'Fit' for viewing

two-in-one

'Fit' for viewing

On a bored Wednesday afternoon, as I watched back-to-back episodes of the first season of Not Fit — the web series touted as India’s first mockumentary — it was hard not to be amused by Neerav Kapoor aka Nero. Sure, he’s full of himself and awfully annoying, but you forgive his flaws once you realise that he’s only a ‘struggler’ in this unjust world.

Amidst his delusions of grandeur, you get an often-hilarious peek into the life of an out-of-work actor in Mumbai. As the president of MAUSI (Models and Actors who are Unemployed, Society of their Individuals), Nero is the quintessential fool who makes you laugh at him rather than with him.

But Nero’s humour was considered too smart for Indian television. When Sudev Nair, the writer, director and lead actor of the series, approached TV channels last year with a pilot episode, he was categorically turned down by one and all. And that’s how Not Fit (the term used for actors not deemed worthy of a role) made it to YouTube last November. Ever since, there has been a spurt of activity in this online space with new content competing for the diminishing attention spans of discerning audiences.

As Sudev sees it, it’s only a matter of time before TV becomes redundant, except perhaps for the news and sports channels. “Everything else will move online. It’s already happening,” says the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) graduate, who is a huge fan of Woody Allen’s style of filmmaking and Buster Keeton’s ‘stone face’ humour.

Within a month of completing his course at FTII, Sudev bagged an international ad and an important role in the Madhuri Dixit-Juhi Chawla-starrer Gulaab Gang. What followed, though, was a “very frustrating” phase wherein the Mumbai-based actor was completely out of work. “I was surrounded by mediocrity and was afraid that I would become like them,” shares the engineer-turned-actor, who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor in 2015.

When life gave him lemons, Sudev decided to make a mockumentary (mock documentary). Not Fit was an artistic way to prove to the world that he was different. “I realised that I can write and even direct,” he says, matter-of-factly. So, with the help of friends and seniors from FTII, and inspiration from international shows like The Office and Life’s Too Short, Not Fit became a reality.

One would assume that Sudev was pleasantly surprised by the positive response to Not Fit. After all, it found a producer in Dice Media for YouTube and later TVF picked up the series for their app. At the recent MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, the web series was chosen among ‘the best of last year’. Recently, the show also found its way to the telly with NDTV Prime airing the series.

However, the man in question is far from happy. Except for the fact that he no longer has to worry about paying next month’s rent, he quips. He wants more viewers. More sponsors. More genuine laughs. “We shot the 10 episodes of season one in 15 days on a budget of Rs 15-18 lakh. We were testing the waters then. With season two, we’ll have lesser episodes, but for longer duration. The shooting starts in February. The production value has increased, the sets are bigger, lighting better,” informs the 31-year-old, as he is gets ready to pen down the screenplay.

And what can we expect from Nero in the coming season? Well, he’ll continue to be obnoxious and annoying, yet likeable in his own eccentric way with his ‘Freudian slips’ and ‘advanced acting for beginners’. “The show will be larger than life, with some singing and dancing too,” promises Sudev.

Whether Nero will be the one singing and dancing or will he make others sing and dance his tunes, only time will tell.  

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