Shreyansh Pandey: Making every episode of Gullak is like going to therapy

With season 4 of the show releasing on Sony LIV on June 7, director Shreyansh Pandey and actors Jameel Khan, Vaibhav Raj Anand talk about creating comic scenes, improvising on sets and more
Shreyansh Pandey and the poster of Gullak 4
Shreyansh Pandey and the poster of Gullak 4

There is some mirth to revel in the mundane and focus on little things. It can be poetic and sublime. However, in Sony LIV’s Gullak, mundane finds a different meaning, as it focuses on the chaotic absurdities of daily life. There is an anxious mother who is on the verge of hysteria because her teenage kids can’t stop brawling over who gets possession of the TV remote. There is a father who is feared by the kids, but at the same time knows better than to argue with his wife. Connecting them through a stream of spicy gossip is a sarcastic lady in the neighbourhood, loved by none, hated by many. The show brings such characters to the forefront as it returns with the fourth season on June 7. For director Shreyansh Pandey, making the show is like reliving his childhood. “Most of the stories in Gullak are inspired by my own life. That way, making every episode of the show is like going to therapy for me,” he says. Shreyansh reveals that he speaks to his family about certain moments from the past in order to come up with stories. Moreover, he gets to open up with his creative team about everything during the brainstorming sessions. “After this, others start sharing their own stories as well which ultimately leads to an enriching experience.”

Gullak had its humble beginnings in 2018 when the development started with a handful of people. “The idea was to make a show about a family of four and how their daily struggles come in the way of their ambitions. We were initially planning it for the YouTube channel but the process of making it finally led us to Sony LIV,” says the director. The first season introduced us to the characters and their world where a  Gullak (Piggy Bank) narrates these stories of everyday life. Its triumph lies in revelling in smaller conflicts among the family and how all troubles are resolved in the end with an ice cream treat. It is shot mostly in a dilapidated house in Delhi, taking place during the course of a summer. Five years on, season 4 of the show brings some changes to the overall look and feel. “We will get to see winter for the first time,” says Shreyansh. “Due to this, the costumes have changed, and the setting is different.”

He is directing the show for the first time, serving as the creator for earlier seasons. Shreyansh believes that the crux of comedy lies in the situations in which characters are stuck. “It’s not just about giving them punchlines. Good comedy involves characters reacting to unusual circumstances,” he says. He also feels that it is impossible to do comedy without improvising on the set. “Improvising opens up many things that can never be written on paper,” he says as he mentions a scene in the trailer where the mother, played by Geetanjali Kulkarni and father, played by Jameel Khan, are talking to each other as they suddenly break into a dance. Shreyansh reveals that this was not written in the script and was inspired by a similar moment he saw in his own house. “Many times, I have delayed saying cut during a scene because of what the actors chose to do with it,” he says. However, he also believes that the confidence to improvise comes from a well-written script. “It is important to keep certain boundaries while improvising and that comes from the script.”

Jameel Khan finds comedy to be the most difficult genre to work in, although he also feels it is the most rewarding. Known for playing pivotal roles in films like Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) and Baby (2015), Jameel says that comedy is not an individual effort. “Impeccable comic timing happens through a rigorous collaboration among all of us,” he feels. Vaibhav Raj Anand, who plays the elder son Annu, agrees with Jameel. “All the conversations in Gullak run on a tempo and if someone falls flat, the entire scene is ruined. That’s why we all need to look after each other,” he says. Vaibhav doesn’t like to think that Gullak is a comedy show when he is performing. “All of us act without any intention to be funny but with a realization that this is what happens in reality. If you look at it that way, life is a comedy,” he concludes.

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