I felt that it was high time to bring in a little change – Alok Nath
Known as the ‘Babuji’ of the industry, Alok Nath has recently added a new shade to his persona. Having influenced films and television for a long time, the esteemed actor is now making his Internet debut with a fun chat show called Sinskaari. The series on Viacom18’s digital platform VOOT is produced by the popular duo – Raghu Ram and Rajiv Laxman and will see the ‘Sanskaari Babuji‘ as the host who quizzes celebrities on their deepest secrets and fantasies.
Sinskaari that started on May 18 had the producer duo themselves as the first guests. With segments like ‘Quicky with Babuji’ and ‘Babuji Ki Booty’ this show has surely piqued our interest. Pandolin caught up with Alok Nath to learn more about his preparations for the show, his apprehensions and the decision to experiment with his on-screen avatar.
Sinskaari is very different from the Alok Nath that the industry knows. What encouraged you to experiment with this new role?
The major factor was that this was a new domain. It was something which is new to all of us, so I just wanted to experiment with something that I haven’t done before. Therefore, I said yes to it.
How do you think does your on-screen persona fits in a concept like Sinskaari?
This is something that the audience will have to decide because we have some aspects of the Babuji persona on the show as well. But here the Babuji becomes a little naughty. So how that will be tackled, is something that we will know as the show proceeds.
Were there any apprehensions about the show and your role in it?
Initially I was apprehensive about Sinskaari, but we discussed a lot and then I thought to myself, “Why not!” I have been doing similar kind of work all this while and here somebody is offering me something that is totally different, it is funny and will also relate more to the youth because it is on the web. The youth is more into gizmos – mobiles and desktops, so it is a nice chance to relate to them. I felt that it was high time to bring in a little change. Till date I have done so much work but nothing like this has come my way before and now that it has, I want to experiment with it and I am extremely happy about the show.
What sets Sinskaari apart from other chat shows across the board?
I haven’t yet seen much on the web, but even then, by itself this series is funny and has entertaining segments. The show has a little more adult content and that is absolutely diverse from the image that I’ve been carrying from a very long time. This image definitely helps you to glide through with ease, but sometimes it becomes a burden as well. There is a stage where you feel like doing something different, and when this (show) came my way, I opted for it willingly and good that I did because when we shot it, it was entertaining not only for the audience, but also for the people who are working on it. Shooting it was great fun.
How did you prepare yourself to fit into the role of a chat show host?
Like I said, I was a little nervous because I had never done something like this before – a comic show which has slightly adult content and is a chat show. But the experience of being an actor was extremely helpful and I felt good doing it. As far as preparations were concerned, we would rehearse before shooting, take took some mock shots and then watch them and make changes accordingly. Moreover, while shooting it, the experience wasn’t much different from shooting a film or a serial because we rehearsed and improvised a lot. We would take small shots and divide it into the segments. Overall, it came easily to me.
But do you think it is difficult to break an image that has been associated with you for such a long time?
In our country, definitely, it is extremely tough because here you are risking your career as you don’t know how the audience will react. If they hate it and don’t accept it, then you are doomed; there is a possibility that it might even tarnish your original image. But on the other hand, the audience today is more literate, more intelligent and most importantly they are more receptive. Therefore, I thought that one should give it a chance.
On what basis are celebrities invited to the show, and how do you determine the topics you’ll discuss?
I wouldn’t know that because that is the prerogative of the producers and the channel. It could be their availability, their star status, their willingness and so on. Also there is a script but it is quite flexible.
You have immense experience with movies and television, how is a web series different?
There was actually no difference in shooting. The only difference is the medium – when it is put up on the web, the viewing is different because you are watching it on your phone. But while shooting it, it’s like shooting for a film or television show.
What are the significant changes in the industry you have seen, particularly with regards to the new internet generation?
It is going at such a fast pace now, everything is changing so fast and suddenly. What is relevant today, may be history tomorrow. We have to go step-by-step and neck and neck with the trends and simply entertain. One has to keep abreast with whatever is happening and generate that kind of entertainment. Plus, we cannot latch on to what has happened before, we have to dig a well every day and quench our thirst; entertainment is also like that.
You cannot create entertainment in isolation, you have to create content that the audience likes; it is a profession for all of us in the industry, and we have to cater to the taste of the audience.
In today’s time, how will a platform like VOOT affect television as a medium?
The web is still in its childhood stage. And I don’t really know because this is the first time that I am doing something for the web. But as the generation is getting used to the digital medium of entertainment, I think it will be a huge step forward.
What is the response to the show till now?
We got an excellent response to the teaser. The producers and the channel are very positive about the response; therefore, we are putting in more effort to popularize it. We have our fingers crossed and hope that it’s received well as it will open up new avenues, not just for me, but for a lot of people.
So will we see you experimenting with roles in films too?
Yes definitely, why not? Now that it has started, I would love to explore other options. It also depends upon how receptive the audience is. If they genuinely like or appreciate my work, then definitely I’ll be willing to do different kinds of roles. But that is not solely in my hand because as an actor you do whatever you are offered.