Actors Shravan Reddy and Naveen Kasturia from the web show Thinkistan talk to Bhavi Gathani about their journey, digital platforms and more
It’s been a few years since both of you started your careers as actors and digital was not really huge at the time. With the web space witnessing immense growth, what are your thoughts on this platform?
Shravan Reddy (SR): The web space has opened many avenues for every artiste, whether actors, directors, writers or singers. Also, there is a lot of flexibility in terms of what stories you want to tell and how you want to tell them. Digital has given that freedom. Also, there are many scripts that are not approved for films but are finding approval in the web format. That’s a really good change that we are have seen in the last three to four years.
Naveen Kasturia (NK): I would like to believe that the digital medium acquired credibility only after TVF Pitchers. People did not take the web quite as seriously before that serial. Even short films started releasing after that because that’s when stories on the web started gaining traction.
I started with a feature film, Sulemani Keeda, my first acting stint. But Pitchers gave me recognition in the industry. Everyone’s outlook towards me changed after Pitchers. I wanted to be part of films and I started as an assistant director as I wanted to be a filmmaker but that never happened. After Pitchers, I felt this was something I really wanted to do as I had started enjoying what I was doing. Before that, I guess I was just trying to be an actor. The web is great for viewers too as they are being exposed to so many things, so many new concepts.
How did Thinkistan happen for both of you?
SR: I got a call from a casting person. Before that, I had been shortlisted for a film and I was told not to pick up any other project as they were seriously considering me. It was a long and tedious two to two-and-a-half months of clearing the audition rounds. I was excited about that role but, all of a sudden, the same casting director called and said he had recommended me for Thinkistan. That’s how I got on board. In fact, the day I gave my audition was my birthday. So I felt this was quite an exciting subject to be part of.
NK: The process was longer for me. I met the director, who narrated the basic idea of the story and my part to me, and I was very excited. They wanted me to give a screen test and within two days of the screen test, I met the director again and he really liked me. It was two weeks before they actually locked me. That was because Shravan’s character was not locked. I was super-excited about the script.
The show is set in the ’90s and it shows the glitz and glamour of that time. As actors, how did you adapt to that era?
SR: Honestly, there was nothing much to adapt to, and I believe the director had more to do with that part. For any actor, it is stress-free when your director is totally in control of his story and his characters. Also, for the ‘90s, there was not much to think about when it came to physical appearance. My character is a copywriter and although he is supposed to be a conventional charmer, there was no fashion with regard to physicality in the ’90s. There was no need for body building and the like. I play a Brahmin boy, so there were few lifestyle changes. Maybe, if it was set in the ‘60s or ‘70s, we would have had to give it more thought.
NK: In fact, I believe that people in any era are the same. Their mentality is the same. The only differences are in the script and their costumes. This is the first time I had attended workshops for any project. They conducted workshops for more than two weeks. I was never worried about the era. I liked the director, I liked his sensibilities, and I was completely dependent on him. My only concern was that I was playing a guy from Bhopal and he should look like someone from Bhopal. I tried to work on my accent. Otherwise, when you are on the set, you are largely dependent on the director.
In the show, despite the difference in your backgrounds, the chemistry between the two of you was amazing. Was it the same off-screen?
SR: Off-screen, there was a lot of bromance.
NK: Off-screen, it is actually much better.
SR: Yes, I agree.
NK: When I work with someone and share a great rapport with them in the show, I actually develop that kind of emotion for that person by the time the shoot ends. I was telling Shravan that after shooting with him for about 20 days, I started caring for him and feeling a certain love for him.
Since the web show has just released, what can the audience expect from it?
SR: Yes, it’s a basic slice-of-life story of two guys and the friendship, their highs and lows, and that’s it.
NK: People will definitely be entertained.