With his new avatar as the goody-two-shoes Sharmaji in webseries Gharbar, Shakti Kapoor hopes to carve a new identity
When I was approached for this role, all I was told was that it was going to be on YouTube and other digital platforms. I have no clue about the digital platform or how a web series is different from a television serial. I am still treating it like a movie role," says veteran actor Shakti Kapoor when we meet him on the sets Gharbar, a new web series on SABGROUP'S Happii-Fi channel. He is dressed in a simple shirt, trousers and sandals, his oiled hair parted to one side — in short, like the world’s most seedha man. The show’s concept is a hilarious one — Sharmaji, who works with the Delhi Vidyut Board and has just retired, calls his friends over to check out his new home. They are impressed but when they realise he doesn’t have a bar, they laugh and sneer, "Sharmaji, you tried to be all high society, but your mentality is still lowly." The bar becomes a symbol of upward mobility. And that’s where Sharmaji journey with his bar begins.
Shakti Kapoor on the sets of Gharbar, a new web series. Pic/Shadab Khan
Here is a man who is known to the YouTube generation as Crime Master Gogo from Andaz Apna Apna (1994), the now cult movie. If it hadn’t been for that role, the youth may not have had an inkling of the seasoned actor, who began his career in 1975. But for Kapoor, it was the role that excited him, as he was itching to get back to his comic roots. "Actually, all the funny scenes are not about Sharmaji. The joke is on him in many ways. He is really the most straight man you will ever meet and this conundrum of now owning a bar is putting pressure on him."
The show, say the makers, is not about talking to the elite web watching audience, but to the mass Hindi speaking group. "It was a funny concept — about how a person’s standard rises because of the kind of alcohol he stocks in the bar. Much before social networking sites, it was the bar that became the core of social networking," says Manav Dhanda, group CEO, SABGROUP. "I don’t know who has written it," says Kapoor candidly, "but I do know that the lines are great. I am anyway a director’s actor. So, I just take suggestions and do as I am told."
The show also stars Neelu Kohli, Rishab Chadda, Rakesh Shrivastav and Vaishali Thakkar. The first episode goes on air in six weeks.
Each of the 10 episodes will be 10-minutes long.
"The charm of this medium is a very simple one. Anyone can go online and see it any which way they want — they can forward and rewind with ease. And they can, after a few days, watch episodes again whenever they want. It’s all very new for me," Kapoor laughs.
For the channel, choosing Kapoor for the lead role was a strategic one. One, he already has an audience online. "Secondly, he is a brilliant actor. Nobody can deny that. But, we also want to cast an actor who has not been seen in such an avatar before. What could we do as a channel that was cutting edge? So, we zeroed in on Kapoor," says Dhanda. Kapoor, on the other hand, just wants to set a new benchmark.
"Bahut ho gaya Crime Master Gogo. Ab let’s make the web talk about Sharmaji. Let’s create a new kind of cult."
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