What’s the newest ticket to Bollywood? Why, it’s viral web series, of course
Actors such as Sumeet Vyas and Nidhi Singh gained fame after their web series, and now they are co-starring in Bollywood films with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Irrfan. The trend is gaining momentum.Updated: Feb 05, 2018 16:28 IST
Move over beauty pageants and TV serials. A successful web series is the newest way to enter Bollywood. The expansion of the digital space as a platform for great content has changed the entertainment game in India. It has paved the way for a new breed of talented stars, who’ve made an immediate connect with young viewers. Actors such as Sumeet Vyas, Nidhi Singh, Mithila Palkar, and Angira Dhar are stars in their own right, and the doors of Bollywood have opened for them.
Ken Ghosh, director of films such as Chance Pe Dance (2010), Fida (2004), and Ishq Vishk (2003), has entered the web space with two new series. He says that the online platform has become a great breeding ground of talent — once they make a name in web series, these actors are welcomed by filmmakers.
“As a director, you’re always looking for fresh, new talent. The web is a great ground for new talent to grow. I don’t think [actors from web series] are getting cast for their stardom; they’re getting films because of their talent. The web right now is a place to nurture talent, not to create stars,” says Ghosh.
‘As a director, you’re always looking for fresh, new talent. The web is a great ground for new talent to grow. I don’t think [actors from web series] are getting cast for their stardom; they’re getting films because of their talent’ — Ken Ghosh, filmmaker
Actor Sumeet Vyas started his career with television shows and also did bit roles in films such as Aarakshan (2011), English Vinglish (2012), and Aurangzeb (2013). The turning point in his career came in 2014 when he became an overnight sensation among the youth, thanks to his popular web series Permanent Roommates. Sumeet also wrote a web series, Tripling, in which he starred. He played the male lead in Ribbon (2017) alongside Kalki Koechlin. He will be soon seen in Veere Di Wedding opposite Kareena Kapoor Khan.
Sumeet says that there’s no specific “image” for web actors, which helps them bag a variety of roles. “When you’re a popular TV actor, there’s an image attached to you, unlike the web. Also, the actors who’re doing well on the Internet connect with the younger audience, the millennials, which is the primary market that films cater to. Taking web actors in films is an intelligent move by producers or financiers,” he says.
Actor Mithila Palkar has also done a couple of films, but she found fame only after doing three web series and several viral videos on social media. She will now star opposite Irrfan in Karwaan.
Nidhi Singh, Sumeet’s co-star from Permanent Roommates, is also set to make her Bollywood debut soon in Dil Junglee, which stars another web actor, Srishti Shrivastava. Nidhi is happy to see that actors who’ve proved their talent with web series are getting good opportunities in cinema.
“Being on the web makes you accessible. There’s a great recall value attached to an actor. I think that plays a huge role in casting actors like us in films. The response that we get for our web projects is also authentic. I’m happy that producers have got their eyes open. Everyone, at the end of the day, wants to collaborate with talent,” Nidhi remarks.
‘It’s always good for the film when an actor has some fan base already existing elsewhere, maybe on YouTube or from a web series’ — Mukesh Chhabra, casting director
Casting director Mukesh Chhabra , who selected Nidhi for the film, says, “The web is a great medium. In the case of Nidhi, I knew her even before she became an actor. It’s always good for the film when an actor has some fan base already existing elsewhere, maybe on YouTube or from a web series. Basically, when you have a little familiarity on social media, it always helps.”
Angira, who found fame after starring in the digital series Bang Baaja Baaraat, will be seen in a Ronnie Screwvala production, titled Love Per Square Foot.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says that it’s a positive move that filmmakers are putting their faith in actors from the web, as it adds freshness to the film and helps break casting stereotypes. “I think you pick an actor on the basis of whether they suit the role or not. If a web actor is good in front of the camera and perfect for the role, then why not? There’s so much talent that needs to be tapped. One should go for faces and names that break stereotypes,” he says.
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