'I have a feeling that AI will go beyond humans at one point,' says Vijay Varma who stars in the sci-fi series OK Computer

Actor Vijay Varma, who rose to fame with Gully Boy, is back in an interesting avatar with Anand Gandhi’s OK Computer.
Actor Vijay Varma is back in an interesting avatar with Anand Gandhi’s OK Computer.
Actor Vijay Varma is back in an interesting avatar with Anand Gandhi’s OK Computer.

Actor Vijay Varma, who rose to fame with Gully Boy, is back in an interesting avatar with Anand Gandhi’s OK Computer. Built on the premise that a self-drive car has been hijacked and ordered to kill a human being, the six-part sci-fi comedy-drama sees him playing a cybercrime detective Saajan Kundu, a loner and machine-hater. We sat down with the actor for a chat around his role and his opinion on artificial intelligence (AI) and if it has the potential to destroy the world as it often appears in most series. Excerpts:

Q: What made you come on board for OK Computer?
It happened solely because Anand Gandhi chased me, caught me and then cornered me at Prithvi Theatre (Juhu, Mumbai) and convinced me that I am suitable to play the part of Saajan. Having read the script, I knew it was a far-fetched idea but he was convinced that he would pull it off and he did.

Q: Tell us more about the kind of world created in this series.
The series has a completely new voice where sci-fi mixes with comedy. The style of filmmaking is documentary-like and it is something that we hadn’t created before, it is a new world creation. For example, there is a robot named Ajeeb, made from the remains of a naval ship. Then there are robots designed for specific needs like there is a robot called Maushi whose job is to take care of our home and keeping it clean.

<em>A still from OK Computer featuring Vijay Varma</em>
A still from OK Computer featuring Vijay Varma

Q: What does a series like this which is set in a dystopian world demand from an actor?
You need to familiarise yourself with the world, the demographic and economical conditions and so on of every world that your film or show presents. And, when that world is not a reality of the present but may become a reality in future, it requires a lot more imagination. For example, my character Saajan suffers from major allergies because in the future there will be more climate change, like fluctuating monsoons, and increasing pollution so he is constantly sneezing and has a runny nose.

Q: Whenever something is being made with regards to AI, it often has an interpretation that it will go beyond humans. As an individual, where does your thought lie when it comes to AI vs World?
Right now we are at a place where the consciousness of the AI is not that evolved, we are at a stage where it is telling us where to eat, what to watch, where to shop and it is pretty much accurate in most places. For it to override, it would require an evolved consciousness and if it happens, then they have a mind of their own and they will keep changing according to what they want and I don’t see it not happening. I have a feeling that it will happen and that’s why we need more gatekeepers for technical advancements. 

Q: What is your take on AI in your personal life?
There are certain technologies or applications that are constantly listening to you. The more you are aware of it, the better is it. The concern for me right now is my privacy — my private information or data that can be used for anyone’s gain or against me. Besides this, I keep only fewer apps on my phone to prevent myself from overexposure, and I definitely don’t have a smart home. I want to get up and switch off my fan the way it is supposed to happen, I don’t want to do it via my phone. In fact, I don’t even have a virtual assistant. 

Q: Lastly, tell us more about your upcoming film with Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah, Darlings?
It is a continuation of my foray into comedy. It is a dark comedy that sees an interesting new relationship between husband and wife and mother and daughter. I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into it because there is a lot of space for humour and dramatic portrayals.

Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar VIP

Twitter/Instagram: @heenakhandlwal

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