Throughout your years in showbiz, what has been your biggest takeaway?
Honestly, it’s been a ride. It still is one. I don’t know if I can actually sum them up, or sum it up in one line. Throughout this journey, I think you keep learning bizarre lessons about yourself. And sometimes when you look back, you’d realise and wonder about how you made it too far despite all the unexpected odds and hurdles.
I also believe success is a very strange combination of a lot of hard work and talent, which also requires one to be at the right place at the right time. This industry teaches you to be a lot independent and lets you take a stand for yourself. Because one fine day you finally find yourself making a decision — that you’re here for the long run. And so the day to day rejections and dramas won’t really wear you out.
You started out at a time when people weren’t familiar with satirical content. How did you find your space?
I really think people need to put a lot of effort into finding a positive mind space for themselves because this field can be really bizarre.You don’t have to be the biggest star in the country to be really loved; you can be really loved in your own little world.
There will be times when your phone never rings and you go through lots of ups and downs, just hanging in. For me, I guess it was my consistency and believing in what I really loved doing, that allowed me to come this far.
I personally think a large percentage of the reason why I’ve done so many things–whether it’s hosting, or comedy gags, sketch comedy, acting and other stuff–is primarily because it keeps me entertained, and that somehow doing only one thing can wear me out. And to this end, what I’ve taken away from it is that, if I could learn one thing, it would be to detach from every aspect of your life a little bit and become a little bit of an observer. So you’re not always emotionally wiring yourself up. Frankly, I wasted a lot of time worrying about stuff that never happened to me. And that is a piece of advice I’d give myself now: it is what it is, don’t keep over analysing it.
Being a writer yourself, how do you choose your scripts?
I’m not getting 75 scripts a week that I’m choosing different genres… I am choosing out of the shows that I am getting offered. And out of them, I’ve started realising that overanalysing every script and weighing it is a really stupid thing.
I had read so many scripts, which were really small, blank and nothing great happened. And then when we went and shot them, they were super fun.They turned out really good, because so much happened on set. I choose the people I’m working with, because I’m going to spend 35-40 days with these people, I hope to at least be around people who are amiable, nice and kind.
Sometimes you can be part of an amazing project, but it could be a terrible experience. And so you won’t remember it with joy at all. I also hope and pray that the role is slightly interesting — there’s something for me to do, which I can explore and have fun with. I do check up on who else is part of it, the director, the production house, the crew, etc. And if it feels okay, and it doesn’t affect my personal aesthetic or jar with things that I would never want to be part of, then it’s a ‘yes’.
Do you feel free to create comic content?
It’s honestly sad that you are required to feel free when creating something original, but the constant criticism and watching keeps holding a part of you back. I’m not dramatically careful. I’m also not dramatically vocal. I think that I’m still in that space where I find it very difficult to click, document and present parts of my life constantly. I find that really tiring. I find it physically tiring to do so I’m still getting into it. But while I say that I would be lying if I’m not either told or thinking about it or even reminded by comedian friends.
We really got away with murder back then. The kind of stuff we did, I don’t even think we’d be allowed to go on air with it anymore. You suddenly realise, the internet is a very strange place because it’s constant feedback from strangers, well wishers, but mostly strangers. And then their mood changes, like you’re dealing with almost like a volatile mercurial child. Like they love you, then they have something nasty to say, then they are forgiving, and they can be quite aggressive about certain statements. And so you need to take that also with a pinch of salt.
Do you reject a lot of projects coming your way?
Not dramatically, but a lot of things automatically get rejected in my head, because it is not at all my sensibility. There’s a whole school of people in the media who are absolutely right when they say do everything as you are a working person. But again there are people who say — you must choose very carefully. So, I think that, for me, I say ‘no’ to things that are just not my sensibility. I’ve been around long enough to know I may hate or be miserable if I choose this particular project.
How are you reinventing yourself and maintaining your individuality?
I think I’m trying to find it all over again. I think you go through these weird phases where you forget everything and you’re just doing anything, then you take gaps and then you need some time for self introspection. Honestly, I’m thoroughly enjoying this phase now because I’m getting to act and learn or try to be a better performer, a better actor, very few people who I think are hosts get to perform and act. I am having a lot of fun. There are some amazing projects lined up. I am blessed and grateful.