‘It took 14 years for people to know that I exist’: Sumeet Vyas on his struggles and why he chose web over TV
You know him as Mikesh from Permanent Roommates, and as Chandan in TVF’s Tripling. Facing the lens since he was 17, Sumeet Vyas is Indian web OG! Hear him spill the beans in an exclusive with YSWeekender.
When you think of the Indian web boom, one name that immediately comes to mind is that of Sumeet Vyas. Permanent Roommates, It’s Not That Simple, Official Chukyagiri, and the most recent TVF Tripling – the titles have been piling up on the shiny resume of this poster child of Indian web series’, who is currently enjoying his time in the sun with the arrival of the much-anticipated season 2 of Tripling.
As Chandan, the eldest sibling of the three, Vyas brings to life a character who is nowhere close to perfect. More so, because he is recently divorced and shares a less-than-flawless relationship with his siblings, Chanchal (Maanvi Gagroo) and Chitvan (Amol Parashar). That is until they reunite, under unforeseen circumstances, and embark on a journey that would almost change the state of their being.
Season 2 picks up on these changing dynamics, exploring yet another adventure of the Tripling.
It’s been almost three years since the TVF series first hit the web, stirring a new sense of frenzy that might as well be attributed to the success of a few other popular shows like Permanent Roommates and Official CEOgiri. Both had Vyas at the front and centre of all action. It’s not too far-flung then to say that the actor has been around the block. Starting with his first lead role in 2017’s critically acclaimed Ribbon, opposite Kalki Koechlin, to the multiple stints in the digital space and a couple of writing credits for (Tripling, Bang Baaja Baaraat), Vyas is Indian web OG!
In a conversation with YSWeekender, the multi-hyphenate talent breaks down the ABC of the digital streaming space, his preference for web shows over TV, the choice when it comes to scripts, season 2 of Tripling, and what’s more in store for the fan-favourite Mikesh and Tanya.
Edited excerpts from the interview.
YSWeekender: In the streaming space, was there a moment when you realised that you have made it?
Sumeet Vyas: Yes, I sensed it the first time when the first episode of Permanent Roommates was released. I remember it being the first web series ever made, the first episode of 14 minutes went on to receive 3 to 4 lakh views.
We had released it at 12am and by the time I woke up and reached my shoot, it had got almost 4 lakh views. It was at that moment that I realised that people are taking this seriously, and we were on the right track.
YSW: What do you consider your breakthrough performance? Is there any character you think you could have done better?
SV: Every character I do, I feel like I could have done it better. I would say playing Mikesh in Permanent Roommates is one of my better performances, since the character was very different from what I am as a person. So, when people get convinced that the role you play as an artist is your real personality, that feeling is the real achievement for any actor.
YSW: How did acting happen to you? Have you always been preparing for the big screen?
SV: The big screen wasn’t my ultimate aim. I started working at the age of 16 in a studio. At 17, I went to watch a play in which my father was acting (that was the first time I ever saw a play). I was really blown away seeing the actors perform, be it singing or dancing on the stage. That was the day, I decided I wanted to become an actor.
YSW: Have you been through a struggle period?
SV: I started acting at the age of 17, in the year 2000. I was always looking for TV shows, ads and was in a way struggling to be recognised and people only recognised me in 2014.
“So, it took a good 14 years for people to know that I exist.”
The takeaway is that we should not give up and always continue to enjoy the work we do and not be after the glory that comes with it. Glory and fame will come and go. Looking just for it might be disappointing most of the times, but if you are interested in doing what you do then you can constantly keep doing that and you discover new things along the way.
YSW: The web content space has exploded in India in the last few years. How do you think the online series’ are different from traditional TV?
SV: People are willing to experiment with web series. The audience and content makers are people who have had a certain amount of exposure to world cinema. Also, with easy access to technology today, the audience across markets is evolving and is more open to experimental content. With multiple factors coming together, today we are at a juncture where the web content space is rapidly growing.
YSW: As a writer and actor, do you prefer the web over film/TV?
SV: I would prefer the web. I don’t write for TV; I have only written for web and films. Web gives one the time to explore their characters, since it has got a certain number of episodes that gives a larger picture of the role they play. Films have their own joy, since they have a limited span and have time bound ideas. Preferring one over the other would be unfair.
“Both are equally enjoyable to write, but like a 20-20 series and a test match, both have their own charm and cannot be compared.”
YSW: Where is the future of Indian web shows and content headed?
SV: The success of web shows can be understood by the fact that today, the biggest directors, writers, and actors, want to be on the web. Web is such a medium where people who are producing web series are also willing to experiment with content. They are willing to put their money on experimental ideas. It takes a lot of money and pressure of numbers in such experiments, wherein there is no immediate weekend collection, based on which a judgement is made. Rather the reactions keep coming in for weeks, months and years and grow over time.
YSW: Tell us about your latest role in TVF Tripling? Where are the siblings headed in season 2?
SV: When Akarsh (Khurana, co-writer, Tripling) and I were writing the story, we were very particular that we wanted to create something that the audience would truly enjoy and has fun watching.
We have created special moments for this season, so even if a viewer hasn’t seen Season 1 and tuned directly into TVF Tripling season 2, they won’t feel disconnected with the characters or the show. The life of the characters has definitely progressed, but they are the same people at the core, so viewers will still meet an unpredictable and goofy Chitvan along with other characters.
The journey so far…
YSW: What has it been like, since your first film Ribbon to the latest season of Tripling?
SV: Ribbon, that came back in 2017, was my very first stint as a lead actor. The journey from that point until now has been nothing less than great.
“Right now, I am not in a position where I get to choose what I want to do. It's not that big a list, as I end up choosing one out of three to four scripts. The good thing is that despite having them, I can choose one, or not choose any, than earlier situations where I would do anything that came my way.”
It feels great that I have a connection with the audience. It takes years and generations to have this connection with the audience. And once you have it, you can start your journey, experiment with the kind of roles you do and the kind of stories you pick up. So, I'm very grateful.
YSW: What is your opinion on the portrayal of strong and independent women in Indian films and web series?
SV: I feel the audience has warmed up to the idea of independent, strong, and capable women, perhaps a little more capable than men, if there was a competition. What makes women special is their ability to do multiple things, such as taking care of the house, earning a living, doing great on the professional front. As far as multi-tasking is concerned, men are not generally great at it, but women are. So, a lot of credit goes to the audience that they are willing to watch such narratives through the stories on screen.
YSW: Do you feel the digital medium will take over TV in the coming years?
SV: I don't think it will take over. The shows on the OTT space/digital medium have found its own niche and audience now. The generation of people who love watching TV and the kind of entertainment it provides are poles apart from the kind of series made for the internet, which is a little more immersive and requires a commitment to the story. So, the investment of the audience on TV is far lesser as compared to the digital entertainment, which demands a lot of attention from the audience.
On the personal front…
YSW: How do you keep yourself fit?
SV: I play cricket, do a lot of outdoor activities like swimming and work out in the gym at least 2-3 times a week. So, on an average; I work out 5-6 days in a week through all these activities. I generally watch my diet and follow it strictly. I don’t eat carbs after 6 pm. I have my dinner around 6-7 PM. When everyone is eating samosas and sev puri, I eat a proper meal.
YSW: What would you advise aspiring actors who are looking for a break?
SV: To never give up. This is the only thing I will say. Each story is a success story, and each one has his or her own journey.
There's no real guru-mantra that anyone can give you. The bigger mantra in life is to not lose hope, to be committed to the craft, enjoy what you do and do it for the right reasons.
“Don't get tempted by the money aspect. Invest in the craft, and the by-products (like money) will follow.”