Actor Ayush Mehra has been a household name for the millions of YouTube and Instagram videos that he keeps doing. Now, he finally has made his big Bollywood debut with ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’ on Netflix. In a candid chat with Outlook, Mehra speaks up about how he managed to crack the audition while sitting in his room while his mom held the camera. He also reveals how it was working with film industry veterans like Rajat Kapoor, Shaad Ali, Dia Mirza and many others on this show. Excerpts from the candid chat:
Is ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’ is the big break which you’ve been waiting for so many years?
Yes, it is my debut project on an OTT platform and I am really happy because I am getting a lot of love and appreciation for it. So, yes definitely it is a big break for me.
How did ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’ land on your plate?
I have been acting for the last five years. I have been doing a lot of ads, a lot of digital sketches. I have been doing YouTube shows. A lot of enquiries usually come for you and ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’ was also one of them which came through Nandini Srikant ma’am and Aditya was assisting ma’am and he was the one who called me up and told me about the audition. After that I got the scene, he gave me the reference of the original show as well to watch it but obviously, I didn’t want to watch it because I thought that I will end up trying to ape that or try and to do something similar to it. So, I did not watch it and I auditioned and sent it. After 6-7 days I got a callback and during those 6-7 days I had seen the show and I became a huge fan of the show. I was just hoping that I get the chance to do the show. So, that is how I got the show and they told me that the next meeting will be with Shaad (Ali) sir and I was curious if he was going to test me but then they told me that he just likes me and just wants to meet me. I was very happy about the fact that he loved me in the first go because I did not realise that I would just have to give only one audition for it. I remember it was during the lockdown and we couldn’t go physically for the auditions. Aditya was on zoom call, my mom was holding the camera and I was acting. He was cueing me. So, it is quite an interesting story because I got it from my home. I auditioned for it from my room and got the job.
How the experience of working with such senior people on the cast and crew?
Shaad Ali sir has directed the show. He is one of the biggest directors in the film industry. He has given us the industry some of the biggest hit movies like ‘Saathiya’ and ‘Bunty Aur Babli’. When you are acting with Rajat Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Farah Khan - the people who have shaped this industry - it is always great.
This was released on Netflix. Do you feel this platform gives you more exposure than what you usually get from your YouTube shows and Instagram short videos?
Working on a bigger platform always gives you the exposure which you might or might not get when you are working on YouTube and Instagram, but when you are working on a project like ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’ the scale differs. The people whom you are working with, matter. That is what the game is all about. The good part about this is that I have been blessed with such good people everywhere. Even when I am working on Instagram, YouTube, or on sketches and even when I was working on ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’ for the OTT platform, people were so sweet to me. Everywhere I have gone, I have received warmth and love and that is what makes it all the same for me because if the people are (the same) it doesn’t matter where or in which platform you are working, be it big or small, you are just going there and having fun and that is all that matters.
How is the medium OTT different from the millions of shows your keep shooting for Instagram or YouTube channels of Filter Copy, Zoom Studios, TVF, etc?
I feel every medium is different, every platform is different. The fun of shooting videos on Instagram; you can’t compare that joy with anything else. So, even if you are shooting a TVF sketch or a Filter Copy sketch, it is fun. It is light-hearted. It is a one-day shoot. It has a small budget shoot. Even the YouTube shows; the seriousness of a YouTube show when you are playing a character, it is always there. The hard work the effort is always the same, but when you are shooting for an OTT platform, for instance ‘Call My Agent Bollywood’, everything is a little bigger. The stakes are higher.