When Indian web shows piqued the curiosity of the young generation, Amol Parashar was among the first to make his face a regular on the platform. The carefree DJ of TVF Tripling is now graduating into a Punjabi rapper with his television debut, Gabru, which marks Discovery Channel's foray into fictional entertainment.
The title evidently draws from Shahid Kapoor's character, the Punjabi rapper struggling with a drug problem, in Udta Punjab (2016). At first glance, the show's concept seems promising, given that it charts the unlikely growth of Punjabi artistes in Bollywood. The team had names like Yo Yo Honey Singh, Mika Singh and Badshah to turn to for inspiration, but Parashar says his character will be "distinctive", paving his own journey. Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about your upcoming show.
Gabru is a 40-epsiode series that charts the growth of Indian hip-hop over the past six to seven years. I play a Punjabi rapper flooded with Bollywood projects and money. The show traces the evolution of rapping in Bollywood and highlights the competition in the field.
The protagonist seems to be inspired by the likes of Yo Yo Honey Singh, Badshah and Raftaar. Is there a parallel that people can draw?
I don't think it is inspired by a particular artiste, but I believe it borrows from their lives. It's not a biopic. No one really knows what these artistes have endured, so we can't make a show on them. I am trying to create a distinctive identity for my character.
Given that the show is based on music, has an original soundtrack been composed for it?
The makers have composed three to four original songs. I heard a few of them before signing the project, and can safely say that they were one among the many reasons I decided to come aboard. The songs have been written, composed and rapped by Earl Edgar.
The early rap songs were criticised for being demeaning to women. Does the show highlight that as well?
I shouldn't reveal much, because it does form a part of the story. It highlights how, and why, the lyrics evolved.
People only rarely make a move to television after venturing into Bollywood. What prompted you to do so?
I believe that boundaries should be pushed. I admit that it did take some convincing to get me on board, but the content and music were definite draws. There was no reason to say no.
Do you think that the liberties offered by the digital space have given way to the creation of sub-standard content?
The digital medium gives people many ways to express themselves — stand-up comedy, sketches and shows. If you can relate to it, it is exciting. If not, you have the freedom to switch it off.
Tell us about your Bollywood outing that features you alongside Swara Bhaskar and Sumeet Vyas.
It follows a bunch of bachelors who are looking for accommodation in Mumbai. It puts the spotlight on their relationship, jobs and other concerns surrounding their daily life, which makes it relatable.
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