‘Halki Phulki Si Hai Zindagi,
Bojh Toh Khwahishon Ka Hai!’
During Coalescence 2018, DoJMA got the opportunity to interview a man who lives by these words and makes sure that we feel the same after watching his videos. He is Amitabh Bachchan. He is Ravish Kumar. He is Yogi Adityanath. He is Anup Soni. He enacts a multitude of characters and yet he manages to carry a unique personality! He is none other than, Shivankit Singh Parihar, writer and actor at TVF (The Viral Fever) and TSP (The Screen Patti).
Q: In Hollywood, we use the term ‘Triple Threat’ for a person who can act, sing and dance. Michael Jackson is a prime example. In Bollywood, we have Farhan Akhtar handling multiple departments in a single film. And then, in the digital platform, we have you! You act, you write, and you own every show that you’re a part of. Whom do you associate with more: Shivankit, the actor or Shivankit, the writer?
Well, I think Shivankit, the writer is a more secure person! And definitely a more sorted person. Acting always comes to me as a challenge and I am not very fluent with the acting part of the videos. I have to put in extra efforts for it. So yes, Shivankit as a writer is better than Shivankit as an actor.
Q: When section 377 got scrapped, TSP uploaded a video about it the very next day. How does your team manage to release such unique and hilarious content in such a short time frame?
A “tentpole event” is an event that has happened recently and the team wishes to make a video about the situation just after the event. So every time there is a tentpole event, the whole team sits together and starts jamming to build a script. For this particular video, we finished writing the script at midnight and started shooting at, as early as, 6:00 AM. That’s how we go about a tentpole video. For other videos, there are mostly two writers working on the script.
Q: How did Rabish Ki Report start? Whose brainchild is it?
Well, Raja Rabish Kumar, the character, is the brainchild of Biswapati Sarkar, the writer of TVF Pitchers and many other TVF shows. While I was writing Barely Speaking With Arnub season 2, the rivalry of Arnab Goswami and Ravish Kumar was at its peak. There was a Hindi reporter who talked sense and then there was a journalist who was a bit loud and changed the way people looked at journalism! At that time, Ravish did something which brought about a revolution in journalism in India. He switched off the screen and started talking to the viewers without the camera recording him. He wanted to demonstrate the poor state of journalism in our country today. So our TV screens were pitch dark and you could just hear his voice. From this incident, we got an idea to introduce Raja Rabish Kumar at the beginning of the Arnub video. After the JNU incident, the real Ravish became more popular among the youth. So, we decided to come up with a show exclusively featuring Raja Rabish Kumar. The idea was to connect with the youth through satire. And I am glad it worked!
Q: Sir, you have played a wide range of characters in your career, so far. Everytime we see a new TSP video, we see you in a completely different avatar. Which character did you enjoy portraying the most, among the ones that you’ve already portrayed?
Well certainly, it has to be Ravish Kumar’s spoof, Rabish. And the reason is that Rabish comes with a voice. A strong opinion. Through this character, we can take up a lot of social issues and address them in a comical and witty manner. I had a lot of fun portraying characters like Amitabh Bachchan, Yogi Adityanath or Anup Soni from Savdhaan India. But my personal favourite has to be Ravish Kumar because of the voice, the opinion, the satire!
Q: Nowadays, a lot of people are discussing about freedom of speech and whether it should have any limitations or not. As a writer who writes satire on social, political and religious issues, where do you think is the line? Or is there any, at all?
Well, for someone who writes satire, there shouldn’t be any limitations. Writing and understanding satire is not a piece of cake. The best thing about satire is that trolls don’t understand it! The job of an artist is to question the authority in a sarcastic manner and not directly. There should be an element of humour in your questions. When you incorporate satire in the context, most people don’t get offended, because not many can glean the underlying meaning!
Q: Now this is a very ‘Koffee With Karan’ sort of a question! But if, in future, we get the golden opportunity of reading your autobiography, what would it be called, and why?
Well, you have asked this question way too early. Abhi toh maine life me kuch kiya hi nahi hai. Abhi bohot kuch karna baaki hai! But as of now, I would say ‘The Man Who Mimics’ or maybe just ‘The Mimic’.