Meet Salil Jamdar, the actor behind Shudh Desi Gaane’s Bollywood spoofs

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jun 02, 2016 15:06 IST

His parody channel on YouTube has over a million views. Salil Jamdar’s spoof videos have made him a social media star, but he calls his journey “a backbencher’s success story”.

If things fell into place according to his academic plans, Salil Jamdar would have been an IIT graduate. But when his IIT dream didn’t work out, he settled for an engineering course at KJ Somaiya College, Vidyavihar. However, he was far from happy. It didn’t take him long to figure out engineering wasn’t something he was passionate about. After graduation, he was placed at TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) but survived only a few months there.

Today, the Thane boy is the face of Shudh Desi Gaane, a YouTube channel that spoofs Bollywood songs. When we meet him at Mamagoto in Andheri (W), he seems rather conscious. This is his fourth interview, he says, and he keeps his answers short.

Salil Jamdar strikes a pose (Photo: Vidya Subramanian/HT; Location courtesy: Mamagoto, Andheri (W))

“I used to be a geek at school. But I became a backbencher during college, and my creative juices started to flow. Thank god for that,” he laughs.

Video calling

After his short stint at TCS, Jamdar enrolled for an acting course at Whistling Woods. Along with acting skills, he also picked up mannerisms of popular actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan.

Jamdar’s YouTube journey began in 2014 with the web series, Shudh Desi Endings (SDE). But once stagnancy hit, he wanted to exploit his acting abilities some more. Secretly, he also wanted to put his distorted hook lines of Bollywood songs to better use. So, when the producers of SDE approached him with the idea of starting a channel of parodies, he jumped at it. Some of the most popular spoofs on the channel are Jabra Fan (695k views), Hamari Adhuri Kahani (849k views) and Gerua (1million views). Almost a year-old, the channel is now venturing into English songs.

Also read: What happens when popular TV actors star in a satire of the TV industry?

His recent spoof of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk (his maiden English parody) clocked in 1,46,975 views in just a week. It was a 24-hour job, he notes. Shot without any cuts in a studio set of a chawl, it took the crew four retakes to get the final cut. In the video, you see Jamdar flaunt Bruno Mars’s signature Uptown Funk moves, and with his lyrics, he takes pot shots at the hypocrisy of the Indian audience about looking down on Hindi and considering everything English cool.

While he says that it was a challenge to shoot a one-take video, Jamdar still ranks his parody of Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo’s title track higher in terms of difficulty. “I had to shave my hands and back, and dance barefoot wearing a 25kg lehenga,” he says. While Jamdar writes his own material, and conceptualises and acts in the videos, he is backed by a team of choreographers, directors and producers who take care of the logistical and technical requirements.

Not a social butterfly

The YouTube star confesses that he is a far cry from being a social media addict. Is he on Twitter and Instagram? Yes (“People coaxed me into it”). But will he respond to you? He might, but only after days or weeks. “I am not that guy with the millions of followers or hundreds of likes on my display picture. I can’t take a selfie, add filters and upload it,” he says. His batchmates from his college days are “mostly shocked” when they randomly stumble upon his videos, but he has the approval of his ents and close friends. After the relatively explicit spoof of Meri Maa went viral, he faced a lot of brickbats. Jamdar was in two minds about showing it to his mum. “I was scared. But I realised how cool my parents were after they saw the parody. My mum thought I was cute in it,” he laughs.

But the parodies go beyond mere entertainment. Each spoof makes a subtle, and sometimes a rather direct social comment. From talking about farmer suicides and corruption to dominance of star kids in Bollywood, Jamdar makes it a point to embed a message in each of his videos.

Star power

After distorting some of the most popular Bollywood songs of recent times, it was only natural to evoke a reaction from within the industry. But who would have thought that Shah Rukh Khan’s production house, Red Chillies Entertainments, would approach Shudh Desi Gaane’s channel to collaborate on a video? As unbelievable as it may sound now, this is exactly how Shah Rukh Khan ended up featuring in the parody version of Gerua before Dilwale’s (2015)release last year. The video shows Jamdar spread his arms in a bid to strike the definitive SRK pose, run in slow motion and perform the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai clap. At the end of it, Khan makes a special appearance, where he insults Jamdar for copying his steps.

There was pin-drop silence on the sets when he arrived, Jamdar recalls. “He hadn’t seen his lines or the lyrics before coming to the sets. We were scared, period. But he was extremely professional about the spoof, and played along. Perhaps, we will collaborate on something bigger again in the future,” he smiles.

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