Chances are, you probably known someone — or three someones — who resemble the characters depicted in Shai Hussain’s new web series, Three Shades of Brown.
There’s Nas, a wannabe DJ who identifies more with black culture than his own and prefers to live off of his parents’ wealth rather than making his own way in the world. Ravi is an immigrant who assumes his life will play out like his favorite Bollywood films and is completely surprised when it doesn’t. Harry’s straight-laced nature is a hallmark of his South Asian upbringing, but his connection to his culture goes little beyond that.
The characters represent three common stereotypes found in the South Asian community, dubbed the “rude boy” — Nas, played by Muzz Khan (Four Lions), the “freshie” — Ravi, played by Omar Khan (Yeh Jawaani Hain Deewani) and the “coconut” — Harry, played by Navinder Bhatti (Amar, Akbar & Tony) within the series. They find themselves forced together in the premiere episode, which sees Harry moving in with Nas at the suggestion of mutual pal Ravi.
The first episode, “I Live in a Penthouse” showcased the actors’ comedic chops, with Omar Khan (Ravi) in particular scoring laughs with his teary-eyed sing-a-long to “Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua” at the behest of his cab driver. But whether the series will strike a chord with viewers depends on how quickly it can get away from mining laughs out of stereotypes and how well these three disparate characters can gel together, hopefully learning from each other and becoming more well-rounded individuals.
The series is executive produced by Pulkit Datta, whose most recent short, Acetate Diary, was an official selection at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Given Three Shades of Brown’ s excellent pedigree, I hope to see good things from future episodes.
Kiran Hefa is a New York City-based writer and editor who is as equally passionate about Sex and the City as she is about Star Wars. Her pop culture commentary can be found on Twitter @kiranhefa.