'Firsts was all heart': Rohan Shah on bringing school time romance to the screen
EARLIER THIS YEAR, Dice Media released India’s first Instagram-based web-series, Firsts. With 24 episodes, each being one-minute long, the series presents a simple premise — a blooming school romance. With each episode, it captures the significant ‘firsts’ of a relationship — from the first eye contact to the first conversation to the first date and the first kiss. Helming this teen love story are actors Rohan Shah and Apoorva Arora, who do absolute justice in the tender portrayal of a school-time romance.
“The script was all heart. I was on board after reading the script of the first two episodes, and was excited to see how it will work out since it was the first Instagram show ever,” shares Rohan, who was on the same page as the director Nayana Shyam when it came to its making. “Since I have done over 300 ads, I knew exactly what Nayana meant when she said she doesn’t have time. The idea was to tell a story in one minute, so as actors, our emotions also had to come out perfectly within that specific time frame.” The Insta-series has garnered positive views with audiences appreciating the chemistry between Rohan and Apoorva. “Because Apoorva and I have worked together many times before, we share a very comfortable vibe, which shows on the screen,” quips Rohan.
But, isn’t it difficult to bring the innocence of adolescence to the screen, especially when you are past that age? “For me, the series was about reminiscing about my teenage years. I went back to being a 15-year-old boy in love. I was very happy about it, this reflected on the screen as well. There is a scene where Apoorva and I speak over the phone for hours, and it felt exactly how I used to feel when I spoke to my girlfriend when I was a teen. I was red, blushing, excited and dancing, even after the pack up,” recalls 25-year-old Rohan. The challenging part, however, was taken care of by the writer Pranav Tonsekar and the director Nayana. “It was an experimental project, and we had limitations for shooting. We had to limit each episode to only a minute, and Pranav and Nayana did a fine job of putting the whole thing together,” he adds.
In just months of its release, the series has registered 16 million views on Instagram alone and a cumulative viewership of 26 million (including YouTube and Facebook). While Rohan is not sure if the trend of making a web-series for Instagram or one-minute-long episodes will be a trend in the near future, he is happy that if it does they “will be the ‘first’ to do it”. For now, Rohan is immersed in his role as a producer in his company, Handmade Productions. “I like being off-screen too,” he signs off.
Other projects: Earlier this year, Rohan made his Bollywood debut with Vikram Bhatt’s psychological thriller, Hacked. In the film, he essayed the role of an obsessed lover, who is also a hacker — a part which is in stark contrast to his usual chocolate-boy image. “It was difficult, but very liberating. People did appreciate my work, I am happy with the response.”
Twitter: @heena khandlwal