Aseem Chowdhary: ‘Rishi Sunak is not representing us. Not even Priti Patel. They don’t have sympathy’

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‘I would never have been cast as the bad guy. Everybody says I have a good boy’ (Picture Credit: Dominic Marley)

Aseem Chowdhary is winning, moaning, lagging behind. I haven’t done anything terrible to him – he’s just thinking about the worst impressions he’s heard of Chubby G, a comedy creation who stole scenes in the hit BBC mockumentary people just do nothing And Chowdhary earned two BAFTA nominations. Chabaddi Ji is a highly ambitious yet inept Pakistani entrepreneur who runs several businesses including an internet cafe, a champagne steam room, and the pirate radio station at the center of the show, Kurup FM. Fans love him. And they like to try to be him.

“In my opinion, if you do an accent well, it can never be racist,” says Choudhury. “I’ve had blondes come over and do great Chabaddi ji accents, and what makes me say that they took the time to research the role, there’s a level of respect, in detail. But I’ve also had people close to me. Told to come and be like that” – he puts out a hoarse, OTT Asian voice – “‘I’m chubby!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my god. Pause.’ Chabaddi’s tone isn’t just Pakistani. It’s Patois, it’s Del Boy, it’s really how the people of Hounslow [in west London] chat. If you can recognize those nuances, that’s amazing. I’ll never get angry if someone pronounces well – even an average one is fine – this is what happens when someone does one they The ones, I’m like, ‘Stop!!!’”

The 35-year-old is on video call from an apartment in Oslo, where he is filming an adaptation of Gulrej Sharif’s best-selling Norwegian novel. Listen! – He plays the uncle of a second generation Pakistani boy in the city. Choudhury loves Oslo, even though “you have to be a millionaire to get out of here”, but is missing from home. “When you’re away for work and you look back and look at what’s happening at home, it’s like, If I died this would be it,” he says. “Life just goes on like this. I keep looking on Instagram like, ‘You f***ers, you’re coping, right?’” He lives with his fiancée in Ealing, where he grew up in Hounslow. “I’m a fan of my people. I like to be close—but not so close,” he says with a smile. “Otherwise I tell everyone from school to come to me, ‘Ah bruh, you’re famous! Include me!’ I’m like, ‘What’s involved? are you an actor Author?’ They go, ‘I don’t know bro, I’ll do anything! Security!’” He burst into laughter. “I don’t need protection.”

Choudhury proudly wears a black and purple Newcastle football shirt. His head is shaved, but he has grown a mustache for the Norwegian film, which he can’t resist giving an ironic stroke. A smile is often dancing down her lips, and there is a deep softness to it that is strangely comforting even through the screen.

we are here to talk the Sandman — the very expensive fantasy epic based on the comics of Neil Gaiman, on Netflix this week — in which Chowdhury plays Abel, a man who is constantly melting over the cuteness of baby gargoyles. When we first meet him on the show, he’s telling his pet gargoyle who’s running around on the roof of his house. “Gregory, get down there right now,” he says, struggling to be tough. “You’re going to slip and hurt yourself.” Choudhury initially auditioned to play Abel’s murdered brother, Cain, but he seemed too sweet. “I was trying to face my worst,” says Choudhary. “But I was never cast as the bad guy. Everyone says I have the face of a good man.” He’s also the spit of Abel in Gaiman’s original comics: all wide eyes and a jet black beard. “My ego was so out of control that I thought Netflix portrayed me as Abel for promotion,” he says. “Then I realized what he really looked like.”

The role of Cain eventually went to Sanjeev Bhaskar, whom Choudhary grew up watching in sketch shows of the nineties. goodness gracious Me. Chowdhary says, “He is my comedy hero. “Growing up, there weren’t many people who looked like me on TV — other than the weird shopper in a sitcom and the weirdest dodgy, racist joke. But see goodness gracious Me, it was like, wow, that’s what you call representation — a wonderfully funny sitcom written by Asians.” He points to a role-reversal sketch, about an Indian family “going for an English one” and Ordering the softest thing on the menu as one of my favorites. “It was a change,” he says. “It wasn’t just British white people laughing at Asians because they spoke funny. It was amazing working with Sanjeev and I told him all these things. And he was like, ‘But you are the same to your generation!’ I felt proud. I thought, this is the hard work you can get, you get a chance to work with your heroes.”

Baby Gargoyle Goldie and Asim Choudhary’s Abel in ‘The Sandman’ (Netflix)

Choudhary is working hard. Over the years, she has starred opposite Stephen Merchant in the hilarious Christmas comedy click and collect As a nightmare neighbor and agent of chaos. He also appeared in Steve Coogan’s money satire. greedAs a character named “Frank the Lion Tamer”, he played a software company owner in the famous “Bandersnatch” episode of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian masterpiece. black Mirror, and appeared in Superhero Blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 As a museum worker named Roger.

But the character he’ll always be synonymous with is Chabaddi G – and his most famous line: “People ask what ‘G’ means. I tell them: Gucci, girls, Perimeter.” Chabaddi also has his own book: how to be a man, Tagline? “Eat like me, dress like me, love like me, smell like me.”

When it came to Chowdhary, he did not have to go far for Prerna. “My dad was a wheeler-dealer – he still is. He had an internet cafe – it was called Global Communications and it had two small computers. He had a minicab office. He had an Indian takeaway. He had an Italian restaurant, but only for six months because all the chefs were Indian. His garlic bread, I swear to god, had garlic paste on it. I was like, ‘Dad, just call it Fusion.’ He was like, ‘No! It’s Italian, it’s authentic.’ He is a lovely man, an eternal optimist like Chabaddi and an absolute charmer. Everyone knows Chaudhary’s father. When Choudhury was walking down a street in Oslo, a Pakistani man selling mangoes came up to him and told him that he knew his father. It is learned that he had sold her mangoes 20 years back. “My father probably told him that I was there,” says Chaudhary. “He is very proud. He goes to the people and asks, ‘Do you know Chabaddi ji? This is my son!’”

He laughs. “The best part is that my father thinks Chabaddi is a really great guy. He doesn’t see the confused part. He’s like, ‘What do you mean? He’s a smart guy! A businessman!’” Ever do a TV show with your father?” We were all set to do it… We had the perfect pitch for it: Meet the real Chabdi ji. But I don’t know, I don’t want anything to affect our personal relationships. maybe in the future. He goes on about it all the time. ,

Chowdhury’s wheeler dealer Chabaddi ji in ‘People Just Do Nothing’ (BBC)

When I met Chowdhary people just do nothing The co-producers – Alan Mustafa, Hugo Chegwin and Steve Stamp – were all making music, while at the College of London. And Chowdhary had been a war rapper during his secondary school days. During the lockdown, he decided to go back to his “roots” and released a hip-hop track, “Brown Skin (Sink Him)”, examining the British-Asian feel. “I thought it would be a good eye-opener for some people,” he says. “I went to a school that was probably 85 percent South Asian and we didn’t know anything about our past.”

In the song, Choudhary raps about the “f***ery” from “Maggie Tories”. He also tweets a lot about them. What does he think about destroying each other in the leadership contest these past few weeks? “If I were a younger man, I would laugh,” he says. “But actually I feel quite sad. I feel for us as the British public, as taxpayers. We are the laughing stock. People in Norway call Boris the Joker. But he is our leader – he The person who makes the biggest decisions that affect our lives. There is such a lack of empathy in British politics. And with Rishi Sunak, I don’t think he would win, but, if you told me 25 years ago that an Asian staple Minister, I would have been like, ‘You’re smoking.’ But it doesn’t look like that. It’s not representation. Because he’s not representing us. Priti Patel doesn’t represent us. She doesn’t have sympathy. They’re not the people I want my kids to see. Just like that. They got there, through lies, horrible behavior, bullying. It’s not how you win, it’s not how you get to the top.”

Elsewhere in the song, Chowdhary raps: “That’s where they found him / Downstairs / Put out with brown skin / That’s how they made fun of him.” He now says that, for years, he was feared because of the color of his skin – something that was intensified when, in the wake of the 7/7 attacks in London, Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes was killed. The police had shot. He was wrongly suspected of being a terrorist. “There was a lot of police after the attacks and it was really intimidating,” says Chowdhury. What if I’m running for it because I’m late? Will I be shot and killed? It was a really scary time.”

Chowdhary and Stephen Merchant as mismatched neighbors in ‘Click and Collect’ (BBC)

At that time Chaudhary was in a bus to London. “I had a bag and I was sweaty and I had a big beard,” he says. “This lady was there and she was not moving, looking at my bag, looking at me. It made me feel like a terrorist. When he reached in his bag to get something, he collapsed. “It was funny,” he says, “but it wasn’t just him. I could feel the weird energy throughout the bus. It really made me feel like getting off the bus and walking. I was just a teenager but a lot.” Quickly I got used to behaving like this. Things have changed a bit now. We understand about stereotyping and profiling, but it’s still there. I only knew the post-9/11 world as an adult I only know how to look like the guy you should be afraid of. It’s painful. It really makes you stay with, ‘Oh, I’m this weird, dangerous person.’ Actually, I’m just a normal person like you.”

“Now, if people are staring, it’s over for Chabaddi.” He laughs in disbelief at how his perception has flipped. “They are staring because they want a picture. Nice stuff to unpack with my therapist.”

‘The Sandman’ releasing on Netflix on Friday, August 5