"At a time when the world is enveloped in gloom, French Biriyani could be of some help," says Danish Sait
Bengaluru's homegrown comedian, Danish Sait, has the entire country hooked onto his videos. What started during the first lockdown in April with the clip, titled Conversations With My Friends, has snowballed into a series of funny, slice-of-life videos. The actor-comedian tapped into the lockdown anxiety with his sense of humour and insightful observations. While his conversations continue, Danish is back on the silver screen with his new film, French Biriyani.
The actor-comedian plays the lead in this Kannada flick that released today on Amazon Prime Video. “It’s a fun film that you can watch with your family. You can laugh for a couple of hours, get over it, and move on with life. With the kind of situation, we are in right now and at a time when the world is enveloped in gloom, this film could be of some help. You will be transported to a world that has these mad, colourful and fun people,” enthuses the actor.
Danish plays Asgar, an auto driver from Shivajinagar. Those who have followed the comedian’s prank calls on the radio station Fever 104 FM will be familiar with another Asgar (voiced by Danish), a character who is portrayed as a mechanic and a telecaller. When asked how different the on-screen Asgar is from the radio character, Danish says both are quite unique. “The Asgar that you have heard on the radio has a very shrill voice. But the on-screen Asgar has a more nasal voice. Pannaga (Bharana, the director of the film) and I went through multiple renditions before we decided on what would be the best voice for this film. You wouldn’t want to hear a shrill voice for two hours,” reasons Danish. It’s these idiosyncrasies that makes the actor’s characters memorable.
Even the characters he portrays in his videos, such as Mr Ramamurthy, Jaya, Didi and Bevarsi Kudka have become familiar not just in Bengaluru but across the nation for their universal appeal. Whether they are playing antakshari, speaking to one another over the phone or walking in a park, Danish slips in national politics, pop culture references, and satirical allusions through their conversations. There’s always a subtle hint at what’s going wrong in the country. “I enjoy telling stories of real middle-class people and their problems. That’s where most of my characters stem from. So when I play them, I don’t think I have an elaborate and intelligent process, most of my acting is observational. I feel like I am a little child and I am making these characters in my head with their own little stories,” he offers.
Rooted in Bengaluru
But the genesis of these characters isn’t a recent phenomenon in Danish’s life. The artiste who is a true-blue Bengaluru boy and has grown up around town reveals he has been coming across such people since his childhood. Some of them were his neighbours, his mother’s friends and people he met through the course of his life.
“We used to live in Victoria Layout, then Domlur, Whitefield, Shantinag ar, and Richmond Town. Now I live close to Fraser Town. I have grown up around such people. We lived in rented homes and my biggest fear everyday was that we will have to shift to a different house within a year because the rent of the house we were living in would go up by about 10 percent, and that was more than we could afford. We often laughed it off. But now I realise that we tend to be unhappy with what we have and we don’t believe in the fact that this could lead to something bigger. I wish I was more mature 20 years ago, maybe I could have picked up a lot more. It’s my past that is the reason for my present and my present could be the reason for my future,” he says thoughtfully.
This introspective side of Danish isn’t something that his followers on social media get to see, but close friends and family know how different the 32-year-old is off-camera. The artiste has been quite vocal about mental health through his posts on Instagram and Twitter. Work keeps his mind sorted and this is one of the reasons the lockdown videos happened. “I was bored at home, I had nothing to do. I started posting the videos for my own sanity. I am the classic example for the saying, ‘An empty mind is the devil’s workshop.’ My mind goes into self-destructive mode and I start facing hurdles such as anxiety and depression. When I am busy it takes my mind away from such thoughts and I feel a lot more in my skin,” he confesses.
Despite the emotional tension that Danish has to deal with at times, he has created unforgettable characters, particularly Bevarsi Kuduka — the drunk husband of housemaid, Jaya, who always comes up with his absurd statements. The actor thinks ‘Kuduka’ is the most chilled out guy because even if the world is turning upside down, he has his own priorities to worry about.
However, the bigger problem for the rest of India is that they haven’t been able to decipher what Bevarsi Kuduka means. Danish says, “Let it be a secret. That’s our (Bengalureans) little secret. The day all this (the pandemic) is over, we’ll all meet and give each other a big group hug and laugh about it. This is why I love Bengaluru. Growing up, my biggest problem was the lack of stability and lack of family. When I came home from boarding school, one parent would be there, and another wouldn’t. It was all very inconsistent for me. But this city has given me shelter, it’s made me a member of the bigger family. It’s home and I am very grateful to it,” he signs off.
What are you most excited about right now?
Life. I am excited about my life. It makes me happy.
What are the three things you want to complete before the end of 2020?
I have picked up a couple of video games. I want to finish the Last of Us Part II. I want to finish shooting for the web series Humble Politician Nograj. There’s about a day's shoot remaining. And I want a one-night celebration when the vaccine is found. I am going to go around hugging everyone.
Which is your favourite part of Bengaluru?
Any part of the city that has a Corner House. Ice cream makes everyone happy.
Name a show you have been binge-watching?
Indian Matchmaking. It’s insane. When I look at some of the people on the show, I think either I am not from this planet or they are not from this planet.