Television personality, actor and much-loved comedian Sunil Grover needs no introduction.
He came to prominence with Gutur Gu in 2010, India’s first silent comedy series, before going on to become a huge TV star with shows like Comedy Nights with Kapil and The Kapil Sharma Show, where he wowed audiences with funny characters such as Gutthi, Rinku Bhabhi, and Dr Mashoor Gulati.
After entertaining audiences on TV, the versatile performer moved onto acting in films and the streaming site space. His latest web series United Kacche is particularly special because it has a British connection and takes a humorous look at illegal immigration in the UK.
Eastern Eye recently spoke to the multi-faceted artist about the success of the ZEE5 show, characters that fascinate him, his absence from TV, and more.
Your latest show United Kacche on ZEE5 Global has received a good response from audiences. How are you feeling about that?
When your team works hard, gets recognised for that hard work, and garners a good response from critics and audiences, you feel happy. That’s exactly what I have been feeling, too. I am grateful to the almighty and audiences. This is the kind of topic that talks about how people from foreign countries are living illegally. It’s a light-hearted sitcom about their lives. It’s easy to watch. I am glad people are loving it.
How do you feel that people have reacted positively to your performance?
I am really lucky that way because people have been very accepting of all my characters. I am feeling great that people are loving my character, Tango. I enjoyed it a lot and it feels good to learn about people’s opinions, especially when they are positive. You put in the required effort to entertain people, and if that works out, you are always thankful.
What about the show attracted you the most?
This whole idea of a sitcom based in London, UK, came from ZEE5 Global. Here, UK stands for United Kacche. Making a light-hearted show in London was in itself the toughest thing to do. When you look at it in terms of the logistics, you will find that it is challenging. They took that initiative, and I simply loved the idea of people who are living there illegally under one roof. So, I felt that I really should take up this show.
Did you meet people who are actually living illegally in the UK to prepare for the role?
No, I didn’t meet anyone, and didn’t prepare much for the role. I am a Punjabi and have lived in Punjab. So, I am aware of many people dreaming of living in foreign countries. They are so desperate for it that they will live there illegally. It felt a bit weird to me but there are such people. I haven’t met them, but I can completely understand their state of mind. This show is trying to pass on a message in a humorous way.
Tell us about that…
That’s the intention of the show. So, you do not need a lot of characterisation but, you do need to have the right kind of understanding. The writers of the show have carved out a concept-driven show and it’s a collective effort and I just had to portray a character in it. We tried our level best to add humour to most of the scenes.
You have played unique characters in films and TV shows for a long time. How do you approach each new role?
I love acting. I love to play a character. I am more comfortable portraying a character that is completely opposite of what I am – that’s what I aspire for. I love to play such characters. When I get a project, the first and foremost thing that attracts me is the story; apart from that, it is about how we will be able to entertain the audience.
Tell us about the other elements you look for…
The story should be such that you should enjoy it while you do it. So, these are some of the main things that we look out for. I always ask a question to myself: when I wake up in the morning, will I enjoy going on the sets for shooting? If the answer is yes, I just go for it.
There are some talented actors who you are acting alongside on this show. How was your experience working with them?
I have been seeing Satish Kaushik for a long time and have always admired his work. In my childhood, I used to watch a lot of films and whenever I saw Satish Kaushik, our screen used to light up and as a kid it was thrilling. I loved working with someone so professional in nature. Even after having years of experience, when he was on the set, he still sat down and worked on his dialogues. When he performs a scene, you feel that an artiste is performing it. I enjoy watching that.
Do you learn from new actors?
Of course, it’s a journey. At times you even learn from people who aren’t actors. As an actor, everything you observe is a lesson for you, every human being is like an open book. He is a medium because he has a nature of his own. I love observing people, understanding them, and learning about them. I am always excited about my work because I get to work with a bunch of unique people.
Is it easy or difficult to do comedy?
Doing good work is anytime harder. If you really want to master what you do, with every step it starts to become more difficult than it was. Comedy is difficult and mastering it is an art. You learn to master it with experience; now there are platforms where you can do anything. If you are really talented, it’s not necessary for you to appear on TV or in a film. You have social media at your fingertips, and it feels good to see new talents cropping up every now and then.
You have been associated with ZEE5 Global in the past too. How is your relationship with them?
I am really thankful and grateful to ZEE5 Global. They first cast me in the show Sunflower, which garnered a positive response from the audience. They trusted me enough to cast me for the second time in their show United Kacche, which I enjoyed thoroughly.
Can we expect a second season of United Kacche?
I hope for it but it’s entirely their decision. They will decide. Meanwhile, Sunflower 2 is definitely in the works. We have been working on it for some time now. We are shooting it.
A lot of TV actors are moving to the streaming space, and some now see TV as regressive. What are your thoughts on this?
Not just TV actors, but many established and celebrated actors in films are also doing OTT now. You cannot compare the reach of TV. OTT is still a growing medium and, yes, it has grown by leaps and bounds. People are attracted to it because it is convenient. You can watch anything and everything from anywhere. It has its own comfort and is still growing. Television, on the other hand, is a huge medium and that is not going down anytime.
Why is that?
The number of shows might decrease or decline, but the medium is still strong and holding its ground. The majority of people are seeing it for their daily dose of entertainment. There are some shows on TV that have the highest ratings and a large section of India still watches it. So, it’s a great and huge medium.