When film director Nipun Dharmadhikari and actor Ameya Wagh sensed a vacuum in the Marathi web space, they thought of making Casting Couch. Launched in April last year, the YouTube Marathi web series by Sarang Sathaye didn’t take long to go viral. It has Dharmadhikari and Wagh, quite poised even while apprehensive, talking to celebrities and presenting them with unusual requests. But much to their misfortune, these celebrities, right from Radhika Apte to Reema Lagoo and from Mahesh Manjrekar to Anurag Kashyap, always leave the couch fuming.
After the success of the first season, Nipun and Ameya are back with Casting Couch Season 2 — this time with something new. Bayside Journal spoke to Nipun Dharmadhikari about the efforts taken to convince celebrities to go ahead and get offended, what good sports celebrities can also be, and a whole lot more.
Does being cool come naturally to you guys, or do you pretend to be so?
Honestly, it is a combination of both. When we are doing something that we would normally do, it comes out naturally. If we’re meeting, for instance, Anurag Kashyap or Sai Tamhankar, we talk with them as if we were talking to our friends. To do that, I need to imagine that they are friends I’ve known for a long time. And then it comes out very naturally.
What is the idea behind showing celebrities fuming towards the end?
It is the format of the show. It shows us as failures; as people trying out something that doesn’t fall in place no matter what. The general format is that we start off by inviting someone on the couch. For every person we invite, we have a specific motive. For instance, we would want Sai Tamhankar because of her sex appeal. So we’d want her to wear short clothes – probably a bikini – to help sell our film. We would invite Mahesh Manjrekar to be the producer of our films. We’d look at Reematai as the celebrity mother, whom if we cast, some producer would surely put in money. With Anurag Kashyap, again, we’d want him to produce our films.
In a way, showing celebrities fuming in the end is also the beauty of the format. If somebody responded in an affirmative to our request, then I think the show would end there, right? You know that the celebrity is going to come and leave after learning your intent. It’s just about reaching there. We gradually get to the point where somebody leaves the show.
How hard is it to convince celebrities to get offended?
We’ve always heard of celebrities getting offended in other shows. Here, what usually happens is that celebrities know the script beforehand. Plus, it is probably our good fortune that most of them are pretty cool about it.
I don’t think we really get into the scathing mode. We do pull their legs, but we don’t go too far with it. I think, since everyone comes from the same background, they are in a way used to criticism, gossips, rumours, and people talking about them. Here, they know it is all part of the show, and they take it very sportingly.
Will the concept and format of the show remain the same in Season 2, or should we expect some change?
I think we’ll be sticking to the general idea of the show. What we will do with the celebrities is the interesting part.
How much of the show is candid and how much of it is scripted?
Most of the questions that we ask them are in a way scripted. But their responses are not. If it’s an Anurag Kashyap interview, he responded the way he wants to.
Why make a web series in Marathi?
There are a few reasons why it is a Marathi web series. Firstly, it is our mother tongue, and so it comes very naturally to us. Secondly, when we were starting out, Marathi celebrities were more accessible. And then there was nothing going on in the Marathi web space. So the reasons were logistical, economical, and purely personal.
Celebrities are often thought of as thin-skinned. What is your sense of it?
They are very sporting. At least those who have come on the show have responded to the questions we had for them very openly and generously. They were actually trying very hard to control their laughter at the jokes on them. That says quite a lot about them. While speaking to Anurag Kashyap about Bombay Velvet, we cracked jokes on the film, and he was the one trying very hard not to laugh. To speak about your failures and controversies, and to laugh at them, does need a big heart.
Who’s the funniest celebrity you have spoken to so far?
Would you guys only be sticking to Bollywood celebrities for this season?
I don’t think so. We will have Marathi celebrities too, and I wish we could have those from Hollywood as well.
Is Ameya naturally creepy, or does he put on an act?
He enacts. (laughs)
Will any of these movie plans with these guests ever materialise?
I wish, but I don’t think so.
Have you ever been threatened with physical violence on the sets?
Yes. Ameya has threatened me on the sets, but none of the celebrities have. He just hates me yaar, when I say something against him. (laughs)