Gulshan Grover and Baba Sehgal in new entertaining digital avatars
VOOT, Viacom18’s ‘digital video-on-demand platform’ for ‘the always-on generation’ has been regaling viewers with its unique content since its launch. After introducing Babuji i.e. Alok Nath in the role of a chat show host for Sinskaari and another quirky series titled Chinese Bhasad, VOOT has recently seen the launch of two new series titled Badman and Soadies. While Badman is a web film starring Bollywood’s famous bad man Gulshan Grover in the lead, Soadies is a sitcom, a spin off on the popular relaity show Roadies and features rap sensation Baba Sehgal. In a tete-a-tete with Pandolin, Grover and Sehgal talk about their new roles and taking the digital platform by storm.
You have been part of the film industry for decades, how different was the experience of working on a web-film?
I have had the pleasure of working in some mega projects and at the same time got to work with new age filmmakers in films like I Am Kalam and Kaun Kitna Paani Me. I also had the pleasure of working in Hollywood and international cinema. But this is for the first time that I have worked in a film called Badman where I play the lead and which will be shown to digital audiences. It is new and also intimidating as one doesn’t know what the taste of the audience is and what kind of subjects would work. Honestly, it is challenging but I have never been scared of challenges.
Can you tell us something about the web-film and elaborate a little on your character?
This film introduces my popular character Badman who decides to relaunch himself as a hero in the film industry. With Chunky Pandey as my arch nemesis, this part-fiction, part-reality film explores the dark yet funny side of Bollywood. The web-film will be aired in four parts. It uses my real name Gulshan Grover and my popular character Badman.
What can viewers expect from Badman in this movie?
I would say that first and foremost is entertainment. Second is the unusual way in which the story is narrated. And the performance is an area where I have done khalnayaki in a more funny and entertaining way. I think they should only expect that Gulshan Grover would do to the best of his ability because hard work and sincerity are the only two things that are known to me. The audience should watch this film with an open mind because the digital market is still evolving. And Viacom 18 who are known for making diverse films are going to offer something unique.
According to you, what advantages do a a medium like VOOT give to content producers?
They are going to offer an interesting platform to forward-thinking filmmakers who have great ideas. Because it gets difficult for smaller ideas to find any takers amongst the 100-crore clubs. So if a film like Badman, which is more of an experiment, is successful, it will open doors for many other talented filmmakers and writers. If they can think of a film with Gulshan Grover as a hero and use his popular trademark and persona by using Badman as a title, they will also look at making other films. By this, VOOT can make a whole lot of a difference to all those filmmakers and writers who often say, “Hamare paas bahut fantastic kahaani hai, par koi support nahi karta as the system doesn’t allow,”
What message would you like to give viewers about Badman?
The only expectation they should have from the film is that we are going to entertain viewers in a major way. The makers at Viacom 18 have not spared any cost. In fact, there were times when I was made to change various costumes. There are talented young people who have worked on this film. Director Soumik Sen of Gulaab Gang fame and writer Anuvab Pal have written very interesting scenes. I have allowed myself to flow with the faith and belief of the director, producer and the writer.
Although I’ve done a lot of work around the world, but I honestly have no knowledge of what would be the expectations of someone who is sitting at home and watching something on their mobile or laptop. That is completely new to me. I did not have any idea or thought on how exactly it should be done. So I have completely allowed their vision to lead me. The way that the director, writer, Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures and Monika Shergill, Content Head, Digital Ventures have used their vision, I’m really happy to be a part of it.
How did the idea for a spinoff on Roadies develop? Tell us more about Soadies?
It is a very interesting way of a spoof on Roadies. I play the main character who is funny and different. After a long time, I’m coming into acting. This particular thing really excited me as it was similar to my social media spoofs and what I do on my Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Viacom18 had this idea, that which have been working on for the past six months. The show is a spoof on MTV Roadies where my family of four comprising my mother, two kids and me are all fans of Roadies. I play Ballu Soadie and Anju Mahendru plays Santo Soadie and we are on the quest to find a Roadie in our family. We’re a typical loud Punjabi family from Chandigarh who have moved to Delhi.
So, for everything happening in the house, there’s a task. For instance, if my mother has to give me a glass of water, there’s a task involved and she has to complete it. But it’s a very simple show with a lot of fun and humor and a lot of my tweets have been used in this.
What kind of a character are you playing?
It is a parody where there is a family. And in that family, my and I mother are hardcore fans of Roadies. My father has has auditioned for Roadies. So my mother tells me that my father wasted his life auditioning and now even I want to do the same. So it is the legacy which is passed on from my father to me and I’m passing it to my younger generation.
Is it closer to what the show Roadies is all about?
Yes, it is. It is based on the format of Roadies and there are stories around the concept. And it is an episodic, so every episode has a different story.
What do you think people will really like about the show?
We all are aware that people are crazy about Roadies. Plus there are a lot of jokes about it. But this digital platform is a different concept. First, they need to get hooked to this concept. Then gradually it will be a viewer’s thing.
Why did you choose a web series to make your comeback as such?
I’ve been in the South for the past seven-eight years and have done a lot of Tamil, Kannada and Telugu songs. I am a popular actor in the south. They call me the power singer there (laughs). In today’s time, it is all about the Internet. So I have always believed that my comeback as the indie-pop singer is all because of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. All these social media platforms have played a major role in establishing me again as an indie-pop artist. I’m the only one who is doing such work. I have released almost 24 music videos in a year’s time, which sets a record. And it’s because of that that Viacom 18 must have thought of featuring me in Soadies and I grabbed the opportunity. It is my kind of thing. It is like a khichdi of all the social media spoofs in one.
Does it have any connection with music?
Yes if you check the title track of Soadies, it is a very hardcore hip-hop kind of a track, which is very funny at the same time. It is composed by me and is a nice music video.
You’ve been around in the entertainment industry for a long time. What are some significant changes that you have witnessed?
Obviously, there is no music industry in India as such now. Ever since we got introduced to the Internet, even the music companies are targeting the platforms on the Internet.
And what are you working on in terms of music?
Besides being occupied with Telugu, Tamil and Kannada cinema, I’m also doing my own tracks for my online channel. I’m also playing a cameo in Yash Raj film called Bank Chor which also features Riteish Deshmukh and Vivek Oberoi. I even play the villain in mainstream Telugu and Tamil films.