Chinese Bhasad, a new web-comedy series from Viacom18’s streaming app Voot, features a Singapore-based NRI, his Chinese girlfriend, and a distressed, xenophobic Indian family. Directed by Saurabh Tiwari and written by Raahil Qaazi, this meet-the-parents set-up is inspired by Tiwari’s brother’s story (he fell in love with a Chinese girl) and promises a mix of slapstick comedy—like using kung-fu moves on chickens—and punchy dialogue. It stars the lively and garrulous Naveen Polishetty, an actor and occasional stand-up comedian, who plays the lead.
You might have spotted Naveen Polishetty in a whole bunch of All India Bakchod’s videos, including the viral Honest Bars & Restaurants and Honest Indian Weddings sketches. And if you’ve been on a bus journey in South India sometime in 2014, you might have even seen him play Mahesh Babu’s friend in the Telugu movie 1-Nenokkadine.
He’s an engineer who decided to be an actor. You won’t believe what happened next.
“At first, I’d quit my [software engineering] job in the UK without telling my parents. I’d tell them I was vacationing every time I came home, and then go to Bangalore for rehearsals instead of back to London. I even did a Telugu film with Mahesh Babu. Back then, I’d do anything to prove to my Dad that ditching the IITs for acting was totally worth it. But I was unprepared for the 18-hour workdays [in acting].”
He sacrificed bathroom breaks for his craft.
“Mumbai was a struggle when I initially moved here, over two years ago. Once I waited in a queue of over 250 people for an audition. We couldn’t go for lunch or even for pee-breaks, that meant you’d lose your place. Finally, when it got to my turn, I found out they were auditioning 10 people at the same time! Oh and it’s so difficult for actors to find a house in Mumbai. One landlord told me, ‘You actors rent flats and then commit suicide in them without telling anyone.’”
He laughs at misery and bleeds Bakchod.
“Amidst all this, I decided to try my hand at stand-up comedy and joke about things that made me sad—that’s the only way you can copyright your content as a comedian. I did pretty all right. I got a five-minute spot somewhere AIB was performing, we met, we fell in love, and now, I bleed Bakchod. Working with them is my favourite thing to do in Bombay!”
He’s in the business for all the right reasons.
“I have a Chinese girlfriend on the show, which means I get ‘made in China’ gifts like Dolce and Banana shades and an iPhone 8—just kidding. But most importantly, Chinese Bhasad makes us aware, through humour, of the ways in which we can be prejudiced toward other people, [especially] when there’s a clash of cultures. We’re making fun of the stereotypes, not the people themselves.”
Chinese Bhasad airs on Voot. Watch the trailer below, and the first episode here.