‘Never Have I Ever’ director hopes for more South Asian shows

One of the first episodes from director Kabir Akhtar on Mindy Kaling’s Netflix comedy series “Never Have I Ever” was the first episode told from the point of view of Ben Gross (Jaren Levison) in Season 1.

The show follows Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) as she conquers the rollercoaster of high school, the emotions of adolescence and her characteristically hot temper, which can flare up at any moment. Devi also experiences a classic love triangle between two very different boys – Levison’s exuberant, nerdy Ben Gross and Darren Barnett’s laid-back jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida.

“I ended up directing the Ben episode and one of the Paxton episodes, and that first one, one of the things I loved the most — you see it on the surface, and at that point in the show you have this young brown girl. as the lead character,” Akhtar told TheWrap. “This privileged white kid who’s sort of the main antagonist, and then to face a script where the job is to make the bad guy sympathetic, in doing It’s a lot of fun because everyone’s going through stuff.”

Akhtar used certain techniques, such as an empty set and wide framing, to highlight Ben’s loneliness. He also directed Paxton’s breakout episode of season 4.

“I took an approach to filming it in a slightly different way. It still feels like the same show but wide frame, empty frame, poor Ben playing basketball in his front yard in his huge horrible house like there’s nobody around anywhere,” he said. “Similarly, in this Paxton episode, when you first meet him, he seems two-dimensional. He’s smoldering and silent, but when you peel back the layers and look at the things he’s is struggling, see what’s hard for her, in many ways – just like in real life – when you get to know someone better and understand them better, I think you end up liking them more It’s a really fun storytelling device to use in a television series.

Akhtar had no idea how the love triangle would resolve.

“From the beginning, I didn’t know how it was going to end. It’s funny because both Jaren and Darren were always telling me, they say, ‘Come on. You’re my team though. Right?'” she said. Said.” And I’m like, ‘Well, you know, I love you both equally.’ I had no idea who I thought it would be.”

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Like stars Richa Moorjani and Poorna Jagannathan, the cultural moves of “Never Have I Ever” have not been appreciated by Akhtar.

“When I started the show, season one, it was what it was three-and-a-half or four years ago. At the time, it was almost unimaginable that a show was being made in America about a first-generation Indian American child and an Indian family, and not about its Indianness,” said Akhtar. “And just to think about how groundbreaking it was, sometimes it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that there was never a show like that. Now the door is open for more. There is much more in the pipeline and more representation for Desi on television and in films. I am very happy to be a part of it and to have got a chance to direct it because I know I have never seen anything like this on television in my youth.

“It made a huge difference to me that there weren’t shows like that, and I can only imagine it’s making a huge difference now. It seems like we’ve moved the needle so far that it’s now only isn’t an option, it feels necessary and welcome and important. I think ‘Never Have I Ever’ has been a tremendously fun show to watch for four years, you know and with fun characters to root for or root for.” But behind all of that, what this show has done to change the cultural conversation about South Asian representation makes it extremely important to me and I’m very proud to be a part of it.

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