Piyush Deshmukh has a familiar face. Where have you seen him before? Deshmukh has been a prominent theatre artist in the city and has acted in plays like Nava Bakra, Lifeline, Artificial Intelligence,Takkewari, Gadkari and others. Last year, he even bagged a role in the film Dr Elevator, which went on to get selected in over 30 film festivals and was screened in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, New Orleans, Wellington and more. And now he has his hands full with a web series called Desi Dreams.
Hailing from a theatre background, Deshmukh did find it a little awkward to work in a movie at first, but got used to it pretty soon. “Coming from theatre, I am used to doing scenes in one go. I am really glad with Dr Elevator’s success. It has been officially selected in more than 35 festivals all across the world. As far as acting is concerned, it taught me how to adjust my performance for camera. As a person, it taught me how similar people are across the globe. People of different countries, thousands of miles apart laughed and enjoyed the same moments in the film,” says Deshmukh, who seems to have a penchant for comedy considering most of his work lies in the genre. “I do enjoy doing it a lot, but I’ll let others decide if I have a knack for it. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing a line or gesture or joke landing just as intended and audience bursting into laughter,” says Deshmukh.
Talking about his recent work in Desi Dreams, he says that it is a unique project that portrays a friendship between two people from countries that are always at loggerheads. “How many films, TV shows, and web series have we seen about a friendship between Indian and Pakistani guy as the primary theme? I haven’t seen any. I think if we succeed at making what we intend to, this will be historic,” he says, as he goes on to describe his role, “I play Sameer aka Sam Sodhi, a student of computer engineering working on his Master’s degree in Los Angeles. He is a representative of millions of Indians who emigrate to West in pursuit of their dreams and he is a lot more.”
The series, believes Deshmukh, is a great platform for lots of issues and it primarily deals with the problems of the new generation of south Asia, their struggles associated with fitting in the Western culture, their identity issues, relationships and their perspectives on the geo-political situation back home. Ask him why he thinks people should watch it, and he will respond with a sarcastic LOL. “Who doesn’t want to see history unfold? On a serious note, I think this series is one of its kind. It will have a good amount of entertainment associated with bachelorhood experiences of south Asian characters but it will show a friendship bond that will romanticise a potential healthy relationship between the two countries,” says Deshmukh.
Though the series hasn’t wrapped up shooting yet, Deshmukh shares that Ali, the Pakistani actor who plays the other lead, has become his best buddy now. The experience of shooting the series has been amazingly fulfilling artistically and personally for the actor. And keeping with the theme of the series, Deshmukh has ended up making friends with so many people from different countries while working on this project. “I also have friends from Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UK, Mexico and a bunch other. But you know what’s interesting, I had not thought of their nationality as much before you asked me this question. To me, they are just friends, plain and simple. That’s the beauty of friendship,” he says.
At a time when racism and nationalism are such burning issues across the world, will entertainment material like this work? “I wish more entertainment like this was the solution. These problems are much bigger. I do think that such entertainment, when successful, can help a little with shaping public sentiments. I hope we can achieve some of that with our series,” he ends.