Jeetendra Kumar: ‘Web actors and writers find greater acceptance’

Debarati Palit Singh
Saturday, 4 April 2020

Jeetendra Kumar, popularly known as Jeetu, talks about his new web series Panchayat and how it is important to have fun while creating content.

After the success of Hostel Daze, The Viral Fever (TFV) and Amazon Prime Video have collaborated for their second web series Panchayat. The eight-part web series stars Jitendra Kumar aka Jeetu, Neena Gupta, Raghubir Yadav and Biswapati Sarkar. The series has been directed by Deepak Kumar Mishra and created by Chandan Kumar.

Panchayat is about a guy who gets a job in a village panchayat. Once he goes there, he gets to see a different picture of village life and panchayat office.

Jeetu says that it’s a light-hearted show, where the viewer will get to see a problem in every episode and also how it gets resolved.

“Series like this were made during Doordarshan days but not anymore. Since digital television happened, we do not get to see such shows. Usually, there are shows on how a small-town person gets used to a big city. In our series, we show how an urban boy adjusts to rural life,” says the actor.

Panchayat will be available exclusively on Prime Video in 200 countries and territories worldwide. It will start streaming from today (April 3).

The series is Jeetu’s second project with Neena Gupta after Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan. But the actor says that they first shot Panchayat and then the movie.

“I have watched all her work, and she is a fabulous performer. She has always played strong characters, so I was intimated. But she is very chilled out and blunt. She speaks her mind and expects the other person to be honest. It’s always fun talking to her. By the time, we started shooting Shubh… we had created a great bond. She is an inspiring actor, and I think every newcomer should take a chance to work with her,” says Jeetu who plays the veteran actress’s son in Shubh… 

He adds that the actress puts in so much energy into every role she plays, which transfers to her co-stars.

Jeetu started his journey as content creator and actor with TVF seven years back. Since then, he has been associated with many of their productions, including Kota Factory and others.

Does Jeetu feel a sense of responsibility while working on each of their projects? He says that initially there used to be a lot of pressure while trying out new and fresh content. 

“If we faced backlash, we used to feel upset, but over time, we realised that the reaction doesn’t matter. With experience, we got over that. What matters is how much fun we are having while creating the content,” he says.

To a large extent, they know where they are going right and wrong. If they are not having fun while creating the content, then the audience will not have fun watching their series. 

“Having said that, the audience’s reaction does matter because we make content for them and we hope that everyone likes it,” he adds.

The reason content created by TVF works with the audience is because they are relatable.

“When I was studying at IIT, we used to do a lot of plays and other creative projects. That’s how I came to the entertainment industry. I believe every character that you play needs to be relatable, otherwise, there is no point making the content. It’s a challenge which you have to face. If that’s not happening, then you are not on the right path,” says the actor known for web series like Permanent Roommates, TVF Pitchers, Cheesecake and others.

He points out that each team member should be involved in the entire process of creating the content. “It doesn’t matter if they are a writer or an actor. It becomes difficult to get them all involved because everyone is busy with their own work, but we still try.” 

Though Jeetu made his big-screen debut with Gone Kesh, which released last year, his first commercial entertainer was Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan, which released early this year. The Ayushmann Khurrana and Gajraj Rao film got mixed reactions at the box office. But the actor says that he is happy with the outcome.

“The film has earned Rs 80 crores at the BO, which I think is good considering it’s a big production film (smiles). I have no complaints because for a newcomer, it’s a big number. I think because the trailer was so well received that I had expected the film to make much more business,” says Jeetu.

Youngsters have enjoyed the LGBT rom-com in theatres. “Many had taken their parents to the theatre. Their perception about the issue hasn’t changed, but at least they have watched it. It was important for the youth to understand the subject because they are the future,” he says.

Jeetu gave up his engineering career to get into the entertainment industry. He says life has changed a lot since he moved to Mumbai in 2013. “We did not know anyone in Mumbai, but we started creating content. Permanent Roommates happened in 2014. Finally, films happened for me in 2019,” he says, adding, “Now, people are more accepting towards web actors and writers. Back in 2015, people used to think, ‘They have made web shows. Will they able to act in front of the camera or handle a camera?’ But I was confident that once they see our work, they won’t have such doubts.”

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