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Exclusive! Arun Koushik: Meme Boys urges to stand up against attempts to curb freedom of expression

The director of Meme Boys, the SonyLIV original web series, opens up about the project

Exclusive! Arun Koushik: Meme Boys urges to stand up against attempts to curb freedom of expression

Arun Koushik

  • Thinkal Menon

Last Updated: 03.36 PM, Jul 22, 2022

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Filmmaker Arun Koushik is elated as Meme Boys, his directorial project, started streaming on SonyLIV a few hours ago. The web series, which has been released in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi, deals with the ego clash between a stern college dean and a few meme creators.

In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Arun talks about the reason behind placing meme creators as protagonists, threat from the pandemic during shooting, reason behind choosing relatively newbies for lead roles, the presence of a couple of veteran actors in the project and the undercurrent message behind the story.  

What's Meme Boys all about and what can movie lovers look forward to?

Well, it's a fun-filled show which revolves around a cat-and-mouse game which happens in a college between an autocratic dean and four meme creators. Most of us have enjoyed many memes on social media and have shared it with friends, but only a few have interacted with those who come up with creative memes. This thought made us develop a story which has meme creators as its protagonists.

How did the idea of students vs dean come up?

It was the show's creator Rajiv Rajaram who suggested the idea. Meme creators are an anonymous group of people; they are today's modern cartoonists. We decided on the campus backdrop after Drishya Gautam, another creator of the series, proposed the idea. We felt that a confined environment would suit the story.

Why did you decide to present this story as a series and not as a feature film?

In feature films, you need to convey everything quickly whereas a series allows you to take more time to develop a situation and a character. Moreover, I like the fact that every episode has a beginning and conclusion. This is an advantage we can utilize only in the long-form content.

Is the story about dean vs college students based on any real-life incident?

Not really. It's completely fictional. We come across fascists in different places. Interestingly, wherever there is a fascist, you can spot a few rebels as well. This is a global phenomenon and that's how he went ahead with the idea.  

A poster of Meme Boys
A poster of Meme Boys

How did COVID-19 pose a threat to shooting and post-production works of the project?

The idea for the series was initiated in 2018; we developed the story around 2020. We started the shooting between the second and third wave of the pandemic. The biggest challenge was to handle the huge crowd in the campus. Since there were many junior artists involved, it was difficult to maintain all the precautions. But we somehow managed to do it; there were no COVID-19 cases in our location. The post-production works began after the third wave.  

Most of the cast in Meme Boys, except for two or three, are comparatively new faces. How did you zero in on the lead actors?

We wanted to cast actors who are really in the age group of college students. We were also not keen on notable stars. Aadhitya Bhaskar, who came up with a remarkable performance in 96, is playing one of the leads. Jayanth, one of the actors who was part of a few notable sequences in Super Deluxe, is another lead actor. We are introducing Namritha and Siddarth who have also essayed lead roles in the series.

The show stars two veterans as well - Guru Somasundaram and Badava Gopi...

As we all know, both of them are extremely talented and were thorough entertainers on the set as well. Guru comes from a theatre background while Gopi is a stand-up comedian. Their immense contribution really helped in many sequences. It was good to see them gel well with the newbies because of which some of the scenes shaped up really well.  

Since you talked about the theme being a fight between a fascist and a few rebels, is there any message you intend to offer in the story?

There is an under current message in it. It's about standing up against attempts to curb freedom of expression. However, it is a light-hearted show, and the message is delivered in a simple, subtle manner.

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