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Thursday, June 04, 2020

Nikkhil Advani: Hasmukh is about morality versus ambition

Hasmukh show-runner Nikkhil Advani spoke about how the series is not about stand-up comedy, but actually germs from a deep and dark tragedy.

Written by Komal RJ Panchal | Mumbai | Published: May 2, 2020 3:14:28 pm
Netflix Hasmukh series Hasmukh is streaming on Netflix. (Photo: Nikkhil Advani/Instagram, Vir Das/Instagram)

In this interview with indianexpress.com, Hasmukh show-runner Nikkhil Advani spoke about how the series is not about stand-up comedy, but actually germs from a deep and dark tragedy. The filmmaker also opened up about how he craves for negative feedback and looks forward to the show’s next season.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

Performances in Hasmukh have been received positively, but people have said that the jokes were not good enough.

I think the jokes should be made funnier. We will make the jokes funnier in the next season. With the kind work I do, I only look at the bad things, I don’t look for the good. So, if somebody is saying that the jokes could be made funnier, we will make the jokes funnier. I only want to hear the negatives, I am not interested in people telling me positive things, because I am only interested in making the best. Someone who has spent so much on a Netflix subscription, people who pay for movie tickets, they deserve the best. So, my phone call went to the writers and I said we need to make the jokes funnier.

Talking about the premise of the show, there is this interplay between comedy and tragedy. That happens in the entertainment industry a lot, is this your way of telling the bigger story of your surroundings?

Hasmukh is about morality versus ambition. How far will you go to achieve the one dream you have had all your life? How does a simple boy from Saharanpur make it big? Hasmukh has to find a reason to murder, the reason to murder cannot only be that he wants to perform well after murdering someone. What is making him justify his act? So, what we did was, we showed an uncle who kept on abusing him, a mentor who never kept his promise, someone who is corrupt, so then Hasmukh starts thinking that these people don’t deserve to live, so I am doing a favour to humankind by killing them. It is about the human psyche, that you start convincing yourself that you are doing something for the greater good, that the victim will suffer a little but it will benefit the society, and I am doing that good. So then you feel you are a saviour, not a murderer.

There is a fine line between a conqueror and a murderer. So, that may be how Hasmukh convinces himself that it is about changing society. But it is only about his dream, and that is what keeps eating him up. So, yes it is about comedy versus tragedy. But what most people need to understand is that we always saw it as a dark comedy. Dark comedy’s germ is always tragedy.

Why do you think people then came expecting comedy?

That is because Vir (Das) is a comedian and people expected stand-up. If you see, Hasmukh’s first stand-up is about breaking promises, his second show is about child abuse, the third stand-up talks about corrupt politicians, the fourth one talks about lawyers and the fifth one talks about violence against women. It is about Hasmukh finding a reason for what he has just done, for the murders. It is not about the comedy.

Do you think it would be different if Vir Das did not play Hasmukh? Would it then be looked as a dark gritty show that it is supposed to be?

I think if we didn’t have Vir, then we wouldn’t have this concept. He came up with the concept of a comedian who is a murderer. The image of Vir is bigger than the character of Hasmukh. But I am very happy because whether you liked the comedy or not, one thing is consistent that you have liked Vir as an actor. So now, going forward, now that people have gotten to know what the show is about, if we can improve the writing and make it better, I think we will have a winner on our hands.

Hasmukh is streaming on Netflix.

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