Gullak is one of those shows where you won’t hear the deafening “boom” or “bang” of gunshots like other web shows based in north India. There are no complex plot twists and high-octane action. Gullak, however, feels like a chilled glass of aam panna on a summer afternoon. It is one of the most loved “feel-good” family shows on OTT today.

Actor Geetanjali Kulkarni, who plays the lead role of Shanti Mishra in Gullak, opens up on why the show is one of the most relevant pieces of content today. Geetanjali, who prefers to attach herself mainly to experimental theatre, says she chose to do Gullak because it has an “independent cinema” feel to it.

On playing Shanti Mishra

Geetanjali Kulkarnisays Gullak’s Shanti Mishra thrusts focus on the homemaker and makes her the star of the show.

She said, “I like playing women who are from different worlds. I find women strong because they have a lot of challenges at home, at their workplace, in their relationships and how they navigate through everything to get things done. Playing Shanti Mishra is amazing because we also go through so much in life, and in Gullak, I got a chance to play that. It feels nice to play a character like Shanti because mujhe vent out karne ko milta hai (I get to vent out).”

Geetanjali says Gullak’s Shanti thrusts focus on the homemaker and makes her the star of the show, yet has a family appeal, where the whole family can sit together and watch it.

“I think Shanti is relatable because we have seen our mothers and aunts and so many homemakers who have led these kinds of lives. They take charge of whatever situation they are in and create a support system in the house. The way a country needs a government, a family needs a mother. When you are sick, you know you have someone to take care of you at home. It’s a huge deal. We have seen so many Shanti Mishras in our lives that I totally respect these women and identify with them. When I became an adult and started my own household, I observed the way women contribute at home, and it had a great impact on me. So, I related to Shanti deeply. Although I don’t have children, I can relate to those situations Shanti goes through as you go through these things in life,” the actor added.

A family-watching experience

Festive offer

Despite violent shows and thrillers dominating the OTT space, shows like Gullak and Panchayat are ruling the charts. Both the shows are created by The Viral Fever (TVF). Geetanjali says the family-watching experience is the USP of these shows.

She said, “Gullak created this space for families on OTT. Before that, people could not watch most of the shows on OTT as a family. That’s the first feedback we got when Gullak was first released: that people could watch it with their families. It used to happen when I was a kid. We used to watch Doordarshan shows together. We used to watch Buniyaad, Hum Log, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Nukkad. We used to sit together and watch. Later, TV also went another way and only women started watching TV. Some shows husband and wife watch, but the kids don’t relate to it. Everybody started watching different kinds of shows. Then OTT went on to another level.”

While Gullak banks heavily on nostalgia, it also showcases the everyday issues of the quintessential Indian middle class, and hence there is a strong sense of reliability and longing in the audience. On this, Geetanjali said, “Gullak is not only playing on nostalgia. I think it is a very relevant show. I remember, in the first season, in the first episode, the first line of Shanti Mishra is ‘Yeh ladke itne bade ho gaye, lekin apni chaddiya nahi dhote.’ I agreed to do the show because of that line (chuckles). It had a great impact on me. I was like ‘This needs to be told!’ Every episode of Gullak showcases different issues that are relatable to every family in India. It is a family watch. It caters not only to the lower middle class in second-tier cities but also to the upper middle-class families who face the same sorts of issues.”

Gullak had no buyers

In her review, The Indian Express’ Shubhra Gupta described Gullak as a “cool glass of Roohafza on a blistering summer day”. However, the favorite flavor of OTT viewers is violence and action. On violent content being fed to audiences, Geetanjali Kulkarni said, “If that is what the society wants, that is the demand, then the supply will be like that. I am not saying that makers ki koi responsibility nahi hai, but there is also economics involved. If you have seen Taj Mahal 1989, we couldn’t do the second season because not many watched it. People who have watched it loved it, but bohot kam log dekhte hai, so what can be done? If the audience doesn’t want to see that kind of content, the makers are helpless because people need money to make a web show or a film. So where will you get the money from if there is no demand for such content.”

Geetanjali also revealed how Gullak did not have any buyers initially. “We started it as an indie project. At that time, there was no platform involved. After TVF people made it, Shreyansh Pandey (Gullak creator) and Arunabh (Kumar, TVF founder) didn’t know if they would get a platform or not. They also had their own YouTube channel, but they wanted to sell it, and thankfully, Sony agreed and came on board.”