‘When we shot for Gullak season one, we didn’t even know if it will find a platform’: Geetanjali Kulkarni
The slice of life drama, Gullak, streaming on SonyLIV, is adored for its simplicity and relatability. The Mishra ‘parivaar’ — mummy Shanti (Geetanjali Kulkarni), papa Santosh (Jameel Khan), ‘bada beta’ Annu (Vaibhav Raj Gupta) and ‘chota beta’ Aman (Harsh Mayar)hold a mirror to the life of every middle-class household. But as simple as the show looks on the screen, creating it is not that simple. Actor Gitanjali Kulkarni asserts, “Simple things are not simple.” Creating Gullak is a strenuous task as she says, “We rehearse a lot before going on the floor. It involves the hard work of a lot of people including the creators for almost over a year.”
Vaibhav Raj Gupta aka Anu Mishra adds, “The relationship that you see on-screen between the Mishras is built over workshops. All of us meet and discuss the script with the director, writer and the entire crew. There have been times when we had discussions over a scene for more than one and a half hours.” Jameel Khan calls the making of Gullak a “democratic process” where creators are open to incorporating suggestions and ideas of the actors as well.
Based in a small North Indian town, Gullak is now in its third season, which starts streaming on April 7. After the second season, this heart-warming story of the Mishras has found its footing among the audience of the OTT platforms and has even won awards. But when the actors started working on the show for the first season in 2018, they didn’t even know if it will ever find a platform to reach the audience.
“When we were shooting for it, we didn’t know if it will find a platform or not,” Geetanjali tells us. She adds, “Budget was limited. We all used to stay in the same house in which we used to shoot. If Sunita (Rajwar) and I had to change clothes, we used to send the boys out. We used to get food in tiffin as there was no table to lay the food on. So, at the time it had an indie show like spirit. I think it is that investment of the first season which is bearing fruits until now.”
Gullak, which takes its viewers close to home, was writer Nikhil Vijay’s idea, who wrote the first season. Its journey started at actor Vaibhav’s house. His younger brother Amrit Raj Gupta directed the first season. And, the actors shot for it in just 14-15 days, making them feel as if they are doing a theatre play.
The show, which gives a lived-in feel, made actor Harsh Mayar’s mother think that her son is telling his home’s secret to the writers of the show. “There are some instances in the show where my mother feels, ‘tu ghar ki baatein jaa kar writers ko bata raha hai’. So I had to assure her that what happens in our family, happens in many Indian families. I tell everyone, 90 per cent of India is Gullak, rest is urban,” Harsh shares.
As Harsh narrates this anecdote, Jameel Khan gets a bit emotional and says, “This is why we love doing Gullak. It is so relatable. You have seen so much in life. There are many experiences lived and cherished. So, bringing those experiences to the screen is fun. I relate so much to the show that sometimes I wonder if Jameel Khan is Santosh Mishra or is Santosh Mishra Jameel Khan.”
Geetanjali too feels her character of Shanti Mishra has evolved her as a person and her respect for homemakers has grown manifold. For her, Shanti Mishra “represents all homemakers around the world.”
Besides the amazing cast, one thing that plays a major role in Gullak is the house of the Mishras, which witnesses many “naye kisse” unfold. The house in which the show is shot is not a set, rather it’s a house of an elderly man in Bhopal, which is transformed into Santosh Mishra’s house every time the team has to shoot for it.
Vaibhav shares, “In reality, that house doesn’t look like how it looks in the show. After the end of season two, I and Harsh went to that house and we saw that house being dismantled into its original form, it was a very emotional moment for us. Vo ghar Gullak ki jaan hai (that house is the soul of Gullak).” Harsh adds that he gets many messages enquiring about the whereabouts of the house, “There’s so much curiosity around that house.”