Prajakta Koli has been one of the most popular social media stars. She became so popular on YouTube and other social media platforms, that soon she started getting offers for acting, and within no time she started getting some of the biggest films in her kitty.
With the enormous success, she hasn’t changed even a bit and still continues to share her crazy antics on social media whether it’s through YouTube videos or reels. She has also been doing a lot of web series which is just adding to her soaring popularity.
She recently did ‘Desi Downunder’ on Audible. For the unversed, ‘Desi Downunder’, packed with adventure, romance and comedy, follows three young Mangaloreans who take their first trip abroad, training as lifesavers at the stunning Coogee beach in Sydney, Australia. This immersive 9-episode series is brought to life by fan-favourite actors Taaruk Raina and Adarsh Gourav alongside Prajakta Koli. The series is designed to fuel Indian audiences’ wanderlust and encourage Indian youth to chase their dreams.
Prajakta Koli talks to Prateek Sur about ‘Desi Downunder’, her travel expeditions, her experience of moving from video to an audio medium, and lots more. Excerpts:
Audiences know you for your crazy and fun antics on camera, how different or rather difficult was it to create the same kind of fun when you were not acting on screen. And were just having to create that with your voice?
I think more than the video, the audio side of things, I think what was different was that every time I am creating content that's around characters that I do on my social media, they're always written by me, I think the huge difference here was that Nina wasn't written by me. She was a matelasse brainchild and Mantra kind of got her to be the way she is. I just had to step into her shoes. Everything about how she felt, who she is, what makes her tick, what is her passion, everything was very different. So I don't think the two can be compared. However, the whole process of being Meenu and kind of getting to live this life of a surfer, or a lifeguard in Sydney, with her closest people, her one of her best friends and her twin brother, I think was very exciting.
You're seeing is that the new thing? And lots of celebrities are going into it? Have you been an avid listener of audiobooks or fictional audio series?
I'll be honest, actually, no, I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks after I started recording. So we recorded them sitting down, and there's some time at the end of last year. So for the past five, six months is when I keep alternating between books and audiobooks or audio shows and podcasts. So that's how it started.
As an audience, what would you prefer more in audio series or watching a web series?
I think the great part is that you don't have to choose as an audience. I think that's the power of being a consumer of content at this point. Why? Why do I even have to choose? When I have both?
Tell us a bit about Meenu. How different or how similar is Meenu from Prajakta Koli?
Very, very different. First of all, she's a great swimmer. I can't swim to save my life literally. Like if I had to save my life and die. But Meenu is passionate, she is emotional. She feels very strongly. She is not scared of trying new things. But at the same time, she's very rational. She tries to be very rational in her mind. She's about 24. She's twin siblings with Rahul. And she's very, very close to Deven. And there are all these feelings she has for him but she's too scared to talk about them because they've been friends growing up. But overall, she cares deeply about her friends and her family and her community where she comes from which is the shores of Mangalore. So overall, she's a wholesome person. And I feel like if I met her, I would want to be friends with them.
When you’re acting on screen, you usually have to create chemistry and a bond with your co-stars. Was that necessary for this? Like did you have to create that bond with Adarsh or Taaruk?
Oh, definitely. So the great thing about working with Taaruk on this was that Taaruk and I are very close friends. We've been close friends, like I've known him for over four years now. But we've been close friends for more than two years. It's been lovely knowing him when we started working on Smash first, but now he's just one of my closest friends. And I'm very grateful for having him. So the slipping into the whole siblings making fun of each other, but being there for each other. Wasn't very tough, because that's how we are in general. We will always pull each other's leg but I know he's always there for me if I need him. So it was just exciting that I got to play something like that with dialogue with others. I had heard a lot about him. I had seen his work. I've been a fan but I never had the pleasure of meeting him. But it just took one reading like it just took us having lunch once and when we were reading to kind of because he's such a sweet guy. You know, it's very easy to get along with him. He is extremely warm. He's very, very simple and sweet. He is I quite like meeting him before. was time and then the couple of days that we did record together. It was very exciting. And I think Mantra had a huge role in making sure that Adarsh and I should spend enough time together for a few scenes that were very crucial. Chemistry wise, so yeah, it was good fun.
Was it just like reading your own lines in isolation, and then they were all mixed together in post-production? Or did you guys actually had to record it together?
So Adarsh, I recorded some lines together some scenes, which like I said, were crucial parts of the show. We kind of recorded them together. But Taaruk, and I didn't get to record anything together. He finished recording before all of us actually. Then I went on, but yeah, most of it was recorded by everybody by themselves.
We all know Mantra as an actor and RJ, how was Mantra as a director? Is he a tough taskmaster?
Not really, I mean, tough taskmaster. I don't know, because he did get the task through in time. But he is extremely collaborative. I think the fact that he met me as an actor made way for every line, every pause, every breath. Also making sure it was just an exhausting job, I realized, you know, because, like, you don't have any other aids to your, to your performance, like because you don't know what you look like or where you're standing or how it is what the weather is, you know how other people are, what are they saying? I think a director's job gets that much tougher, because every single thing he would give me a background of what has happened, what is happening, what is going to happen, what means thought processes, and he was so thorough with the story. So I think I wouldn't at all call him like he wasn't strict. But he knew what he wanted. And he knew how to get us to reach that point, which I think for someone like me who's very new to this is a blessing.
As the series is about travelling in Australia with your friends and having life experiences. Have you ever had a personal trip to Australia – solo or with friends? If yes, how has the experience been?
I have never been there with friends. All the two of my closest friends live in Australia, not in Sydney, but in Brisbane. So I plan on visiting them soon. But the only time I've been to Australia was for a work trip for a week and I hardly got to see the country so hopefully I can make a plan.
In this series, you three are learning to surf in Australian beaches. Have you surfed in real life?
I have not I can't swim in real life. So, I wouldn't risk it yet.
Besides Australia, are there any tourist destinations that you have in your bucket list for a trip with your friends?
I want to see as much of the world as I can. But I spent a month in the UK last year shooting but because I was shooting I didn't get to see the country. So I would love to go to Edinburgh. It sounds magical that in Scotland.
What's coming next for you one screen or even in audio?
On-screen, I've got an Amazon Prime Video movie actually releasing on the 7th july. It's called Neeyat and I'm very, very excited about it. I also am a part of another audible show called Marvel's Wastelanders. I'm a part of the show called Hawkeye. Where Jaideep Ahlawat is Hawkeye, I play Ash, his daughter. It's quite exciting, very different from anything I've done before. And then there's another couple of things that we've shot for that. I don't know if I'm allowed to speak about it but soon I guess. I've been spending a lot of time writing which will hopefully come through.