Indian actor Vihaan Samat’s new show ‘Eternally Confused And Eager For Love’ does what it says exactly on its tin. As the title of the Netflix eight-episode series suggests, it taps into millennial angst and charts the journey of a socially awkward twenty-something who’s simply desperate for love, acceptance, and finding his soulmate.
This single-fearful-to-mingle adult isn’t your usual confident hero in a romantic comedy. In fact, he’s painfully shy around women, blurts out inappropriate remarks in social company and is hugely dependent on an imaginary friend Wiz to help him navigate his love life. Wiz is his biggest confidante despite his sardonic wit and acidic humour.
“It’s a 100 per cent human story that everyone can relate to …There’s friendships, romance, family problems … And Ray keeps messing up,” said Samat in an interview with Gulf News.
Directed by Rahul Nair, whom Samat describes as one of the most assured and democratic directors in the entertainment scene today, the series is mostly in English and also features Rahul Bose and Suchitra Pillai as his doting-yet-domineering parents. They are fairly wealthy and belong to the privileged bracket of city-bred Indians who have the heft to send their children to the US for college education. Ray is that privileged young man, who may be employed but has yet to open his account when it comes to his love life.
“I am one of those men in their twenties or early thirties who haven’t got everything figured out … He isn’t a guy who knows what to do exactly in every situation,” said Samat.
Here’s the Samat’s take on …
His Netflix show:
“It’s a must-watch for all ages. It’s a young adult romantic comedy about a twenty-something just trying to find love and trying to figure out his relationships with his parents, his friends, and his romantic life. Ray is guided by this toy Wiz [voice of Jim Sarbh] who sometimes helps or doesn’t help him through that journey. We are able to delve into this guy’s mind and figure out what it is to be like at his age. Like the title suggests, he’s totally confused and eager for love. It’s highly binge-able series.”
His character’s desperate attempts to fall in love and find his soulmate:
“I wish I could tell that to Ray who’s so desperate to figure everything out. I want to sometimes tell him to just stop and that everything will fall into place. But the truth of the matter is that Ray is in his own world, and he genuinely feels he needs all those things figured out in his life rapidly … There are a lot of people like Ray in today’s world who are in a hurry. When I was younger, I had similar anxieties and nervous conversations about figuring out life. I think there’s something in there in this series for everyone to relate to. It is definitely relatable but it’s a little bit extreme. But regardless, I think everyone will understand what it’s like to be in that situation of wanting to find someone in their life.”
Tackling the complex issue of mental health such as anxiety and social awkwardness in the series:
“It is a major talking point in our show … This is a series where you just can’t go to a set and just shoot as an actor and assume that we know everything about him. We did a lot of work and workshops before the filming began. We had a lot of discussions over the phone and in person, because Ray constantly speaks to an inanimate object and that can be caused by various factors. Perhaps Ray is lonely or needs someone to talk to. Perhaps, he needs an anchor and that’s how it all began. A lot of workshops were all about figuring out Ray and where his anxiety and awkwardness comes from. It was an important link and those discussions were going to be with me for the entire show. Our acting workshop conductor Rashid was very good. He asked me to take Wiz home and just form a relationship with the inanimate figure. Talking to him and having conversations with him helped me feel like it’s a second nature. We worked on having a synergy between us.”
Being a part of a series where characters speak mostly English and not Hindi:
“I am used to performing in Hindi and English, so it wasn’t a big issue. I just a saw a story that I genuinely liked and I wanted to do it any cost. I auditioned for it and it focused on giving it my best when it came to the character and the language. And I had no fear that it will sound Shakespearean or stagey … And with all these online platforms flourishing, you can now make a show in a language that you find such characters in real life … For instance, when I talk to my friends I speak in English and I believe my character always thought in English in his head too.”
His character’s crippling quarter-life crises:
“Ray’s problems are very human problems. He’s trying to find love and deal with his low self-esteem. Somewhere he’s trying to make a connection and trying to get over his own insecurities. We all have problems like how to deal with overbearing parents too … Everyone will be able to relate to this show because it’s a relatable, human story.”
Doing comedy ….
“When I was younger I had this instinct for learning how to figure out how to make things awkward … But I had to dial up those instincts from one per cent to 100 per cent … This role required me to do a lot of improv. And what excited me is that I saw a story that was fresh and well-written … The writing was compellingly honest and my character didn’t follow certain tropes. “
His career in the Indian entertainment scene:
“I have waited for such a series all my life and I was ready to do what was required. I have acted in ‘Mismatched’ and acted with Michael Keaton too … I am happy that makers like Rahul are making content. I have already done three shows on Netflix and I feel welcomed. There’s a space for everyone and the scripts will click … This is the golden age of entertainment. And audiences can decide what they want to want and the actors can do what they want to do and the creators can do the same now. It’s a whole new world and it’s a great time for us.”
Don’t miss it
‘Eternally Confused And Eager For Love’ is out on Netflix now