Bigg Boss fame Sidharth Bhardwaj reveals the reason behind leaving India; says, “Nobody took me seriously here”
Sidharth Bhardwaj who made his debut in showbiz with Splitsvilla 2 emerged as a winner in the show. He was later seen in Bigg Boss 5 where he was the second runner-up. He also did Khatron Ke Khiladi 6 but things didn’t quite turn out for him in India the way he expected.
Sidharth who moved to LA to pursue a career in stand-up comedy talked about it and shared what made him leave India and revamp his career plan.
He said, “I wanted to do stand-up comedy even when I was in Mumbai four-five years back. I had a friend and I told her that I want to do stand-up. I felt I was born for it. I have been a very fun-loving and funny guy in the group. But due to other work commitments, I could not pursue it. I saw a good stand-up scene when I came to the US. I thought putting my experience of being a first-generation immigrant in his 30s is very interesting. I am starting from scratch here. Lockdown gave me the chance to work on content. That’s how it happened.”
Talking about his first experience of being on the stage as a stand-up comic, Sidharth said, “I won’t lie but I was nervous. If you are not nervous then you are not doing something that is worth it. With my other shows in India, I was always on stage. So being on stage was not something I did for the first time. But going on stage to get laughs, that was something I had never done before. My first act went well and I received a good response. After that, a few shows fell flat.”
On moving to America, he shared, “It was always on my mind for the past 6-7 years. I would tell my friends Nikhil (Chinapa), Raghu (Ram) that I want to go to LA and work. But at that time there was no concrete plan in my mind. I didn’t know anybody back then. I also got a call from a matchmaking show on an OTT platform. But they wanted to shoot with me in India. And I had done that kind of stuff in the past. I am not interested in being on TV to find love. I knew a couple of people here but they were of no help. I applied for a tourist visa and they looked me up on Google and asked my reason to visit. I said I wanted to go on a holiday with my mom. They gave me the visa in 5 mins. I came here and fell in love with the place. I started to connect with people. I am not a known face here. Anybody who comes here, if you are not Priyanka Chopra, you have to do other jobs to pay your bills. You have to do what it takes to make it somewhere. I know a lot of mediocre celebrities from India, who have come here and gone back in 3-4 months. Today I am in a great position. I have a green card and next year around this time, I would be able to file for citizenship. But that will depend on if I want to give up my Indian citizenship.”
He added, “I had a knee injury last year. I had the injury before I started stand-up and then the surgery happened after a few stand-up shows. They wanted me to rest and not move out for 2-3 months. In any art form, if you take that break just after starting out, you are going to get rusty. I picked up my crutches and went to do the shows. I did less but did not stop. I felt people sympathized with me because I was on my crutches. I didn’t want sympathy.”
When asked about how he deals with the trolls, he replied, “This is something really interesting. When you come from India, you have to talk to Americans in a certain way so that the jokes land. You have to roll your ‘R’s and stuff like that. But the Indians, they don’t understand and they would mock my accent and call it ‘fake’. In America, there is nothing called a fake accent. People from various parts of the world come and talk here to blend in so there is nothing called a ‘fake’ accent. So people started trolling me. Some would also say ‘Your jokes are not funny’, ‘You shouldn’t be a stand-up comedian’. I would get so many messages. But my jokes are not for them. You can pick your finger and tap on the ‘unfollow’ button. I make jokes with American references and people here connect with it and the Indian audience can’t. It’s not for them. In general, I find it very stupid.”
When asked if being known in this unknown land would have helped him, Sid said, “I wasn’t known in India. I had the opportunity to give my best shot in Hollywood. In India, I was known but mujhe kaun kaam de raha tha in the mainstream. Everybody wanted 21 saal ka Sidharth, who was an angry young man in Splitsvilla. I was 21, but now I am 30. I have grown up as an artist. Wherever I would go for work, everybody would want the Sidharth from Splitsvilla and Bigg Boss. I am not that person. I wanted to grow up in life.”
He added, “Bigg Boss didn’t give me big money because they understood I was in need of the show. I was like don’t give me money but don’t lie at least. My financial condition was decent because I did reality shows and was getting events. I was never a rich guy in India. It is expensive and there’s always some kind of exploitation going on. When I started working as a VJ, things became a bit better than how my life was at a call center. But what I was earning was flowing out as well.”
Talking about his life after Bigg Boss, he shared, “Life did change for me after Bigg Boss because I became a household name. But Sid from Bigg Boss became so overpowering that everybody just wanted that! That wasn’t acting. People liked me fighting in the house, which was a reaction to situations back there. People would tell me, ‘Bring Sid from Bigg Boss’. How do I bring it? Give me a script, I will act it out. I was stereotyped. I had neck tattoos and producers envisioned me as a villain. I removed my tattoos. They have different thoughts. They would only want to work with star kids because they have big PR budgets. They don’t want to work with somebody who can be good. They don’t want to give a chance to newcomers but that’s ok. I am in a better position than that.”
Further talking about his experience with Bigg Boss, he said, “The only content in Bigg Boss is fighting with each other. Everyone has to present their point in a limited time. You wake up and go to sleep with negativity. You are each other’s jaan ki dushman. Our time was very different. Mental health is a very important aspect in the show. Akashdeep Saigal pagal ho gaya, Pooja Missra pagal hogayi, main bhi hil gaya tha. Ho jaata hai when you get free money and other things. But it’s a very difficult game format.”