Gullak is one of the more unusual shows streaming on the Indian OTT space currently. The show, for one, does not employ the usual tropes seen in Indian web series. Then, its slice-of-life tone differentiates it from the usual thriller-action genre populating Indian streaming platforms. Perhaps this freshness is what has made the unheralded show such a success. With the third season currently streaming on SonyLIV, we had the show’s cast–Jameel Khan, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vaibhav Raj Gupta–give Hindustan Times an insight into the recipe behind the show’s success. Also read: Gullak season 3 review: This slice-of-life series manages a rare feat, keeps getting better each season
Gullak is based on the lives of the Mishra family, a typical middle-class Indian family in a small north Indian town. The show has been a sleeper hit. It wasn’t expected to be this popular and successful given how simple and undramatic a show it is. Jameel Khan, who plays the Mishra family patriarch in the show, says it’s down to how relatable the stories are. He says, “I believe when something is written so beautifully and so much time is spent in creating it, it is served to us actors on a silver platter. Then, we have to just breathe life into it. And that is never difficult because we have seen these things around us. These are stories we have all lived and experienced. So, we reach into the hoard of emotions and experiences and portray them honestly. The beauty that exists in simplicity doesn’t exist elsewhere. When I read the script, it reminded me of the films by Basu Chatterjee, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, etc. That makes it click.”
Geetanjali Kulkarni, who plays Jameel’s on-screen wife Shanti Mishra on the show, echoes his sentiments and adds, “We are all from middle class. We have all seen this atmosphere. These stories are from our lives. It is relatable. And I think that five episode cap is very nice. People feel the want for more, which is good.”
The actors say that if not the stories specifically, the emotions behind them are something most middle-class Indians can relate to. Jameel Khan says, “For instance, the concept of stealing loose change from parents to buy small things is something most can identify. I remember when I was young, I did not get pocket money. My parents said whatever you want just ask for it. But I was a fan of films and I felt hesitant asking for money for movie tickets very often. So, my cousin and I would steal old newspapers and sell the raddi to get money for movie tickets. Many would have similar stories.”
An interesting aspect of the show is that even though it occasionally takes up social issues like corruption and unemployment, it treats them in a light-hearted, non-preachy manner. Talking about it, Geetanjali says, “These issues exist in everyone’s lives. We all go through most of these things so we know their significance. And the credit for making them simple goes to the writers. Making it preachy is very easy otherwise.”
Season three has received praise from the critics and fans already. And within days of its release, fans are already asking if there is hope for a fourth se. The cast say they are inundated with social media messages all year with fans asking about the next season’s release date. And it begins days after the show is released. Vaibhav Raj Gupta–Annu Mishra on Gullak–shares, “As soon as Gullak season 2 released, it became a big hit. Barely a week after the show began streaming, I started getting messages about Gullak season 3. Everyone would ask me when is the date for the next season. People have been waiting for it so impatiently that it feels so good.”
In fact, Vaibhav says some fans’ intensity goes a bit overboard. “I read all the messages but can’t reply to each and every one of them. There was this one person who had been messaging regularly asking about the next season. He started with a lovely tone. By the fourth day, bhai ne gaali deni shuru kar di (he started cussing). I wondered what flow is this. Then, seeing that intensity, I thought it merited a reply,” he tells us with a laugh.
And it’s not just the viewers who wait for it. The actors say they can’t wait to get back on set either. Jameel Khan tells us, “We look forward to it, returning to the Gullak family. We look forward to shooting it again every year.”
Gullak is created by Shreyansh Pandey for SonyLIV under the banner of The Viral Fever. It also stars Harsh Mayar and Sunita Rajwar, and is narrated by Shivankit Singh. The third season premiered on the streaming app on April 7.