Actor Naveen Kasturia, one of the emerging stars, is being praised for his role as Abhilash in 'Aspirants'. From being an assistant director to becoming a popular face on OTT, Naveen has come a long way.
Nearly six years ago when Naveen featured in TVF 'Pitchers', little did he know that the show would be credited for bringing the web revolution in India. The show not only won the hearts of the audience but also gave Naveen recognition as an actor. Though he appeared in a film before, it was with 'Pitchers' that Naveen truly arrived on the Indian screen.
Cut to today, the actor has recently confirmed about a brand new season of 'Pitchers'. The web show is set to make a comeback after six years of its debut on YouTube.
Naveen opens up on 'Pitchers season 2'
Naveen, who is quite excited about 'Pitchers' season 2, told the Free Press Journal, "I was waiting for it for so long and I'm glad it is finally happening. I'm keeping my fingers crossed till the time it actually happens. I'm a bit nervous about it as it came six years ago and by the time the second season comes out, I think even if everything happens on time, the gap would be seven years. I hope it lessens but it also depends on the script... how and when do the makers crack it, then only we'll start shooting."
'Pitchers' also starred Arunabh Kumar, Jitendra Kumar and Abhay Mahajan. It revolves around four friends who quit their jobs to start their own company.
Naveen further says that he feels blessed to be associated with 'Pitchers'. "I hope people acknowledge that TVF and 'Pitchers' were one of the first few shows that gave credibility to the OTT medium. Uploading episodes of 40-45 minutes was a big challenge at that time and the makers were also not sure that it will receive this kind of appreciation. I feel great that, in a way, I was one of those who started this revolution. The credit actually goes to the makers and I am lucky enough to be a part of it," the actor stated.
When asked what were the thoughts he had in mind before the first episode of 'Pitchers' came out, Naveen said, "I was in London when they released the trailer and it was received well by the audience. Half my worries actually go if the trailers of my shows are received well. That happened with 'Pitchers' also and I believe every episode was better than the previous episode. People liked the first episode then they loved the third one extremely loved the fourth and the fifth one. Sometimes it happens that the audience likes the initial episodes of a show and then they might not like the next episodes. But this was not the case with 'Pitchers'."
"I used to be nervous before the release of each episode as I had no idea how they are being made. I was never sure about my performance. But then I felt great when people liked it. I was a different feeling altogether because I did a film 'Sulemaani Keeda' before that which people didn't watch. So getting all the love and appreciation for 'Pitchers' felt like a blessing," he mentioned.
Naveen's journey - from filmmaking to acting
Naveen says that making a career in acting was not a sudden decision. He was fascinated with films and acting ever since he was in school. Talking about how he got his first break, Naveen stated, "I used to always think that I would take a job in Bombay and see how things work in the city. However, I never disclosed it to anyone at that point. But once I started working in Gurgaon, I realised I wouldn't be happy if I just worked for money. I would have to do things that genuinely make me happy. That's when I seriously thought I would move to Bombay. But it wasn't easy and convincing parents was also tough."
"My parents had the idea that I like acting but they never thought that I would actually come to Bombay. It was 2008 and at that time the digital revolution had not happened. I was also interested in making films and my mom and dad used to always say 'Ye kaisa career hai'. I was very good academically and I also earned well. Once, I also went to London for some time for work. So my parents used to wonder why I was leaving a good job for filmmaking. But I had made a firm decision because if I am not enjoying something, I don't do it. My dad also insisted I take a job in Bombay," Naveen said.
'Took me two years to convince my parents'
"It took me two years to convince them actually. Eventually, they also gave in and felt that I wouldn't be happy. They were scared. But I'm glad good things happened.
Naveen further spoke in length about a phase that wasn't as successful.
"When I came to Mumbai, I wanted to become a filmmaker. I assisted for Vishesh Films. I did a commercial with Dibakar Banerjee as an actor, and then I somehow got the job to assist him. After assisting in two films, I wrote my own script. So the real struggle began when I completed my script and I was trying to make it in 2010. However, I couldn't do it because, honestly, I didn't know how to make a film. I realised at that point that to make a film you need to convince 200 other people which I was not good at," the actor said.
"Then acting happened to me and an altogether different struggle began. I worked on 'Sulemaani Keeda', which was 'Newton' and 'Sherni' director Amit Masurkar's first film. But it took the makers two years to release that film. We were hoping for a bigger release but couldn't manage. Even after that film, I went back to assist. I did a few commercials and wrote for TV shows for money. So before 'Pitchers' released, those few years were extremely difficult for me emotionally and financially because I was directionless," Naveen said.
However, Naveen believes that when he got his first job as an AD, he was at the right place and at the right time.
'Pitchers' changed a lot of things for me careerwise. I got more respect, recognition, and of course, money," he added.Naveen Kasturia
Naveen further averred that his journey has been super adventurous. Calling the industry a luck-driven world, he said, "Right things don't happen to a lot of people their entire life. I was really waiting for 'Pitchers 2' to happen before 'Aspirants'. If the second season of 'Pitchers' would have come in 2017-18, my career would have been completely different today. It was indeed a tough journey but I don't have any complaints because time laga but kuch toh hua. I feel blessed, privileged and extremely lucky."
The actor says that he still considers himself a struggling actor as he has no idea what work he will do next. "I don't know when and how work will come to me now. So that kind of struggle is definitely there but the only thing which has changed is that now more people know me. Now, even I should like the story and my part. Now, it works both ways and it's not as if I'm dying to do something and I would do anything and everything," he added.
On the success of 'Aspirants'
All the actors of 'Aspirants' have become a national rage after the release of the show with thousands of YouTube clips, memes and reels being made with the characters. The show has also won the hearts of the audience.
Asked if he expected that the show will receive this kind of appreciation, Naveen, who plays one of the leads, said, "We were expecting 'Aspirants' to be good. I wanted it to get more eyeballs initially but it has definitely surpassed everyone's expectations. I can't say much about the makers but on the sets, I remember my director Apoorva would occasionally say that the show might do well. I don't know if he was expecting this kind of response. I was for sure not."
"I am glad Aspirants happened to me and I hope I get more and better work. I would love to be a part of a lot of new stories and play interesting roles," he added.
On 'OTT vs theatre' debate
Naveen, who has done a considerable amount of work on OTT, also opened up about the never-ending OTT vs theatre debate.
When asked if he considers the digital platforms a threat to big screens, the actor said, "Right now, I believe coronavirus is a big threat to big screens. I wouldn't say OTT is a threat but it's definitely a wake-up call. It is challenging but at the same time, the charm of watching a movie in a theatre is different and nothing can beat that. But if the story is good, it can be enjoyed in any medium."