When an actor is asked to do a cameo, he can rest assured that he has arrived. When Sumeet Vyas did a cameo in Areé's web series Chukiyagiri, viewers said - look, that's the guy from TVF's Permanent Roommates and Tripling.
The Jodhpur-born Vyas began his web series journey with a note addressed to The Viral Fever (TVF), an online digital entertainment platform launched by Arunabh Kumar. After watching a piece of bite-sized content produced by TVF - an online content creation star-up at the time, Vyas wrote to TVF. "I would love to be a part of your videos, I like what you all do, whenever you are making your next video I would love to be a part of it," it read.
Yes, it was as simple as that for Vyas. At the time, the aspiring actor was doing bit roles in movies and TV serials.
"I might get to do a small, two-to-three-minute-long video, but I didn't think of a web series in my wildest dreams," he told afaqs! about this strange letter to TVF. This was in 2014.
First, a recap...
Vyas' acting career began with theatre in 2000. "I was very bad at studies; I failed my 12th standard exams. I quit my studies to look for a job and my father (a script writer) referred me to an editing studio where I was hired as an apprentice. There, I became an editor and started editing countdown shows for TV..." he says between sips of green tea.
He faced the camera for the first time in 2003. It was a show for DD, called 'Woh Hue Na Hamare', directed by Chander Bhel of FTII. He recalls, "I was 20-21 years old and they were paying me Rs. 4,000 a day." He shot for eight days per month. "It was good money," he says,
This, he recalls as the most frustrating phase of his career. When he contemplated giving up TV and going back to theatre, his father told him: "Concentrate on the acting bit, not on the platform." How serendipitous for Vyas to have now made it in the world of web series, consumed on a mobile screen, isn't it?
He did his first ad film in 2007. It was for an insurance company and was directed by Soojit Sircar. Subsequently, he acted in a Mahesh Bhatt movie called Jashn. Recalling an anecdote from his first day on the film, he says, "I was heading to Colaba and my bike broke down midway. The production people were calling repeatedly and eventually one of them told me 'Mahesh Bhatt is shooting the scene and he is waiting for you...' I thought I'd get fired on the first day of my first film...."
"... I reached the set, petrified. But Mahesh Bhatt sat me down, spoke to me and arranged for a mechanic to fix my vehicle.... he made sure my head was mess-free..."
Back to the letter that got him into TVF...
"TVF read my letter, called me, told me they are making a 'proper series' with five-minute-long episodes. They said it would be called 'a web series," he says about a plan that evolved into a web series called Permanent Roommates. The first episode turned out to be 15 minutes long. The episodes kept getting longer. "It was mesmerising to see people spending so many megabytes watching us online; it had never happened before," he adds.
(Who's That is a section in which we profile rising stars in the advertising and media space.)