Abish Mathew on the challenges of creating Son of Abish during the pandemic and why the show won't ever stop
EVEN IN THE middle of the pandemic, Abish Mathew is back with Season 7 of his talk show, Son of Abish, although, virtually. This new season continues to have all elements that have become synonymous with the show over the years — live audience, celebrity guests, comedians, activity segment and music. But, how did he manage to pull it off?
“When the lockdown happened, a lot of our deals broke and we didn’t know where the next set of money is coming from or the future of Son of Abish, I had hit rock bottom and that too within the first week. But, the good part of hitting the rock bottom is that you are left with only one way — building it up and that was very exciting,” admits Abish, who then started reaching out to each and every friend of his who has been a part of the industry and has worked with him in some way or another. “ I reached out to Wandering Lloyd, Dinkar Dwivedi (director of Son of Abish), the entire OML team among others, and when they agreed, the nervousness subsided and I was only excited to make this show more evolved than its previous seasons,” he adds.
The budget was low, taking them back to the initial days of the show but there were two things that were in their favour — firstly, Abish’s house could be turned into the set, and secondly, owing to the lockdown, they didn’t have to fly their guests in or arrange their accommodation. “Hospitality was the biggest expense and we would always keep our reach limited to Bombay to save cost. But now, I didn’t have to care about any of it and so I cold messaged people — everyone you can think of — and they were nice enough to share their manager’s contact. So, I am bringing artistes like Indian-American rapper Utkarsh, who was in the film Pitch Perfect and performed at Oscars, American stand-up comic Hari Kondabolu, who has the most unique voice, Kalki Koechlin, and rapper Raftaar, among others.”
While Abish and his team had an edge when it came to the guests, managing live audience virtually seemed like a challenge. But Abish, whose fascination with late-night show format started with watching Jay Leno having fun with his live audience, wouldn’t compromise on this aspect of his show.
“It was a battle with my team. They weren’t in favour of having a live audience and I needed them. So, we did a test episode for which we charged a small fee and a bunch of 20-30 people signed up and they had a gala time, which convinced the crew and me that it can work. So, we did another test episode and brought guests, who are my friends, over and everything went well and that gave us confidence that we could pull this off,” he adds.
So far, two episodes of the show have already premiered — the first one saw actress Shruti Haasan and comedian Rahul Subramanian and the second one had rappers Raftaar and Utkarsh Ambudkar. “I have never had so many people from the industry calling and appreciating the show. And, the audience isn’t just writing ‘good’ or ‘nice’ but they are writing paragraphs,” says an excited Abish, while adding that even if the show had tanked, he will still have another season. “Till the time I am alive, I am going to do this show again and again, even if no money comes and even if it is shot on a mobile phone. This show ain’t stopping,” he concludes.
Son of Abish premieres new episodes every Friday at 8 pm on YouTube.
— Heena Khandelwal