shooting with shots of whisky. It has taken five months to get to this point; four weeks into shooting there was a change of cast as one actor was deemed not to fit the character. And with a total crew of 50 to 70 people to make each 45-minute episode, it does not come cheap,” Stribuk says.
To recoup costs, the series is in Russian language to make it marketable outside of Ukraine and cross-border negotiations are already underway. The scenes we are watching involve the former classmates – Yuriy, played by well-known Russian star of stage, film and television, Artem Tkachenko, while Russian stage, TV and film actress, and former dancer, Yulia Takshina fills the role of Tatiana. Waiting in the wings, so to speak, is the woman that will come between them, Yana, played by Ukrainian actress Katerina Guliakova. In a break in shooting, we chat with Guliakova about what it is like to play the femme fatale and with Tkachenko about being a man torn between two women.
We are told you are playing the bad girl; tell us about your character.
Well, there is a love triangle and I’m the third wheel, the one that’s unwanted. When you are reading the script, the role of Yana seems to be quite negative, but I’ve got used to play bad girls. When the director and spoke about the role I told him I was expecting to play the bitch. He assured me there were no good or bad characters as they are all good in their own way, and everyone would reach their goals consistent with their beliefs and upbringing.
But what is she doing to reach her goals?
Let’s say, she’s marking her territory with not the best methods, however remaining a third wheel.
Did you add something personal to the character?
Of course! Every actor does. For example, after reading the script for the Yana character, I realised there were a lot of explicit scenes I wasn’t sure about. But once again, the director told me to calm down as he’s not a dictator and doesn’t need more from me than I can give, basically saying I can improvise. Everything would be fine he promised me. And he kept his promise.
So playing the role came easy to you?
I can’t say it comes easy, but I’m quite enjoying it. It’s interesting because it’s easy for me to play good girls as I consider myself to be good. So playing a bad girl is challenging and this is what makes acting interesting. So I’m searching for the character’s good sides to justify her behaviour.
What other roles have you played?
I’ve done a number of roles. Among the biggest is 160 episodes of Serdtsu ne Prikazhesh (You Can’t Order Your Heart) with famous Ukrainian actor Anatoliy Khostikoev. I played his daughter – an interesting multi-faceted character who used to be a junky, a representative of the golden youth of this country, pregnant and the girlfriend of a prisoner.
Tell us a few words about your character Yuriy.
Sometimes parent’s egos get in the way and they don’t think about the happiness of their kids when a marriage falls apart. That’s what happened to Yuriy when his parents divorced and he had to leave his hometown to go to the US with his dad. He grew up there, started his own business; his story is pretty similar to many others. But he was lacking a simple, normal relationship and family happiness. In other words, he was under-loved, as his parents thought financial security could replace family happiness. His mother is sick and he has to come back home. Here, he finds Tanya who he was in love with at school, but when they meet she doesn’t recognise him. Both of them are questioning themselves and what they need from life. Love blossoms between them and everything seems to be perfect but...
...But there is another girl?
Yes, that’s what I call the cruelty of love. I do understand why Yana acts like this. She is also trying to gain her own happiness and her own love and doing it the only way she can – by creating intrigue.
Is this story similar to your personal story?
In some ways yes, especially the childhood part, however I’m happily married with no love triangle involved. I do understand what Yuriy is facing in the series and I’m honestly glad that this is not my story.
Do you think the show will be popular?
I think yes, as we are telling a lovely story with a happy ending. The situations shown can happen to anyone so I’m sure the show will find a response from the audience. There is a lot of honesty in the script and I hope our audience will learn something good from it.
Shall We Kiss (Davai Potseluemsya) will screen on 1+1 this autumn.
by Jared Morgan and Vadym Mishkoriz