Actor-comic Naveen Richard is thrilled with reactions coming his way for "Pushpavalli" season two and he says the response feels sweeter as the team worked hard to not fall into the trap of repeating themselves in the new chapter.
Created by comic Sumukhi Suresh who also stars in the title role, the first season of the Amazon Prime Video's original series saw Pushpavalli move to Bengaluru from Bhopal to stalk Nikhil, a man she is obsessed with.
The new season chronicles the revenge Pushpavalli plans against Nikhil, who rejected her advances.
Naveen said the team wrote season two for close to eight months and he came on board towards the end.
"Between season one and writing two, I was also working on the 'Better Life Foundation' web series. By the time I got back to the show, I forgot the expectations, which helped. You want to do better for sure. But the thing which was challenging was to not fall in the same pattern in writing and character arcs.
"You'll be writing for days and would suddenly realise, 'Damn, we have done this before.' Even with Pankaj, we had to give him a lot of other things to do," Naveen told PTI in an interview.
The Bengaluru-based comedian, whose performance as the perennially angry librarian Pankaj has earned him praise from all quarters, asserted he is nothing like his on-screen character.
"I am glad the audience bought into the character and they were able to feel like he's real because he's so different from who I am. I'm glad people found it convincing and weren't put off by the yelling, which means his softness also felt real.
"It is hard to get people to like a character who keeps shouting. I guess we gave him a good arc," he said.
Naveen said the trick was to also show a different, softer side of Pankaj, who, as a lot of people texted him saying, "truly cares for Pushpavalli," who manages to manipulate probably the only true friend she has.
"Inherently I'm a more approachable guy. That's why in the scenes where he's interacting with Swati (Preetika Chawla) you see how much of a softy he really is. Once you show the audience that's who he is (they will relate)... On top of that, he always means well."
His onscreen love-hate relationship with Sumukhi has been appreciated a lot and the comedian said the secret to their chemistry is their longtime off-screen friendship.
"The chemistry comes from years of working together. In fact, the moment we started working together, I remember, she had a sketch with her friends and they wanted me to play a few parts in it. We started getting along, both Tamilians in Bengaluru connecting with each other.
"It's really cool to work with someone who is so energetic. We have been doing sketches for so many years now. When two people act on stage together, you really have to connect to that person. It's much easier for us to connect in front of a camera, also because she is one of my closest friends," he added.
Naveen, who has been writing, featuring on shows and doing stand-up comedy for close to a decade, said as a comedian, there's always pressure to constantly keep the laughs coming.
"It's hard not to get into the pressure, especially when you're on stage. When you're on stage and telling a good story, you know when the audience is engaged. Then you don't care about the laughs. As long as it works in the end. If you're confident that the pay off is good, it's fine," he said.
"When you're writing a show like 'Pushpavalli 2', it's different. There are scenes where we know we don't have any laughs and then there are scenes we know you'll laugh a lot," he added.
Naveen said being a comedian is about trying to stay calm, maintaining some discipline in life and being able to write "while also relaxing so that life can happen to you".
"You can't be afraid to make mistakes and get into silly situations but not forcing silly situations. It's about being a little adventurous. The more you experience, the more you write. I try not to lead too boring a life, otherwise you won't have anything to talk about," he added.
The comedian also has his latest Amazon comedy special, "Relatively Relatable", streaming right now and said it is a "lovely coincidence" that it debuted right after the second season of "Pushpavalli".
"It feels good. I'm so glad I get to surprise the audience with a character like Pankaj and then the goofy side of me which is my special," he added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)