It was the night of 30th December when a handful of people started tweeting about Alok Nath. The tweets were jokes made on the Sanskaari roles he has portrayed in his films and soon, the entire Indian Twitter crowd jumped on to the bandwagon. In no time, this yesteryear’s actor started trending nationwide!
Caught in this social media frenzy, Alok Nath is a rage today. To know more about his perspective on this new found stardom, the Social Samosa team interviewed the actor.
Following is a transcript of the interview where he talks how he braved the Twitter-storm:
You suddenly went viral on Social Media. What do you think must have triggered the Twitter storm?
Seriously speaking, I don’t have any clue at all. I just woke up one morning and there was a barrage of questions from my wife asking if I have been upto something nasty because I am trending on Twitter and people are saying crazy, funny and unnecessary things about me.
It was news to me because I don’t have an account nor do I follow Twitter. I only use Facebook. I woke my kids up and asked them. They said that last night Rajshree’s Hum Saath Saath Hain was playing on TV – the kind of movies from this stable are all about family, values, parenting etc and I play the eternal babuji – so some dialogue in the movie which had Sanskari values must have tickled somebody’s funny bone and he made a pun on them. And soon other people joined as if they were waiting with bated breath.
How did you react to all this?
My first reaction was: “Why the hell me?!”
I am a low-key kind of a person. I had no idea how to react. Should I go on rooftops and shout that I am popular? Should go sit in my sad sullen corner? Or should I retaliate in any way?
But my kids asked me to chill and relax. They asked me to enjoy, saying they themselves have been laughing since evening! There was nothing else to do, because if I retaliate people would get more aggressive.
So I relaxed, chilled and enjoyed; and after some time it stopped affecting me.
Did these jokes trouble you? Since people were laughing at your expense.
Initially it did, definitely. I felt bad. Never in my faintest of dream I thought that people will be so creative to find funny things about me and my character. There’s not an iota of funnyness [sic] in what I do as a performer. So it came as a jolt to me.
But my kids told me that I can’t escape it and there’s no other way but to relax and laugh at it and wait for it to pass. So when I started absorbing the effect of jokes, it was therapeutic and I became absolutely normal. It is courageous to laugh at yourself and it subdues the effect. People were expecting me to retaliate but there was none of it. I have taken it very lightly. Initially jokes were nasty, but gradually they became normal.
Which tweets did you like the most?
There were some very creative ones. One was about my pets, which read:
Alok Nath ke ghar ke kutte bhi itne sanskaari hain, ki wo bhonkte nahi hain. They go bhow-ji, bhow-ji.
Another was a crazy one. I was reading the newspaper when suddenly this joke came up on my mobile:
Alok Nath ke ghar ka pressure cooker bhi itna sanskaari hai ki woh seeti nahi bajaata.
And immediately, as if on cue, the pressure cooker went ballistic in the kitchen and I almost fell off laughing.
There are lots more crazy ones. I can’t even imagine people have so much time to spend on me.
Has this fame attained through social media helped you professionally?
If I take it on a positive note, certainly yes. Because suddenly in my quiet life, there has been a storm. Overnight, everybody is talking about Alok Nath. Everybody is talking sanskaar and values – although in a mildly sarcastic way – but at least the quotient of sanskaar and values has seeped into social media.
I have been on 12 interviews with all the major news channels. I also did a live interactive session with youngsters, and it was touching when they gave me a standing ovation.
For me, as a person, there is this new image that has cropped up. Since my early days I have been playing the elder brother, the father, or a sasur(father in law). And now I have discovered through them that may be I can do funny things also. So, lots of offers have started to come my way now.
People have approached me to do some comedy sketches for them, some people want me to do a series on “Babuji” on social media. As an actor, there is that little void in me; that I should have tried different kind of roles. But with this boom, I hope I get to do something funnier. And there are finances involved, so I am getting richer as well.
I would really want to meet the most noble soul who started all this. May be shake his hand, give him a hug and lots of aashirwaad. (laughs)
Professionally, are people treating you differently now?
Initially there was a scare because our colleagure Mr. Farooque Sheikh passed away few days before all this happened. And because Alok Nath was trending, they thought something is wrong. But it soon cleared off.
Professionally, it is the reintroduction of a person who was in a slumber. The same person has now emerged with a different persona, with a comic tinge to it. My professional friends are looking at me in a different way. Not in awe or anything, but they’re feeling why didn’t they recognize this aspect of mine. And social media has made them realize this.
Friends are having fun as well. They’re pulling my leg. But they’re happy that I have emerged in a different shade. It has put me in the leagues of Rajinikant or Santa-Banta. But I really don’t know how to take it. I want to take it as a compliment.
It’s a mixed bag. When some one jokes on you, or about you, initially you won’t like it. Nobody wants to be made fun of. But if you can’t escape it, you take it coolly. So I am playing along. Fire away!
Do you think the shows you’ll be doing now will get more attention?
The next show I am going to be a part of, I am playing a Dada in it (laughs). It’s a story of how three generation – the grandfather, the father and the son – are bonding together with their own values in a way they don’t clash with each other. Again, it’s full of sanskaars.
May be people might look at it with different perspective. May be the producers and directors might give it a different shade and tone to it. But it will be on air after 2 months so by then all this will be over.
What would you prefer: trending on twitter or a front page in a newspaper?
Somebody punned that “Alok Nath doesn’t read the paper but reads the matrimonials.” But if its on the front page, it will definitely not miss my gaze. I would prefer to be on paper. I am not on Twitter, so trending won’t matter much to me.
So you’re not on Twitter? There is a handle that claims to be the official one.
Well, borrowed glory then!
Would you like to join Twitter?
No I don’t want to join Twitter. I am not that savvy. And you know what happened with Shashi Tharoor. If not used properly it can create havoc in people’s lives. My kids want me to join though.
But wouldn’t you want to get in touch with all your fans?
I am not that big. I am a laidback kind of a person. I have done enough, seen enough. So I am quite happy with what I am and I don’t want more add-ons to it.
Whatever number of fans I have, I am connected to them on Facebook. I have a Facebook account – not a page – where I add my friends and fans. In fact, I have come to know very old friends via Facebook. But I don’t know many things about Facebook, nor am I very active there. I check it once every 3-4 days.
What do you think about Social Media?
It is a good thing that has happened. It has brought people together and made the world a smaller place as far as communication and knowledge are concerned. You are now aware of whatever that is happening all around the globe.
The last 33 years I have spent in Bombay, we have grown with all these things coming into our lives. Initially we had to go to post offices to make trunk calls to Delhi. Then came telegrams where we would communicate in lesser words. Then came pagers and those big mobiles as well as computers.
Then phones became smaller, laptops became popular, platforms like Skype and Facebook emerged. So yes, great things have happened. But adapting them in your life was initially difficult. And once you get used to them, you couldn’t live without them. So these things force themselves upon you initially, and then become a part of your life. But you can’t reject them.
Did any celebs call you after this incident?
I was invited for the Guild awards hosted by Salman Khan, since some people wanted me to be part of it.. They wanted me to do some funny acts on stage, but I could not do that. It would have been nice.
I got a small role in a Yash Raj film but I am not sure if it was because of this. But at the end of the day, everybody backs some one popular. So whoever is already known and accepted in the social structure, he’s definitely a saleable actor. In fact, after you guys I am meeting few people for another role.
Suddenly things had start happening. Otherwise, itna nahi hota!
Do people come up to you for autographs and photographs?
The way Ranveer Singh – co-star in the Yashraj film – met me, hugged me and touched my feet, it felt very good. He took snaps with me. On my last day of shoot the entire crew and junior artists took pictures with me. Their love was really amazing.
Two days after that, I went to a school’s cultural fest and I found the same love and affection there as well.
Are you done with this? Too many tweets have happened, too many media mentions, now do you want to go back and resume your normal life?
I am still doing what I am supposed to do. I have moved on. It’s not affecting me anymore.
Lastly, do you have any message for the people who have Tweeted so much about you?
I would really want to meet the person who started this whole saga and shake his hand and thank him for this glory he has imparted upon me.
Also, people have spent so much time and creative energy on me. They have literally brought a dead person alive. I would really hope they start devoting this creative energy to build the nation. I feel there is so much potential and creativity tapped in people that instead of wasting it upon me, they should use for social and political causes.
And we have Alok Nath giving Aashirwaad to all our users! https://t.co/4aDNRbBNYz
— Social Samosa (@Social_Samosa) January 20, 2014