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Naveen Polishetty: Meet the viral actor

Naveen Polishetty  

It’s that time of the year when parents go out of the way to grab an engineering seat for their children; there’s peer pressure among groups to not go beyond conventions and students are often in a spot between conforming to societal norms and finding their voice.

AIB’s (All India Bakchod) series Honest Engineering Campus Placements arrives at the right time with a witty take on travails of an engineering student experiencing a disconnect with the system, how the four-year stint and an ultimate corporate job find no relevance, on how the rigorous placement procedures do little to spot talent.

The ‘Average’ guy

The three-part series features Naveen Polishetty (who plays a character named Average) in a primary role; he’s the alter ego of most engineering students across the country. A section of the video where he voices his disconnect with the insistence of English in a placement interview has gone viral in a week’s time, nearly touching three crore views across all platforms. A notably surprised Naveen who has acted in films like 1 Nenokkadine and Life is Beautiful, also a Hyderabad-born engineer whose switch to an acting career paid him rich dividends, talks of what this overnight digital fame means to him.

In the video

In the video  

“I’m being floored by compliments all around, my parents in their respective Whatsapp groups received forwards of the video. People who’ve ignored me all along have been calling me for meetings; there have been calls from leading production houses too. I still feel somebody is playing a prank on me,” Naveen’s enthralled.

He feels the wide public connect for the series could be attributed to its effort to mirror the middle-class mentality, the struggles of a student who doesn’t know what he wants to be in life, succumbing to parental pressures and his need to find acceptance.

Beyond Honest Engineering Campus Placements, Naveen’s stint with AIB has got him opportunities to star in videos that challenged popular perceptions. He finds that the digital medium gave him a voice after he reached Mumbai, scraping past nearly 1000 film auditions (he’s sure of the number).

Some of his popular videos include Honest Indian Weddings, Honest Bars and restaurants, Chinese Bhasad and Man’s Best Friend. There’s been consistent appreciation all along, but nothing tops the responses he received for Honest Engineering Campus Placements.

The success on the digital front has been a surprise for an actor who gave his best shot at Telugu films, where luck didn’t favour him with missed opportunities, shelved films and projects where other actors took his place. He did theatre, tried stand-up comedy, and an act at a Mumbai café where he expressed his miseries got a lot of people laughing. He says he had to ‘sell his misery’ through the medium. Nevertheless, that’s what helped him land at AIB.

“Being with them has been a seamless integration; there was never a situation where I questioned myself on why I was here,” he mentions. The digital medium, he says, continues to be a tricky one; it allows you to be democratic, gives you a wider reach, “But my career is done when there’s a power cut or when a wi-fi router doesn’t work.”

Beyond comedy

Given he’s established himself reasonably well in the comedic space, the last year had him actively focusing on other genres too. He. cherishes the opportunity to have acted in Anil Kapoor’s 24 and a forthcoming French television series where he got to star alongside many European actors. Films brought him to Mumbai; he still nurses a desire to act in Telugu films, but doesn’t want to be the hero’s friend every time. “I feel roles beyond the lead parts aren’t written well; they don’t have a journey or an arc. We have a lot to learn from the TV shows in the West where supporting parts are brilliantly etched. Nenokkadine and Life is Beautiful were wonderful experiences because of the directors. If a Telugu producer/actor has watched my videos and want to cast me, I’m still game,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Jun 9, 2021 3:02:35 PM |

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