Actors Jim Sarbh, Aisha Ahmed, Prit Kamani along with Director, Dibya Chatterjee and writer Sumaira Shaikh of Bumble’s series – Not Another Lockdown Dating Show 2, talk to us about the Insta-series, online dating and more.

Dating is not easy, especially in the virtual world but it can be quite exciting too, no? It has various aspects to it that make for some great connections, fun dates, and also some memorable experiences. It may not always be what you’re expecting but sometimes it’s even better than the expectations you had. To portray the different aspects of online dating, Bumble released the second season of Not Another Lockdown Dating Show 2 a short while ago. The second part of the app’s branded content series feels anything but forcefully branded – it’s entertaining, engaging and more than anything relatable to the audiences. The show’s actors Jim Sarbh, Aisha Ahmed, Prit Kamani along with Director, Dibya Chaterjee and Writer Sumaira Shaikh recently shared their takes and insights on the show, online dating and lots more with us. Read on to find out what they had to say…

Can you tell us the most fun part and also the most challenging one about shooting content in this one frame, vertical format for the show?

Jim Sarbh – I think we all had gotten very used to zoom calls and video chats over the lockdown, so I felt that I was quite used to it. My group of friends also kept making silly funny little birthday videos for each other over the lockdown, so I had some practice. Also I didn’t shoot it, so really all I did was sat where I was told and played out the scene.

Aisha Ahmed – Most challenging thing about the series would definitely be making tripods with books, trying to empty your phone memory and constantly fighting with bad internet. As for the vertical format you are obviously a little restricted with your movements, it’s a lot of talking less of movement which initially I wasn’t comfortable with but clearly turned out to be fun!

Prit Kamani – The most fun part was it felt like a real conversation, it was shot how I would actually talk to my friends, and shooting on an iPhone was so efficient that we completed our work in less than half the time. And it was all organic, natural light, just 3-5 crew members. However, the challenge was that because the vertical format naturally concentrates the attention to the character in the frame, it sizeably raises the responsibility to convey the emotion and the message.

Have you ever tried a dating app in real life or are you just living vicariously through your character in this series?

Aisha –  Not yet, haven’t tried it but have definitely been in my friends profile to help them find ‘the one’.

Prit – Yes. I have tried a dating app and been on some really fun dates. But I’m more of an old school guy. Although a dating app like Bumble makes it so easy to find the right match, a real person and it makes it simple to open up to a complete stranger.

Jim – No I haven’t, just vicarious living. I’m not opposed to trying it, I just have been a bit old fashioned about all of it- old fashioned in our post covid world being able to go out and meet someone, that is. However, people have sent me images of my profiles on hinge, tinder, and Grindr. So, there are imposters out there.

bumble

When asked about women making the first move, Aisha said it helps keep the creeps away, while Prit called it, digital chivalry, and Jim thought it was great as it takes the pressure off.

What’s the one dating advice you’d like to give your character?

Prit – Better luck next time hahaha!

Jim – Take it easy, take it slow.

Aisha –  STOP and listen to what you actually want and not get carried away with every act of validation.

How do you think are inclusive dating apps with non-binary gender identity options and dating preferences such as Bumble helping people?

Prit – It’s a beautiful step towards becoming a more loving and accepting society. Identifying and recognising people for who they are and making them feel comfortable is the first step to heal a bleeding world that has been hurt for far too long.

Jim – I think it’s great. The more we flow with inclusivity and widening our perspective on how we or others identify, can only broaden our understanding of ourselves. There is an urban legend about the native populations living in the arctic, about how they have fifty words for snow – I don’t know if this is entirely true – but the concept is fascinating. The more words you have for something, the better you can describe it, the better you can know it. So, instead of a rigid idea of gender and sexuality, the more we can acknowledge, name, and identify with a more fluid system, the better we can know ourselves and our desires.

Aisha –  I can only hope that it is since I’ve not encountered any stories or been on the app myself.

How would you define love in 2020?

Aisha – Honestly, it’s what you want it to be. Definitely, you need to be more invested than ever before because everyone is so edgy and vulnerable. So yea, I guess stay true, honest and sensitively and really just love.

Jim – Very important. Deep personal connections are crucial in this disconnected, disorienting time.

Prit – Based on my personal experience in 2020, I’d define love as tried, tested and triumphed. And if it ain’t, “toh picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.”

When asked whether they preferred virtual dates or meeting someone in person, Prit and Jim favoured the latter while Aisha seemed to find the former more comfortable.

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We also spoke to the Director of the show, Dibya Chatterjee and here’s what he had to share:

What are the challenges or benefits of shooting content in the vertical format?
“I think the vertical format is here to stay. Damien Chazelle recently did a vertical fiction film for apple shot on iPhone and you have to see it to believe it the level they have achieved. It’s awe-inspiring really. Photographic images have been vertical forever and I think creators are also adapting to these changing styles of vertical videography where the audiences do not even have to flip the phone. I think the biggest challenge is to frame wide shots or when you have more than 2 characters in the same frame. How you do the art design also significantly alters for vertical content. Framing for a vertical screen has its own requisites and it can get a little tricky.

Though one major drawback of vertical content is that it can only be played on the phone. But at the same time, that’s also the fun of it. It’s just refreshing to say stories in the vertical format as it allows you to concentrate on areas of imagery that you would otherwise ignore for horizontal content. It’s a complete change of perspective and a big leap into the new media content of the future.”

What has shooting with extra safety precautions been like?
“Surprisingly, it was a lot of fun. Shooting with a limited crew and equipment made almost all of us dabble multiple jobs on floor. The DA was also doubling up as the sound recordist during takes. The limitations actually made us more flexible and willing to innovate. Huge shoutout to the actors too who totally adapted to this changing style and were also equally invested as the other technicians. It was like making an indie film.”

With the ever-evolving (and also shortening) content formats, do you think brands and makers are also evolving and moving past heavily branded content?
“Absolutely. I feel this is a very exciting time for audio-visual content in any format. Pop art is at an all-time high, and with the advent of social media content such as vines, etc, the traditional structure of advertising has completely reshuffled. Creators like Danish Sait, Rahul Subramaniam, Dolly Singh, etc are setting new benchmarks in new media and branded content. The integration has to be as seamless and organic as possible.”

5. Are any of the dating incidents inspired by your personal experience?
Haha not really, these incidents are mostly a result of a lot of trash-talking between me and Sumaira Shaikh, who’s the writer of the show.

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Talking about Sumaira Shaikh, the talented writer of the series also shared some interesting insights with us. Take a look:

1. In what way do different content formats challenge you as a writer?
“In the shorter formats, there is not a lot of space to establish and set up conflicts, it
needs to be done quickly and smartly.”

What was your favourite scene or part to write for?
“It was fun to write the whole series, specially the last scene where all three of them
meet at Aisha’s house. They seem very comfortable with each other, Aisha and Jim
team up to pull Prit’s leg.”

Were any of the incidents inspired by your personal experience?
“Not from my life, but there are people around me who are on dating apps and are trying their hand at dating right now in the pandemic.”

We’ve seen so many dating app stories, what makes this one different, according
to you?
“I feel, putting yourself out there has always been vulnerable, and we all turn to our friends to discuss our fears and vulnerabilities, this show uses that angle heavily, it makes it very real and very enjoyable for the viewer I feel.”

How would you define each of the main characters in a line?
“Aisha is unpredictable, Jim is old school and Prit is filled with hope.”

Also Read: Creators Mrunal Panchal and Anirudh Sharma confirm their exit from DAMNFAM