Do names like Jeetu, Soumya, Vipul Goyal ring a bell? Or rather, how many bells do they ring? Have you been constantly bombarded with “Tu beer hai BC” jokes? Have you watched a stand up comedian trying to sell Kashmir to Pakistan recently? Well if not, you certainly have been living under a rock for the Team associated with those questions is the one revolutionizing the way Indians watch stories, good content, for over four years now. Dear readers, our pleasure to introduce: “The Viral Fever”.
We had this amazing team visit our campus for the #FeverNight organised by Team Backwaters for BACKWATERS2016. We at Public Relations Cell got to host our own “Chai pe Charcha”. We had Akanksha Thakur, (Soumya of Pitchers) and Vipul Goyal, TVF writer and stand-up comedian.
Excerpts, straight out of our writing pads, as raw as it gets:
PR Cell (PRC): Firstly, thank you for what was a great act yesterday!
Vipul Goyal: Thank for having us.
Akanksha Thakur: Your campus is beautiful.
Vipul: Isko IIM Kozhikode resort bolna chahiye.
PRC: We call it God’s own Kampus, anyways how did you find the audience yesterday?
Vipul: It was a great audience, jo aapke pass itni youth audience hai yahaan so itni energy jo rehti hai it rubs on the performer as well because live performance is a two way act.
PRC: So how much preparation goes into reading the crowd, tweaking the performance accordingly? Anything particular to a college in that sense.
Vipul: Haan kuch MBA jokes the, kuch IIM Ahemdabad vale jokes the, so voh thoda bahot hota hai, Like I have to been IIM Bangalore, Akanksha has been to IIM Calcutta so basically voh profiling ho jata hai. Yeh ek IIM ka crowd hai ya IIT ka crowd hai. Engineering colleges throughout India same hai… MBA colleges same hai. So I won’t use engineering jokes in MBA college or other way round.
PRC: What do you do when response is not that great, koi joke click nai kia?
Vipul: College show mein toh nai huya but haan jab aap naye jokes test karne jaate hai… usko open mic bolte hai toh vahaan par kafi open reaction hai. For comedy, even if you practise you need an audience.
PRC: So kabi laga ki Indian audience is probably not mature enough for your jokes, ki yeh toh nai chalega, people take easy offense these days?
Vipul: We at TVF draft our scripts very carefully. We don’t go into what’s outright controversial.
Akanksha: Haan we know that line, where to draw the line. We are aware of that limit and we try not to cross it.
PRC: And this is for you Akanksha, now you have had a shift of career in the sense that your parents wanted you to be a pilot, so how difficult was it to convince them?
Akanksha: It was difficult for me, I had to convince them that I wanted to do something different but after a point they understood that ok fine it’s better that you do what you really like and also my marks were terrible …so my father was like yeah ok you can do it… so that helped me. Anyways I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. It wasn’t that bad but I had to make efforts.
PRC: Abhi reaction kaisa hai, and with relatives as well?
Akanksha: Initially unko nai pata that what am I doing and why are people clicking pictures, everything that started to happen one and a half year back. He was not understanding because he is not much on Youtube. However after Pitchers, he started watching few videos and he really enjoyed tech conversations with dad. So now he is happy. He gets what we are trying to do. The entire alternate medium thing and all.
PRC: Nowadays we are seeing a lot of web series are coming, especially after Permanent roommates, don’t you think it would become repetitive soon?
Vipul: Dekho vohi cheez hai, 2012 mein we had sketches coming, all those 5 min videos..usme novelty factor tha. Now sketch is routine. Similarly in 2014 we had webseries coming and now people are like humme webseries do toh hum dekhenge. So yeh jo novelty hai this will definetly drop. Infact the novelty that we had for webseries in 2014 is no longer the same. Our reading is that it will continue for 3-4 years going forward, but audience filter kar legi what to watch. So its more like a fad, in that, fad every content generates views but over the time few select ones will be preferred. So janta ho jayega ki 100 webseries hai, mjhe yeh 5 dekhni hai.
Akanksha: Haan vahi hai naa, jiska uss time content acha hoga, that will work.
PRC: Do you feel the pressure of coming up with a sequel to successful series like Pitchers, Permanent Roommates?
Akanksha: Yeah, voh toh hamesha hi hota hai, that risk we have to take.
Vipul: There is nothing to think actually, we can’t be serious in that sense and bog ourselves ki aise karunga toh chalega nahi toh nai chalega. We have to go with our gut feeling.
PRC: Ok, this one is light now, Kabi aisa hua ki relatives ke function par log bolte hain: Arrey joke sunao, perform karke dikhao?
Akanksha: Yeah…totally (laughs).
Vipul: (laughs) Yeh hamesha hota hai mere sath but vahaan mere jokes nai chalte. Vahaan mere papa, buaji ki audience hoti hai unko mere jokes hi samajh nahi aate. Facebook jokes and yeh sab nahi pata unko. Mere chachaji ne abhi meri poem nai suni.
PRC: Toh kabhi hua ki, jaise Tayaji ne kaha, arrey joke sunn meri aur yeh video mein daal dena
Vipul: Hmm.. bilkul… aur voh bhi voh whatsapp vale joke. Mujhe yeh hota hai ki yeh jokes daalunga toh log mujhe chor bolenge. But haan ye sab hota hai, ye daal dena, wo bol dena.
PRC: So where do you guys draw your inspiration from?
Vipul: Yaar, I’ve been influenced mainly by two performers. Raju Srivastava and Seinfeld, college ke time se hi mere ko ye dono bahut sahi lagte the.
Akanksha: I can’t… I don’t know, I have too many people, I like certain things about certain people. There is no one particular person, just that I like particular things about particular people. And I like it that way.
Q: Do you see an Indian show going truly global in the near future?
Vipul: Definitely. Yaar Slumdog Millionaire was an Indian story na… toh Indian stories toh already global hain, it’s just that koi Indian story teller global leke jaata nahi hai, Slumdog was made by a foreigner.
PRC: Pitchers has actually raised the bar in this regard, hasn’t it, with an IMDB ranking this high, with people quoting the dialogues…
Vipul: Yaar wo to isliye ki hamari populations bahut jyada hai (laughs). But actually, humne abhi Pitchers ke English subtitles dale hain. And we’ve got quite a bit of American viewership now, and those guys are getting all the jokes, which is a very nice feeling ki that spirit of entrepreneurship and that aspirational value jo show depict karta hai, that is very universal.
PRC: Also, you have a lot of trailer reactions coming out, but recently there was a copyright issue where someone did a trailer reaction to, I think, Yashraj… So what do you think, kitna sahi hai ye, kafi censorship bhi aane lagi hai isme ab…
Vipul: Yaar, as long as it’s within the legal framework, it’s all good. Censorship… wo to ayegi hi yaar. Jo bhi koi new media hota hai, pehle woh naya hota hai, fir jo traditional media hai, wo isme paisa pump karke isko bhi traditional bana dete hain, control lane ke liye. Pehle radio tha, fir TV aaya toh usme censorship aa gayi, YouTube pe abhi nahi hai, but probably in the near future…
PRC: Kabhi hua ki you went to the sponsors and they tell you that produce the content this way or that way?
Vipul: Sponsors ke saath toh hamesha hota hai yaar. See, sponsors have got very specific values, and when they are paying you, they want those values depicted in a very specific manner. Which I think is right. Agar apko koi paisa de raha hai, aur pehle se bata raha hai ki unki conditions kya hain, to agar aap who puri nahi kar sakte, toh ya toh contract lo mat, aur le rahe ho toh pura karo.
PRC: So how many applications do you get every day from writers, actors…?
Vipul: Haan, we do… we started from 15 people, we’re 150 now, so we’re growing pretty fast.
PRC: Akanksha, you have been with TVF all this while, are you open to collaborating with other creators, AIB, for instance?
Akanksha: I don’t think anyone else is making the kind of content that TVF is making. As an actor, of course, I’m open to anything that’s good, just that I don’t see it right now.
PRC: Thoughts on AIB?
Vipul: Sahi hai yaar AIB, sahi log hain. Kai baar sketches aate hain, AIB ke sketches bahut sahi lagte hain. Main toh un logo ko pehle se jaanta hu, kyunki stand-up hai, to hum log saath me hi kar rahe the, 6 saal se, main bas TVF me tha aur Tanmay udhar. So, it’s more of a community feeling rather than competitive feeling. Kyunki hum sab ek team me hain yaar, hamara fight TV se hai. Kisi ki bhi screening hoti hai, party hoto hai, Tripling ki party hui, toh AIB wale sab idhar aate hain, hum log udhar jaate hain. In fact hamari abhi ek series aane wali hai stand-up comedians pe, toh usme Tanmay ne role kiya hai, saare AIB wale hain, Kenny hai, sab hain, toh kafi community feeling hai. Jo bahar log chahte hain ki kuchh jhagda ho toh maza aaye, aisa kuch hai nahi. Hum log same team me hain, hamari fight traditional media se hai. Ek dusre ka kaam dekhte hain, use seekhte hain.
PRC: Any parting thoughts, fir aana chahenge Kozhikode?
Vipul: Haan yaar bilkul, paise do hame, kahin bhi ayenge (laughs).
PRC: TVF five years down the line?
Vipul: Five years down the line, Akanksha ek film kar rahi hogi Dharma ke saath…
Akanksha: (laughs) Let’s see, hopefully
Vipul: Baki, there’s a movie planned, script ready hai uska, so banayenge pakka, agle do saal me.
Akanksha: Plus, the next six months, there are a lot of things…
Vipul: Kaafi cheese lined up hain, kafi shoot ho chuki hain, nayi webseries aane wali hain, lots in the pipeline.
PRC: We’re excited about that. Thank you so much!
For more on Backwaters2016, check out the FB page.
Interviewed by Amritansh, Anirudh and Parnabho | Public Relations Cell