Meet ‘Never Have I Ever’s’ new love curiosity: Anirudh Pisharody

This story comprises spoilers for “Never Have I Ever” Season 3.

A serious debate amongst followers of “Never Have I Ever,” Netflix’s teen dramedy created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, is who lead Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) ought to date.Ought to she go for the brains (Jaren Lewison’s Ben, who by no means left a scrap of additional credit score on the desk)? Or the brawn (Darren Barnet’s ab-tastic Paxton Corridor-Yoshida)?

However the present’s third season, which releases all 10 episodes on Friday, presents a special quandary: Why not discover somebody who’s a little bit little bit of each?

This season introduces actor Anirudh Pisharody as Des, a teen from a rival highschool who’s each handsome and good — he even will get his personal John Hughes-movie model, slo-mo entrance. Des meets Devi at a celebration and bowls her over together with his appeal and mind whereas additionally making her verify her personal biases.

“As a creator who is making content with South Asian characters, I felt like we hadn’t been able to see an object of desire in a young Indian guy,” Kaling says. “That is something that, growing up, I had a lot of complicated feelings on. We talked about this unconscious bias about Indian men. And I think it was freeing and great to be able to showcase that.”

Fisher says that Pisharody “exuded a relaxed confidence when he was reading the part that just made him feel like ‘yeah, Devi would be attracted to this guy because he’s so comfortable in his skin. When he comes into a room he owns it, but in an effortless way.”

Pisharody, 28, will let you know that was hardly the vibe he was giving off in highschool, describing himself because the “nerdy guy.”

Video-chatting from a lodge room in New Mexico, the place he’s filming his upcoming activate the third season of ABC’s crime drama “Big Sky,” Pisharody mentioned the notion of South Asian males on-screen, reliving the highschool expertise, and saying his identify.

You’re not a teen. Is it bizarre to exit for teenage roles?

I positively have that age vary the place it’s between 18 to 30. However, as a result of I’ve a youthful look, I get to move off as, like, 17. There’s been some tasks the place the position will likely be 14 or 15. And people I’m like, OK, this can be a bit too younger.

You’ve described this position as a “nontraditional” character in one other interview. When Des and Devi meet, she is shocked at how assured and charming he’s. She was anticipating a dork. Was this position completely different from different roles you’ve seen? How does Des differ from the way you had been in highschool?

It’s very uncommon for you to have the ability to play any character that’s fully subversive of that “model minority” stereotype. I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in different roles, as effectively, that aren’t conventional Indian characters. However plenty of them have been, , whether or not it’s a brief movie or a industrial factor, a really Indian man who labored in an workplace or a health care provider.

From the get-go, Devi initially thinks, “Oh, my God, he’s a loser.” However then he’s speaking about how his buddy stopped speaking to him as a result of he attached with a lady he likes. And the truth that he talks about being on the controversy crew and that he’s in style in highschool they usually’d be harsh on the jocks … Clearly, I’m not in highschool anymore. However once I was in highschool [popularity] was positively [not] related to these teams. And, particularly being an Indian individual, I can’t consider any of my mates who had been residing the standard American highschool life.

Terry Hu, left, as Addison, Deacon Phillippe as Parker, Anirudh Pisharody as Nirdesh, and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in a scene from “Never Have I Ever.”

(Lara Solanki/Netflix)

Is that this a cathartic second then since you get to relive your highschool years?

(Laughs) It’s positively an f— you to all of the jocks and the favored youngsters again in highschool. It feels good. It was very cathartic.

There was an MTV scripted present known as “Awkward” that was additionally set in highschool. One of many characters as soon as mentioned that Asian youngsters can both be a “cool Asian or a school Asian.” Do you assume that’s true? Particularly with regard to casting?

I believe the brief reply could be yeah. There’s a particular demarcation of the place that character’s boundaries start and finish. However there’s that film that got here out this yr, “Senior Year.” I solely noticed a little bit little bit of it. And from what I noticed, that was positively attempting to separate that entire side about what cool is and what cool isn’t. I really feel prefer it’s going to be inevitable that there’s all the time going to be an “othering” course of relying on what the challenge is [and] particularly in a excessive school-type challenge the place the jokes are primarily based on completely different cliques.

However, in my expertise, casting is like that. It’s very stratified.

After they meet, Des tells Devi she’s most likely “one of those Indian girls who only likes white guys and thinks all Indian dudes are just computer geeks.” Provided that, how do you’re feeling about how the season ended?

I need to say Devi ought to give Des one other probability. However on the identical time, I get it.

(Editor’s notice: Fisher confirmed that Des isn’t coming again for the present’s fourth, and ultimate, season as a result of the story’s stepping into one other path. Nevertheless, she says, “we definitely thought about it” and that “there were several people in our writers’ room who were Team Des”).

Because the collection goes on, we see that Des isn’t all the time assured amongst his mates and that he’s not all the time this take-charge form of man. Why was that vital to point out?

We’re all the time attempting to interrupt — particularly lately — that perfection fable. Most characters are going to be, at some stage, messy. It’s not ever only a good sphere … The entire thought, not less than for me, was we’re attempting to point out you can be a extra mental individual — a nerdy man, so to talk — however nonetheless be attractive on the identical time. That doesn’t imply that they’re simply this cocky know-it-all.

It will get over issues like poisonous masculinity the place [there’s an attitude that] I all the time should puff up my chest and have a stiff higher lip. It’s OK to be like “this is how I’m feeling” and verbalize it.

That is additionally completely different from the best way that Des presents himself to his mother, (performed by “To All the Boys …” actress Sarayu Blue). She thinks he’s this good, angel baby.

There’s a conventional trope of Indian boys and their mothers. I believe they [the writers] had been actually attempting to hit on that angle and [show again that] he’s not good. He’s mendacity to himself. He’s mendacity to his household.

This season, Deacon Phillippe performs one in all your character’s mates. His mother, Reese Witherspoon, is an efficient buddy of Kaling’s. Did you get an opportunity to speak about his experiences working within the trade versus yours?

He was very open about it. He was, like, I positively have benefited from this. Let’s not beat across the bush about it. However he mentioned he nonetheless does the auditions … he was very grounded and really grateful to be there. That positively confirmed. There was no stage of like, “I deserve this” or “I’m born to do this.”

Des and Devi additionally focus on Anglicizing Indian names. You made a TikTok tutorial on easy methods to pronounce your first identify. So, I assume that scene notably resonated with you.

Positively. Even inside the Indian neighborhood, there’s a stage … In case you go by “Raj” — and I’m not attempting to diminutize or something — it’s pretty simple to get in. There’s one or two methods they’ll pronounce your identify and, more often than not, they get it proper. With “Anirudh,” rising up, they’d add all kinds of letters. To begin with, in my head, I used to be pondering “how did you even get to that point?.” Secondly, I used to be like I’m gonna clarify to you easy methods to do it.” So, that’s the place the TikTok got here from.

That was me taking again my identify as a result of, for a very long time, I glided by Andy. And that was positively simply my “white” identify. So, all all through faculty and the primary couple years I used to be performing, I used to be simply going by Andy. It was simpler. However I used to be positively mendacity to myself.

It appears such as you filmed that video on the set of your earlier job, Fox’s “9-1-1.” Was that accomplished purposefully?

(Laughs) One of many the reason why I did that was as a result of my hair was accomplished and I appeared presentable. However that positively had an angle to it. It was higher to try this there versus in my room. It could garner much more gravitas to it and have extra resonation to it. It’s essential for me to point out that I’m working.

I noticed the web site for the manufacturing firm you run along with your spouse, director-producer Jill V. Dae, and your contact data had “Andy” in it.

Sadly, oftentimes, when my spouse and I’d method buyers … once I did use “Andy,” I’d simply get much more responses. And even once I would ship emails that mentioned “Anirudh,” they might get it fallacious. Even when the identify is correct there.

Is your plan to do extra producing within the long-term?

I’d actually like to. As a result of my performing has actually taken off up to now few years, that’s positively the place most of my focus goes to. Something my spouse is spearheading, I’m all the time hooked up to as a producer and doing what I can.

Have you despatched any of your tasks to Kaling? She has a media firm centered on discovering, and creating, tasks from numerous artists.

I do know I may ship it. However it’s been a trepidation on my finish. I really feel like I don’t have the power. I don’t assume I’m in that place but the place I can fully try this now as a result of I’ve tried producing and performing earlier than and it’s simply so tough.

You’re at present filming the brand new season of “Big Sky.” Your character’s been described merely as a “city slicker.” What does that imply?

I can’t give away an excessive amount of, however he’s somebody who’s simply not nature-oriented … He’s by no means the sort to go outdoor and go tenting, or — hell — even go to Montana.