Guess the connect between Ed Sheeran and biryani? It’s the new video Biryani Anthem – Shape of You Parody by three Indian comics. The Facebook link of this video got 2 million views within 24 hours, and its cast Ahmed Shariff, Praveen Kumar and Sanjay Manaktala, all three from Bangalore, are both elated and surprised.
The video was Shariff’s concept – he was the only one who had felt sure of a strong response. Kumar and Manaktala, who agreed to be part of the video, are rather amazed. “I didn’t know that people are as mad for biryani as we were. I thought we’d get three or four thousand views and then it’d phase out. But it’s just getting bigger,” says Manaktala. At last count, the number of Facebook views had crossed 3.22 million. Delhi-based comic Amit Tandon has a cameo in the parody video.
Why biryani of all Indian dishes? “Why not? It’s the most popular,” says Shariff. “Also, we have a history of making biryani-related sketches and Praveen is known as the biryani man in our group.”
To this, Kumar adds, “Biryani is something you can have without anything on the side... It’s one full dish. Even in the cheekiest (read dingiest) of restaurants, you can safely order biryani and it’ll be somewhat decent. But I cannot express through words, my love for biryani!”
The lyrics in the parody video are funny and the scenes hilarious. “There’s a line that says ‘I’m 92 still I like biryani’. Shariff asked me to get onto the weighing scale and it was showing much more than 92,” says Kumar with a chuckle, and adds, “I told him, let’s not show the scale but he said we have to. So we calibrated the machine and reduced it somewhat to show 92!”
Though shot in the streets with little help from technicians, the video is being liked not just by fans of Ed Sheeran but also by those who can relate to Indians gorging themselves on food at a wedding or at a newlywed friend’s house. “It took me less than an hour to write the first draft of the song, but it took a month-and-a-half to shoot,” says Shariff, who dealt with the editing technicalities single-handedly.
“It was back-breaking work, because it’s really hard to find people in Bangalore. In a place like Mumbai, things related to the show business happen really fast, but in Bangalore, it’s really tough. So, I had to myself learn how to do green screen work, special effects and pretty much everything, except the filming bit, for which I got two cameramen,” says Shariff.
The hardest part was yet to come. “Finding props for the shoot was the toughest part,” continues Shariff. “Even to find a simple thing such as Donald Trump’s red tie, I had to walk around for 2-3 hours in Commercial Street (a market area in Bangalore) in this summer [heat]! When you see these things, you think it’s no big deal, but when you actually look for something [specific], you don’t find it.”
For Manaktala, the most difficult part was meeting Shariff’s expectations – Shariff, he says, is like Mr Perfectionist Aamir Khan. “Anyone who knows Ahmed knows that he’s very hard-working,” says Manaktala. “Look at the doorbell shot, where Praveen is holding a fork, knife and a napkin; Ahmed would have asked him to record that shot about eight times, even though it’s such a simple [one]. But now, I’m happy I didn’t back out of it and had fun with Ahmed.”