He was one of the first actors to work in the digital space and today, he is a ‘superstar’ of that medium. Naveen Kasturia is also doing films and is open to doing television as well. In this exclusive interview, he talks about his new show ‘Thinkistaan’, the growth of the digital medium, journey from being a banker to being an actor and more.
‘Thinkistaan’ is based in an advertising agency. Did you have to do some sort of a research about the world of advertising before you started shooting for the show?
I did not have to do a lot of research. I was very lucky as our director Paddy (N Padmakumar) has been an ad filmmaker and he was well aware of this world. I was totally dependent on him and his vision. I got to know a lot of things about the advertising industry through the script. We did several workshops. Then, Paddy educated us further about different aspects of advertising industry. The only thing I need to work on is my dialect. A coach used to visit me to train me with the dialect.
You play a Hindi copywriter and Shravan Reddy plays an English copywriter. The trailer suggests that the show talks about the language divide in our society.
Yes, we have tried to talk a bit about it in the show. The language complex does exist in our society. If you put a non-English speaker in a crowd where everybody is speaking in English, he will be looked down upon and will be considered inferior to the rest. Our show is set in the 90s and it used to happen then as well. Earlier, English was the primary language used in advertising but during the 90s, Hindi became a prominent language as people in the advertising world realised that Hindi has a huge reach.
Are there elements in the show which would make one reminisce about the 90s?
Yes, most of the ads we are talking about in the show are from the 90s. They are all popular ads and jingles and you will instantly connect to them when you come across the references in the show.
You have been a banker, worked with JP Morgan and got into the industry as an assistant director. How did acting happen?
I left my 9-5 job as I wanted to become a director. I started assisting directors and was living with actors at that point of time. I was barely making any money. By the time I finished my second film, main gareeb ho chukka thha (laughs). I started testing for ads hoping that I would get some work and would be able to make enough money to survive in Mumbai. I would go with my actors to audition for ads. I did a couple of ads. There was a friend of mine who was working on Love Sex Aur Dhokha as an assistant director. He was planning to make a film on writers. I was a writer, so he took me, along with a bunch of new actors and made a film called ‘Suleimani Keeda’. After that, I have never looked back as an actor.
Web has become so huge. You were one of the first people to working this space.
Yes, I can proudly say that this medium took birth because of people like me (laughs). Back then, we used to work on stringent budgets. There are a lot of people watching good content on the web and that is why it has become so big. Actually, I am not very fussy about the medium. I am just looking for good scripts and roles. When you have somebody like Akshay Kumar doing a web show, it shows it has become this huge space that will only grow bigger.
You just said you are open to working in different mediums. Would you be open to doing a television show too?
Why not? I would love to work in television if a good opportunity comes my way. ‘Game Of Thrones’ is also a TV show. We had such wonderful shows like ‘Flop Show’, ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh’, ‘Mahabharat’ back in the data. A lot of content on TV, today, is not up to the mark but there is always a chance of things changing for the better.
You are doing a couple of films too.
I actually started with films. ‘TVF Pitchers’ happened after that. I recently shot for a film called ‘Man To Man’ with Adah Sharma. It is a based on a very interesting subject. I did ‘Hope Aur Hum’ last year. There is another film called ‘Aap Ke Kamre Mein Koi Rehta Hai’.