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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Mathias

He’s having the last laugh

In this time of self-isolation, there’s been respite with the surplus of screen time at one’s disposal. For Netflixers, one Indian series seems to have captivated viewers with its freshness of plot.

Hasmukh is an Indian series that breathes new life in to our current situation of home bound-ness. Dark yet endearing in equal measure, it is made up of an unusual cast. The popular Indian stand- up comedian, Vir Das plays Hasmukh Sudia, an aspiring comic, who kills his disgruntled mentor, Gulati, to get a shot at the stage. What transpires next is his journey to fame from a small town in U.P. (Saharanpur) to Mumbai along with his manager and only friend, Jimmy – the maker.

We caught up with the series director Nikhil Gonsalves whose series reached number one in a remarkably short time. He explains, “Vir had thought of the concept about four years ago. Nikkhil Advani and he went on to discuss it and later decided to produce it together. At that point of time, I was trying to get my feature film made, which was stuck for several reasons and so Advani asked me to be a part of the writing team and that was it. We started writing in 2017 and back then studios found it too dark!”

Hasmukh soon saw the light. “In early 2018, Sameer Nair of Applause Entertainment decided to pick it up and produce the series. After that it was just marathon writing sessions for the whole month of July from 8 am to 10 pm everyday with the writers room comprising of Nikkhil Advani, Vir Das, Suparn Verma, Amogh Ranadive, Neeraj Pandey and myself. From discussing the arc of the entire series, to the story graph of each character and then chalking out the screenplay and doing drafts on the dialogue, we did everything. August 3rd 2018 we started shooting.”

Scheduling the shoot seemed to be the biggest stress point for the team. “Matching dates, continuity in looks from the previous shots, permissions for locations and re-briefing the cast, were some of the challenges to overcome,” says Gonsalves.

Discussing the obvious camaraderie between Ranvir Shorey and Vir Das, he says, “Well Ranvir and Vir are very collaborative actors and the three of us spoke, discussed and joked a lot off set and agreed to disagree and that’s what gets reflected onscreen.” Raza Murad, a veteran from Indian cinema also plays a formidable character of Jameel Bhai, a Bollywood gangster.

Reaching number one has been exhilarating, says Gonsalves. “I was gobsmacked! I never imagined we could beat Money Heist and one of my favourite shows - Fauda.” Was this purely because the series was released when it had a captivated audience? “It was to release on Easter weekend 10th April. We had to push it by a week due to the lockdown and a few problems of deliveries of the show happening in Europe.” Whatever the reason, fans from India to the UAE are delighted.

Has the show been inspired by others from the same genre? The director admits he hates borrowing inspiration but adds, “I do love the Coen brothers.”

Work on the second season has already begun. Fans can expect it to be out in 2021.

We ask the director what he would have asked Hasmukh if he met him in his younger days. The candid reply is, “Zara Muskuraiye na, Koi mar gaya kya?”

The film director, Nikhil Gonsalves

The cast and crew of Hasmukh on the sets. 

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