Mukul Chadda plays the 'fun-jabi' version of Michael Scott in desi adaptation of The Office
How daunting is it to step into the shoes of one of the most well-received pop culture figures? If you ask Mukul Chadda, he probably can’t tell you, because he can't afford to be overwhelmed by his character’s history. In the Indian remake of the iconic comedy sitcom The Office, Chadda plays Jagdeep Chadda, the boss of a small paper company in Faridabad; he is essentially the ‘fun-jabi’ version of Michael Scott, a role earned that Steve Carell most of his renown.
The furore over the remake of the cult sitcom grew noticeably tamer as the first season was released and people found the script and the cast (which includes stellar names like Gopal Dutt, Mallika Dua, Gauahar Khan and Ranvir Shorey) very relatable. The Office just released its second season, and we caught up with Mukul to talk about all that’s happening:
What’s new with the second season of the Office?
I think the first season was kind of introductory, you start seeing glimpses of the personalities and interpersonal relationships. As for my character, there are so many different facets to it, from his insecurities to his interests. In the second season we are zooming in closer to some more people, and the relationships. In season one, there was a possible romance between Amit (Sayandeep Sengupta, who took the coveted mantle of the desi Jim Halpert) and Pammi (Samridhi Dewan, who plays the desi Pam); in season 2, there are four different romantic threads that are in various stages.
You hadn’t watched the show before you auditioned for your role...
I started watching it when I was auditioning for the show, but I stopped after that. I watched Season 2 of the US version, I saw the show to understand the humour, the style, the mockumentary format. But I didn’t want to get in the zone where you’re watching what somebody else has done and then replicate it, or try too hard to not do it.
How is Jagdeep Chadda different from Michael Scott or David Brent (from the UK version)?
It’s difficult for me to be objective about this, I never approached it like that. But I can say that there are definitely big differences between the characters. What I’ve heard from people who have watched all the versions is that my character is a little more loveable from the very beginning, unlike the US version. If David Brent had a lot of rough edges, and Michael Scott toned those down, I think Jagdeep Chadda tones the edges down further.
The Indian space hasn’t seen a lot of mockumentaries. Were you nervous?
Not at all, actually. It’s a different format, once you get used to it, you enjoy the aspect. I wasn’t nervous about it, because if a show is made well, it will work well.
Tell us about the kind of feedback you got on your role
You know, it’s remarkable, I’ve seen such a sea change in reactions. I’m overwhelmed by the responses. If you consider social media, before Season 1 came out, there was so much criticism, that’s when I realised the kind of cult status it had, everyone was like ‘don’t make this!’ (laughs) When the show released, the tide changed, people started really liking it and the fans grew.
One role that you want to play in the future
Walter White from Breaking Bad.