Nakuul Mehta Interview Part 1: ‘Idea was to make TV cool’ says the actor about his web series I Don’t Watch TV
Arjun is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who, before stepping into the glamorous world of entertainment reporting, assisted acclaimed filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
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The idea was to make TV “cool” – Nakuul Mehta, on his recently concluded web series, I Don’t Watch TV.
Well, many have tried and many have failed…but that’s mainly because they didn’t make a show as funny, quirky and kickass as I Don’t Watch TV. If making TV cool was the idea, then makers Nakuul Mehta, Alekh Sangal and Ajay Singh have definitely managed to break the ice with this show.
The world of Indian television isn’t all that vanilla after all and finally fans and viewers get an inside look at the crazy, twisted, fun and hilarious world of TV actors. A truly path-breaking venture on many levels, I Don’t Watch TV is loosely inspired by Nakuul and his colleagues’ personal experiences.
In an exclusive interview with TubeScoop, Nakuul talks about the origin of the series, plans for season 2, the next web series he’s working on and whether or not digital entertainment content has the power and potential to take over television.
Here is part one of the excerpts from our chat with Nakuul Mehta. You can read part two here.
Let’s talk about how and when you came up with the idea for I Don’t Watch TV…
Well, I’ve been sort of mulling over this for the last 2-3 years, I’ve been now doing TV for over 4 years and I know Ajay and Alekh for a much longer time.
So, through my experiences on TV, I kind of realised that there were two kinds of people who I would generally meet– 60-70 percent of them would be fans of my TV shows or know my character and be excited to meet me, and then there would be the other 30 percent who I would meet through friends or whatever, who’re not from the industry. And a lot of them would ask, ‘So, what do you do?’ and I’d say, ‘I’m an actor’ and then they would ask, ‘So, where do you act?’ and I say, ‘I do a show on TV…’ and the first thing most of them would say after that would be; ‘Hey, I don’t watch TV.’
Thing is, TV, in a lot of ways, is looked down upon, compared to cinema, unlike the west. So, when I shared this with Ajay [Singh] and Alekh [Sangal], our first thought was; ‘Listen TV is way cooler than we think, it impacts way too many people for us to ignore it.’ And yet, television humour is very sort of archaic yaar…it’s all about, ‘iski pant utaro, uski utaro,’ you know—your usual television comedy shows.
We thought about how cool it would be if you actually see television with all its idiosyncrasies, and where you’re not talking about other people but where the stars of TV are willing to sort of take a dig at themselves. Idea was to make TV cool.
And then it became larger than just TV– we wanted to talk about the media in general and how the celebrity-fan equation works. This is something I know from personal life where even a celebrity is not sure how one should pose with a fan, like you’re always doubtful– should you hold them, should you not. So I thought, ‘these kind of things would be so interesting to explore.’ At the same time, the web was really sort of opening up to new content creators.
The germ came up a year and a half/ two years back but we got seriously working on it last year.
The series has a host of guest stars/ film and media personalities like Rajeev Masand, Anurag Kashyap… How easy/ difficult was it to get all these people on board?
To be honest, we’ve gone all out with this one! Initially we thought it’s going to be bloody hard– why would someone want to do a web series??
But some of them were friends and they were happy to come on board. Some were blackmailed because they were friends! Some of them we wanted to partner with, like Rajeev Masand… and these are people who we have met randomly. But we reached out to them and…Masand, I think he’s someone who’s ahead of his time– he’s always doing something new and cool. He got the point.
[Anurag] Kashyap was chased for two and half to three months– through emails, manager, through airport—Al (Alekh) bumped into him randomly. So we did everything we could to get him on board and I think it reached a point where he said, ‘yaar, chalo tumhara trailer dekha hai, kuch toh kar rahe ho tum log… karte hain.’ (laughs).
Talking about Anurag Kashyap’s hilarious cameo – the whole ‘Saas Wars’ thing – who came up with that bit?
Most of it is scripted. We obviously let the actors come and do what they want but most of our show is scripted. The ideas come from the three of us but Ajay is our main writer. And a lot of it comes from his dark head yaar… and he’s very, very dark (laughs). And Kashyap is one of our favourite directors…we were like, ‘How cool would it be to direct our favourite director.’