Varun Sharma, a self-proclaimed fan of the digital content, is glad to have made his debut on OTT. The actor starred in a web series, Chutzpah, which talked about how the internet is deeply embedded in our world. “It is world wide web for everyone but for some people it is weird wide web,” says Sharma, adding, “I have always been a part of subjects and played characters that are relatable. It works for me- be it Chucha or Sexa. When I watch a film or series, I try to find a connect with my life. Digital medium is such an interesting medium as all people of all ages watch content online and there is something for everyone.”
Shooting for the series was a “difficult and different” experience for him as there were no costars on set and he had to talk to a monitor. Moreover, it was shot post the first lockdown, so a skeletal crew added to the experience. He explains, “Imagine talking and reacting virtually! It was interesting and it took a day to figure out how to shoot and get the hang of it. I am happy that I was part of a web show, especially at a time where it was tough yet comforting. Everyone was paranoid about shooting and being without a mask, so the whole experience was a learning. This series was interesting as a subject so I had no hesistation doing it. I am glad the reception for the show has been good. What I have been hearing is that people are loving the treatment of the show and feel it is ‘new’.”
A major part of our lives today is consumed and lived on the internet, especially the youngsters. Ask him how active is he online and he explains that he follows some rules. “I won’t lie, I am a regular user. But I have improved over time. I have a few mantras like to not check my phone right after waking up, in fact not for an hour and an hour before sleeping. This has helped me get better sleep. On holidays, I carry a regular phone, not a smart phone so I don’t browse,” the Fukrey (2013) actor reveals.
Has he experienced the dark side of the digital age? “No. I have seen people be affected by social media. That is so sad as social media gets toxic. People today don’t confide in people they meet like friends or family. If they have read or heard something, or got a random comment, it can affect people in a huge way, including their mental health and thought process. Validation is important for everyone but seeking validation on social media is not cool. I tell my friends, we should internet and social media, a part of our lives not our whole lives. We should talk and open up to people close to them and ones they confide in,” he says.
A number of shows and movies release on OTT every week, Sharma calls that a blessing as there is more entertainment for the audiences. “Quantity is wonderful. There are so many genres to be enjoyed. It is exactly like when four films release on one Friday, people watch what they like. I don’t think quality is being compromise as there is great quality content which is getting its due. If a show is not of your or my liking, there could an audience out there who enjoys it.”
The actor shot for filmmaker Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus and looking forward to its release. “We are all waiting for the cinemas to open up in full swing. The magic of cinema is awaited as nothing can match the feeling of community viewing. We are desperately for things to get back to normal, like everyone else and cinemas to come back to life. And watch movies like we used to, clap, laugh and shout together.”