I Am Starstruck speaks exclusively with Australian-Indian actor Rohan Mirchandaney
If you’re up for a bit of a laugh and an advocate of diversity, the new web series ‘How To Talk Australians’ will be right up your alley.. This series shows Indian migrants learning how to assimilate into Australian society with wit and clever comedy thrown into the production mix.
Created by Australian film director Tony Rogers and writer Rob Hibber, the comedy is a fun parody of bogan stereotypes Down Under.
Since its release a few weeks ago, the web series has made headlines around Australia and sparked mixed reactions.
One of the stars of the web series is Australian-Indian actor and reality star Rohan Mirchandaney.
The 2013 Big Brother Australia star spoke to I Am Starstruck not only about the web series, but also multiculturalism in Australia.
Check out the interview below!
I AM STARSTRUCK: Why did you decide to be a part of the web series ‘How To Talk Australians’?
ROHAN: I’m a really huge lover of comedy, so naturally I have a great respect for Tony Rogers & his work.
After reading the scripts I was really impressed. It’s not often I laugh out loud when I read written material but in this case the one liners & black comedy jumped off the page immediately.
As an young actor I auditioned for the role a few years ago. I remember it was initially going to be pitched as an episodic television series. After my audition Tony was impressed with so impressed with my audition that a new character was written just for me.
Over time the format of the show changed and it became more viable as a web series. Characters changed along with the story & I’m glad I was still able to be involved with the project years later!
I loved being able to fuse both of my cultural backgrounds together in the same project and explore the comedic relationship.
I AM STARSTRUCK: Why is this web series important for people to watch?
ROHAN: This web series is important to watch because it’s different.
It’s made by Australian’s for Australians and invites us to do what we do best – have a laugh at ourselves.
The outrageous comedy isn’t to offend at all but share values & differences as well as ridiculous misinterpretations between the two cultures.
Everyone had a ball on set & it’s refreshing to see something Australian that isn’t suburban drama and doesn’t have a whitewash cast comprised of the usual faces.
We’ve got variety here and the talent, so lets see more of it starting with ‘How to Talk Australians’!
I AM STARSTRUCK: The series has sparked mixed reviews. What is your reaction to people saying the show is racist to Australians?
ROHAN: Little do people know that the writer, director and pretty much the entire crew are Caucasian Australians by birth.
Sure the series isn’t going to please everyone but I myself, everyone involved in production, and the large majority of viewers see it for what it is – just an over the top comedic look at cultures & race relations.
People these days seem to be so on edge when it comes to offence whether it be sexism, homophobia & racism and really take to the internet to protest.
I guess it’s a shame those people feel that way but it doesn’t faze me. I could have imagined this may be a reaction from some people and lets be honest pretty much every video on Youtube is accompanied by a flame war in its comments section.
I love the show for its intelligent film-making & writing. I find myself often seeing new things with several re-watches of episodes whether it be something in the background or a new understanding of a line delivered and I’m glad others out there appreciate that too.
I AM STARSTRUCK: If you look at the flip side, would you agree that ethnic minorities are victims of racial abuse in Australian?
ROHAN: Yes absolutely. Racial abuse happens all over the world but it’s no secret that Australia is becoming known for it more than most counties unfortunately.
I AM STARSTRUCK: As someone working in the Australian entertainment industry do you feel your opportunities are lessened by your cultural background?
ROHAN: Yes 100%. I’ve had people respond to my goals of entering the Australian performing arts industry with ‘Wow, good luck’, not to be nasty, but because there is no real precedent for strong well known Indian/Australian actors.
My dad even tried to talk me out of it when I was younger which was sad.
To be completely honest I took the huge risk of trying reality TV in hopes that might improve my chances of being noticed, something that could have easily have gone the other way and negatively impacted me for good.
I spoke to several friends high up in the industry, agents, casting directors and directors to gauge whether it would be a good idea or hurt my future as an actor they all said ‘go for it, it’s an opportunity that not many people get to have’.
Sometimes I feel distraught about the industry & feel I don’t really have a place in it and other times I want to fight.
I often say ‘I have to work twice as hard as everyone else for half the roles available.’ which is a really steep uphill climb.
Something I’m proud to say is since leaving reality TV is I’ve done everything I could to remove it from my profiles and focused primarily on my goals of being an actor, I’ve worked harder than ever & still haven’t lost sight of my goals.
I AM STARSTRUCK: How did it feel to be on Big Brother last year? Were you the first Indian on the Australian series of the reality show?
ROHAN: It felt weird and nothing like what I expected. Yes, I was the first Indian on the series. I think the show having been criticised for its lack of diversity the previous year had something to do with that.
I AM STARSTRUCK: Do you think change needs to be made to some of our local productions/dramas so we see more multiculturalism on our screens?
ROHAN: Yes. Oh my god yes. I actually don’t watch Australian shows because I can’t relate to any of them & don’t enjoy much of the subject matter.
In general Australia doesn’t take many risks with its productions and that’s a huge shame. I think since getting pressure from places like the UK to properly represent our population and culture then we should be taking that as a huge sign.
Maybe I’m biased but it’s frustrating to know not only are we behind the UK and America but even New Zealand in reflecting cultural diversity in local productions and I think that’s really sad.
We’ve only just now introduced our first Indigenous Australian on Neighbours as a series regular after 29 years of the show’s run.
We don’t compete on an international level with our screen entertainment overall – I’ve seen some fantastic independent projects and films but at the end of the day we’re still behind overall.
Check out all of the episodes of How To Talk Australians HERE!