If web series have a poster boy, it’s Sumeet Vyas.
In Tripling, directed by Rajesh Krishnan for The Viral Fever’s streaming platform TVF Play, Vyas leads the cast of three siblings who set out on a road trip to self-discovery.
Vyas has become a recognisable face on the web through his appearances in such popular series as Permanent Roommates (2014) and Bang Baaja Baaraat (2016) His professional association as a freelance writer with TVF has boosted his acting prospects.
The first episode establishes the dysfunctional characters and prominently features a branded car tie-up that is hard to miss. Vyas plays Chandan, the brother who has returned from America after a divorce. Chitvan (Amol Parashkar) is a deejay and Chanchal (Maanvi Gagroo) is their sister who is trapped in an unhappy marriage.
Vyas co-wrote the series along with Akarsh Khurana. “The journey of Tripling actually began six-seven months back when Arunabh Kumar, the founder of The Viral Fever digital entertainment channel, said that some car companies had approached him for a video,” said Vyas, who also appears in short films such as Blouse and Oye Teri. “Arunabh suggested doing a road trip web series instead. The initial idea was about friends, which had been done to death.”
The team at TVF thought hard about integrating the car and the road trip genre without taking the route of buddy films like Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011).
The car company that sponsored the road trip, Tata Motors’ Tiago, is the first character to appear in the series, gliding smoothly across the scenery and quickly disappearing in a dramatic robbery attempt within the first few minutes.
“One day I was driving my younger sister home when it struck me, why not a road trip with siblings?” Vyas said. “Siblings are not easy to get along with. “That’s how the story came about. Then my co-writer Akarsh Khurana and I got down to writing it.”
Vyas has come a long way from his early days in theatre with Nadira Zaheer Babbar to reach the point where he has become the dependable go-to guy for web series. “I was 16 or 17 when I began working for her theatre group called Ekjute,” Vyas said. “For a good one year, I had no work and had to lift trunks and remain backstage. No one cast me in any production.”
That is when his quest to become Mr Dependable began. “I kept thinking, ‘How do I make them depend on me?’”, said Vyas. “At one time they were preparing for a musical for which a dholak player was hired who used to charge a lot of money for practice sessions. So I started learning the dholak to be more useful to the troupe. That just struck a chord with me. I learnt to become indispensable.”
Soon, he was not only acting but also writing and directing plays apart from appearing in the television show Rehna Hai Teri Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein (2009). Vyas cast a wide net across mediums. His filmography includes a short but memorable role in Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish (2012), starring Sridevi. “When I was told that the crew would be shooting for 40 days in New York, I didn’t even want to read the script,” Vyas said. “The experience taught me that if I work hard, it would lead me to better things.”
Vyas went back to the drawing board when brief roles in other Hindi films (Aurangzeb, 2013, Sabki Bajegi Band, 2015) did not turn out the way he wanted. He decided to focus on the digital platform, where the demand for short films and web series offered him better roles. “I am able to generate curiosity, which is why I am getting more work,” Vyas said. “It has made me recognisable. People don’t get intimidated when they see me. It’s unlike when you meet actors from film and television. People look at me and feel I am just like them. It’s a good feeling.”
Vyas does not want to return to television unless he is offered something other than the “nice guy” roles, which bore him. It is not too far from what he is doing in most web series, which include the upcoming Official Chukyagiri. “I am suddenly charged up, driven by all the attention I have got in the last two years,” said the 33-year old actor.