Sumeet Vyas: The web gives you the liberty to be as real, close to life as possible
TVF completely changed the web series market in India with the launch of Pitchers and Permanent Roommates. Permanent Roommates, the story of an urban couple on the brink of marriage, went viral because of the fact that it was so relatable. The actors on the show, specially Mikesh, the lovable goofball became a fan favourite.
Sumeet Vyas, the actor who plays Mikesh on the show, has many feathers to add to his cap: he has also written and acted in another popular web series, Tripling. Tripling explores the equation between three siblings, Chandan, Chanchan and Chitvan (played by Sumeet Vyas, Maanvi Gagroo and Amol Parashar) who take a road trip together. Vyas is also starring opposite Kalki Koechlin in a film, Ribbon.
Sumeet spoke with Firstpost about writing, starring in Tripling, his Bollywood film, and more. Edited excerpts:
You have shifted to the digital medium from working on TV and films. How is the transition going?
It's going pretty well. I don’t think I would call it a transition, I’m not doing anything different from what I would be doing in films, I’m doing pretty much the same thing. I think that’s the beauty of it, that the level of professionalism that these people (at TVF) have created, you don’t feel like you are doing anything else than making a film.
I do it with the same dedication I would put in for a film, but I guess I do put a lot more effort into it simply because I am doing it with the intent of telling a good story and keeping the script as the first periphery rather than when you work on a film. There it is more about the location and actors. It’s really liberating to see the script get the first priority here. So, I have all these advantages of working on a web series as compared to a conventional film.
But do you think the digital medium like a web series limits your audience?
No I don’t think we are limiting our audience. At least for TVF, for which I am shooting Tripling, I have been travelling around a lot to shoot this script, from Rajasthan to Punjab and all these other places; and I have noticed that people do watch these shows.
What the planning team of TVF has cracked is that these shows can cater to a lot of other people than your typical SoBo (South Bombay) audience or your city audience. It's kind of universal and relatable to all sorts of people.
The other advantage is that this new show Tripling, is shot like a film, in terms of budget and locations and all. We shot the whole series in one go in 40 days. So basically we are bringing the whole film experience to your iPad or laptop or your cell phone.
So that is the advantage that the audience has. They no longer have to get out of the comfort of their homes and buy unreasonably priced popcorn for a ‘movie experience’.
But do you feel these shows only target young people?
Well the bigger target audience is the young people and the working class. But these days everyone has access to internet so let's hope more people are seeing this. When I say young people I mean people from 15 to 20 to 35 who have access to the internet.
You have written the script for Tripling. What was the inspiration behind the show?
The inspiration was that we wanted to do something like that (take a road trip) in life and so we thought why not write about it. I have a sibling and we still haven’t managed to do a road trip.
So I always wanted to create a show about road trips. But everyone is creating shows about road trips with friends. The plot has 3-4 friends or two guy friends and two girl friends and they go to abandoned locations and everybody is getting killed or they do drugs.
I was like, how about we can have the same road trip series but with siblings, because the connect is so much more.
Do you think web series are more relatable as compared to regular TV shows?
Web series are more relatable because that is the kind of language we use that is the conversations that we have, we don’t have the platonic conversations we see on television. I do feel with the kind of series we see,[these] are not the conversations we have or the situations we face. The web kind of gives you the liberty to be as real and as close to life as possible.
How was it writing the script for Tripling and also acting on it?
This is actually the first time I have acted for something I have written, and I have to say, it was tough. Before I used to just write things and would hand them over to the creative team, like Bang Baaja Baaraat. So this was the first time I was acting in something or holding some sort of creative position on a show I had written for.
It was very difficult for me in a way, because, like every other writer, I had written something and I was seeing my vision come to life in a very different way.
What is the future of Tripling?
I had written the first season with Akarsh Khurana and we are hoping to be shooting the next season in Greece or Italy.
Can you tell us more about your next film Ribbon which you are shooting with Kalki Koechlin?
It is going to be directed by this documentary film maker called Rakhee Sandilya and this is going to be her first feature film. It's essentially about this urban couple and it covers their life from the first year to the fifth year. It's about how the pressures of the city take a toll on their relationship and how it alters every six months. So it's essentially more of a mood film, not your conventional potboiler.
Also,since Rakhee is a documentary film maker, she wants to shoot it very realistically. So it is a very, very interesting process.
How do you manage to do so many things at one time, like writing and directing?
It's hard to do so many things at one time but it's fun. Every other thing that I do is like a break from the thing that I am doing. That's how I deal with the pressure from being bogged down by these things. And that's also how I keep my perspective on things. If you are involved in only one thing at a time I think you lose perspective. This way you have a perspective on things.