“In today’s time, there is only one king and that is content,” says actor Ajay Gehi, who has recently forayed into standup comedy with The Ajay Gehi Show on Artist Aloud, a digital platform by Hungama that supports and promotes independent content.

The show is produced by Artist Aloud, and written, directed and performed by Gehi. Its first season comprises 14 episodes, each having a 10-minute runtime. The plotlines are based on relatable situations inspired by Gehi’s everyday life.

On what sets The Ajay Gehi Show apart from other comedy series, Gehi says, “The show is based on anecdotal comedy, which focuses more on acting. It is a mix of theatre and standup comedy. The show is a jovial take on silly moments from our everyday, fast-paced lives—moments we often forget to notice. It is a thought-provoking show without being preachy or in your face. And it is funny. The light, clean, and relatable content leaves a strong message and makes people ponder about the topics discussed.”

Juggling between the roles of writer, performer and director for this show wasn’t easy for Gehi. Scripting the episodes, in particular, was the most challenging. “The show provided me with a great platform to express, experiment and create. It is a wholesome experience to push your own limits and discover your own capabilities as an actor. Among the three roles, the most challenging aspect of the show was the conceptualisation of the show. Words are important and have to be given the utmost attention while writing a particular script. One single misconstrued word and the context will take a wrong direction and everything else will fall flat. I am glad that I got the chance to explore my writing skills and at the same time express myself and connect with the audience,” he says.

Treating the audiences with content they can relate to was always at the back of Gehi’s mind while writing the show. He had to be extra observant in his day-to-day encounters, and mined for material wherever he went.

He says, “Observation is the key to understanding situations that will establish relatability or make an instant connect with the audience. I always strive to strike a chord with the audience. Ultimately, the observation will make your audience laugh but it is the relatable incident that connects your audience with you. In our everyday life, we witness and live experiences that go unnoticed but when a third person comes in and points you towards the incident, you realise the humour in it and it adds something interesting to an otherwise mundane episode.”

Gehi also emphasises on the need to be sensitive towards the audiences’ “culture and preferences” while creating content for comedy shows. He says, “I believe the audiences today are more accepting and have an incredibly impressionable mind. They tend to get easily influenced by the people they have a connect with and follow diligently. Hence, it becomes imperative and an added responsibility of the comedian to be more sensitive… There is always a better way to present your ideas. We will be able to put across our message in a stronger way if we keep it clean and respect everyone’s ideas; and at the same time maintain our own stance.”

Prior to this, Gehi has appeared in movies like Maqbool and Raavan. So exploring the digital space with The Ajay Gehi Show was an entirely new experience for him. “The dynamics are very different for both [the digital space and films]. Artist Aloud is a digital platform that promotes independent artistes. A film is not made to promote anything or anyone but to tell a story. Both are different, albeit important verticals of the entertainment industry catering to different audiences,” he says.

Gehi feels that the online medium has not only made experimentation with different types of content simpler, but has also helped artistes to connect with the audiences. He says, “Digital platforms provide you with a systematic approach for reaching out to the audience, for sharing your content with them. In the click-and-bait environment, it is important to have a direction for the expression of your art. Independent art is still niche in India and platforms like Artist Aloud aid in bringing them forth and getting them due credit. For example, as an actor and singer, I got the opportunity and the right platform to conceptualise and explore my artistic instincts. There are more independent artistes who are getting their long overdue recognition because of platforms such as Artist Aloud.”

The actor-singer, like many of his contemporaries, intends to now try his hand at web series. He says, “I believe I would want to explore web series, for they offer a variety of content to the audience.”

On his future plans, Gehi concludes by saying, “The plan is to be seen on all platforms exhibiting different aspects of my creativity.”

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