The brains behind epic reality shows like Roadies and Splitsvilla Raghu Ram and Rajiv Ram came with a brand new recipe for Netflix, IRL- In Real Love for Netflix India. The experimental dating show that pittied singles against one another in an online dating setup viz-a-viz offline interaction has surely caught the fancy of the viewers for it’s unique concept, intersting premise and a whole lot of drama, romance and heartbreak.
Actor and model Pratham Sharma who hails from Jaipur, Rajasthan was one of the most sought after contestants. In an exclusive interview with News18 Showsha, Pratham highlighted his journey on the show, his life prior to making it big with India’s first love reality show and more. Here are the excerpts of the conversation.
Pratham Sharma Recalls His Journey With IRL- In Real Love
I was scrolling and I got to know that they are doing a reality dating show and they even mentioned the name Netflix in it. There are many reality shows in India like Splitsvilla but I was never interested in it. I got to know about it from a casting call. I applied for me and it took me 10 months to get selected for it. It was a very long and rigorous process. They were keeping everything a secret for a reason. We had to be patient about everything. First I had to fill up an introductory form about myself. Then I got a zoom call from Raghu and Rajiv. They wanted to know more about me. Then I had to send a video to them followed by Netflix doing a lot of background checks, psychological evaluation and fitness test. So it felt like I was preparing for a marathon. And when things like this happen, you don’t even know how big the things gonna be.
And the uncertainty about being selected after all that. It took a huge toll on my head. And when I realised that they shortlisted the profiles after lakhs of audition, you realise how big it is gonna be. They even collaborated with Tinder. So I had given auditions about 17 times before getting selected for this. They even tested my texting skills through an anonymous account. That’s how careful and meticulous they were with the selection process. Because every individual that has been selected is different from each other with their unique personalities. I really worked hard and I was like I don’t want to turn my back. Plus Netflix gave me an opportunity to show all sides of my personality, that I am chirpy, innocent, a good guy. But definitely I didn’t take this as an acting job. Because it is a reality show and I wanted to show me as a person. People should know Pratham Sharma as a person so that they can connect and relate to it. I was upfront with everyone about my motive that I wanted to show my personality but if I get a decent girl, it’s a win win for me. I was excited to meet new people and form new connections not only in terms of relationships
Pratham Sharma Explains Whether He Had Reservations Towards Participating In A Dating Show
When I was auditioning for Netflix, I was going through a difficult phase. I am an actor, an outsider with no filmy background. I come from a very middle class family. So at that time I had no work. Our life is very lonely. You might work for four months and perhaps after that you might not get work for two months. I did have certain reservations about doing this since I came from a middle class family. So I asked my father, he asked me whether I have some work! I said no. He told me that I am a beggar. If somebody gives you Rs 20, you can ask them to give you Rs 100. You are going for a Netflix show and it’s certainly not a small thing. Whatever you’ll do, I am with you. Whatever I am today, all the credits goes to my father and grandfather. My heart always told me to become an actor even when I had studied from London and was working there. My grandfather is a national award winning writer. So there has been some association of our family with drama and acting. My father struggled in the industry as well. It has been a generational struggle. It’s very inspiring in a way and this is a big thing for my family as it’s my debut. My livelihood was modeling and theatre. In television you have to restrain yourself, I learnt my tv acting from Barry John. In theatre you feel liberated. And then Covid came. I have struggled really hard in audition lines. After six years I got a break with Netflix. If I am verified by Netflix, there is no looking back. I am confident about myself. I feel goosebumps. My father jumped and cried.
Pratham Sharma Talks About Rannvijay Singha And Gauahar Khan, The Hosts Of IRL
Rannvijay and Gauahar were really amazing host. And they were to assess and they were very much involved in every couple or connection that was made. Because obviously they are running the show as a host. The best thing about In Real Love is that it is completely unscripted. There is no script whatsoever. They just put you in different situations and you’re gonna act automatically. Raghu and Rajiv has very smartly made the show and I will say that this is the best show ever made. Because this completely outside of their personaloties. It’s a contrast.
Gauhar and Rannvijay didn’t shape our relationships. Because we had the full freedom of shaping the relationships ourselves. They were to guide us, show us the way and tell us how to go about it.
Raghu had the same role. There was not even prompting. It is a tough job but you are shooting it in a beautiful manner, that itself is very commendable. There used to be monitors on sets. We were not allowed to talk to the girls after the camera shuts down. They were specific that If you want to interact, do it on the camera. Everything was serious. We didn’t know what’s going to happen next or what dates would we be going on. That gave us a level of excitement and thrill as well. It was a different experience completely.
Pratham Sharma Gets Candid About His Connections Sakshi And Sifat
When I started talking to Sakshi, I was all in. I was chatting with her. I felt good. That’s the experiment of the show. When you talk to someone online, it’s possible you experience a different vibe when you meet them in person. She sounded very mature over text because I had no idea about her other connections. I came with a fresh mindset. On our first date, I felt the vibe was off but I tried to pull it up.
But her problem was that she was too full of herself. She doesn’t wanna reciprocate. And then it became boring because how long would you compliment and appreciate someone without your energy and efforts being reciprocated? She would only be interested when I’d compliment her.
So it was a turn off and that’s what I understood on the first date. I gave her more chances. But it reached a certain level when I got frustrated. On our date, instead of talking about us or each other, she would be prodding me to know whom I was talking or what was going on with other contestants.
I used to feel the pressure that this girl would ask me what I was exploring at the moment or who I was talking to. The show’s format was such that we had to talk to everyone. There was nothing wrong with it. But she used to make me feel like I was doing a crime. As if she wasn’t talking to other people herself. And she would say like ‘this is my show’. So that level of arrogance was a turn off. She has a good heart.
But she doesn’t know when, what to speak. If you are not a good listener and you are not ready to give space to the other person. She wanted someone whom she can tie in leash and parade around as per her whims. And I am not like that. My self-respect is paramount.
I am a good looking guy, confident guy. I don’t owe anyone anything. So if you are shitting on me, I am not gonna tolerate. Then I have to put her in her place but in the right way. And then on the other hand, Sifat was a nice and softspoken girl.
Pratham Sharma Gives An Update About Rifat
I told Sifat that I want to know you more as a person outside. But some things are like, if you get to know a person, you are honest about things in your life. If you see in the show, I am exactly how I am in real life. But I didn’t realise some people were doing for the sake of it and some people were doing it for their own personal reasons and I cannot debate on that. But it’s fine. I realised outside the show it wouldn’t work out. Because some things happened which are private but it made me realise she is not the right one. So we are in good terms and there is a friendly connection.
Pratham Sharma Reveals His Strongest Connections From The Show
When you live with 12 people for 30 days without phone or anything, you get familiar with one another. And you know most things about everyone. So the strongest connection I have is with Vidushi, Sahib and Dhruv. These three people are very close to me and they are very genuine friends of mine.
Pratham Sharma Shares His Views On People Calling The Show Cringeworthy
Because I came in the fourth episode, I didn’t do any cringeworthy antics. So I didn’t feel anything cringeworthy about how people talked because I have seen them talking like that in real life. When you are on a platform where you have to give your best, in doing that, you sometimes go over the top. Everyone gave their best. Some can perceive it as cringe and others can find it bingeable. I am getting messages from Germany, Spain, Brazil and people are enjoying it. The reception is crazy. People are literally commenting that dude I feel you were the most genuine person and you didn’t fake it. Your personality was very genuine. And you were very endearing with Sakshi and how you handled her and that I should be given peace award for that. I feel good about the reception.
Pratham Sharma Feels That Criticism Against IRL Is Unfair
I feel this is wrong. Because if you observe carefully, people from categories took part in this. Someone was a doctor, someone was a basketball player, someone was air hostess. It was like everyone looked glamourous. I felt like there were normal people in the show as well. For example, I am an actor and I have a great physique. That’s my personal choice. How the casting directors selected the contestants, it’s their perspective. But again, it’s Netflix so you would expect glamourous people gracing the show. They wanted to show the realistic side and at the same time, they wanted to capture the attention of the viewers.
Pratham Sharma On Online Vs Offline Dating
I tell you a very interesting thing. When they selected me for the online dating thing, I hesitated so much. I asked them to take me for offline because I am a people’s person. I like to be upfront and interact in person and win over people. It’s my forte and I like it. I am an offline person. But they were like your online game is best. But they did so much research on me. It could have happened that if they had selected me for offline, I wouldn’t have been able to open up. They specially said that you are the best online gut they’ve seen in their lives. You’re the best texting guy. So for me, offline is better. Like you saw, online didn’t work for me. It’s not my cup of tea.
Pratham Sharma Talks About His Future Plans
I gave an audition for a movie and I have bagged a very good role for it. I am doing it with Sohum Rockstar Productions. I can’t disclose much about it at the moment but the genre is mafia. It’s a wonderful story with lots of twists and turns. The shooting is about to start and my schedule kicks off from May 12. There are some big actors part of this film and you’ll get to know about it eventually.