21st Love is one of the most watched Nepali web series on YouTube today. The first episode, that was aired about three months ago, now has over 1.5 million views. The popularity of the sitcom is primarily because of its storyline that portrays the many realities of Kathmandu youths. The sitcom revolves around issues of love, romance, friendship, and college life. The direction, cinematography, and acting have also been well appreciated. The Week’s Swasti Gautam caught up with Samyog Guragain and Anushka Adhikari, two of the most popular artists of 21st Love, to find out how it all started. Read on to find out how their journey is as dramatic as the sitcom itself.
How it all began
Both Guragain and Adhikari never thought they would get into acting. Adhikari remembers the time when a photo of her holding the Nepali flag went viral on social media. That was during the in the Indian blockade in 2015. Following that she was called to act in a documentary made by UNICEF. Working on the documentary made her realize that she actually liked being in front of the camera.
“That’s how I got into modeling and acting,” says Adhikari who is currently pursuing a bachelors’ degree in filmmaking. Now, for this 18-year-old, acting is not just a hobby or profession. She says it’s her life and she cannot live without it.
Guragain, who plays the role of Adhikari’s best friend in the web series, had a completely different story to share. He came from Ilam to Kathmandu with his father to pursue his higher studies. But little did his father know that Guragain had in him an irreplaceable love for acting since his first street play during the eighth standard.
Guragain decided to take up acting classes after watching his first drama at Mandala Theater in Kathmandu. But, sadly, he did not have enough money to get admission into an acting workshop. So he used the money he had for his college admissions to enroll himself in an acting workshop at Mandala Theater. That was the beginning of his acting career.
Adhikari recollects leaving the valley after auditioning for 21st Love. “When I got a call saying I had been selected for the role, I thought it was a prank. I didn’t take it seriously,” she says adding that the first time she heard the plot of the story she knew it was going to make an impact on people.
Adhikari, who plays the character of a tomboy, has been able to set many fashion trends in Kathmandu. Her bandana, nose ring, and sneakers have inspired thousands of her female fans. “I usually get comments and messages saying that seeing me their parents now think it’s normal to not fit in the gendered norms,” says Adhikari who is glad that her character is making some real impact in the society.
Guragain, on the other hand, has also become extremely popular on social media. Many have taken to copying his eyebrow slit and unique hairstyle. “I always try to give a unique touch to the character I’m playing. The hairstyle was my attempt to make the character and his personality stand out,” says Guragain confessing he is elated when his fans send him pictures of them with the same hairstyle as his character.
According to Adhikari, one of the reasons for the success of their sitcom is the hard work and effort that every member puts in while producing each episode. She says the plot is discussed, improvised, and rewritten many times. Sometimes their scriptwriter sits with each character and discusses their dialogues in order to build the character into a stronger one.
“When there are too many characters, it becomes difficult for the scriptwriter to develop each character. That is when we, as actors, try to build on our own characters,” say Guragain.
Guragain claims he will never give up acting. It’s his first love and will remain so. “I have been acting for four years now and I can’t imagine a life where I’m not an actor,” he says. Having survived through the toughest of times, Guragain now knows that he can adjust to any kind of situation. Failure doesn’t scare him anymore and he won’t let success make him complacent. Acting makes him happy and he will focus on honing his craft for the rest of his life.
However, Adhikari wishes that were true for her too. She laments that life of a female actor is very short in Nepal, and that they often stop getting substantial roles after the age of 30. So, to work on a backup career, she intends to study law after her bachelors. But that’s not to say that she isn’t passionate about acting. For now, she is focused on 21st Love and intends to make the most of the creative space it has given her.