Sushant Adlahka

Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In the premiere edition of 2021, we sit down with Sushant Adlakha, an actor and filmmaker from Mumbai, India.


Currently based in New York City, NY, Sushant has collaborated with Buzzfeed, Comedy Central, Condé Nast, Seventeen, and Tinder, as well as acting in numerous award-winning short films, web series, and podcasts.


"Art has the power to transform, to illuminate, to educate, inspire and motivate"

What inspires you and your creative process?

The biggest inspiration is the urge to say something or present an idea, but keeping in mind that just a Tweet isn't enough. Creating something is usually a way for me to explain my complicated feelings to equally complicated people. When it comes to actually starting the creative process, I love watching other movies and interviews of people behind those movies. Hopefully, I’ll learn and take some useful knowledge or an idea into my next project.



Is there a connection between your art and social justice/activism?

Before I ever got started, I wasn't expecting anything I do to have anything to do with social justice, but I think it's because I underestimated how important art is even on a subconscious level. A lot of the roles I have been cast in surround either South Asian representation or issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community and it's a big responsibility in our time even if you're playing a regular guy who is "incidentally" Indian. Also, HUGE fan of immigration stories. Man, they're just... weird.


What inspired you to pursue your art? What were the challenges you overcame in the process?

As a kid, the glamour of it seemed cool. I mean, what kid doesn't want to be famous? But the real pursuit began when I first took on an acting gig and just thought it was incredibly fun. Not to be reductive, but the idea that you can play for a living is still nuts to me. I didn't have much training or film school experience before I got started and so I was always hesitant to open my mouth or bring any of my ideas to a room because I felt like I was just there to learn. Over time, I realized I'll probably never stop learning and also that creative works are only better with fresh, unique, and different ideas, so becoming part of those conversations really helped me get comfortable working with other creative people.


What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists?

When people appreciate what you do or tell you things like "I needed that" or "that made my day", especially when it's not someone you know who takes the time to reach out, it's a good reminder of why you do what you do. I'd advise future artists to chase that but also not be discouraged when that's not happening. There's always downtime. There's always alone time. There's A LOT of alone time. But that's usually the time when some of the best ideas come around and ultimately makes it all worth it.


What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists?

When people appreciate what you do or tell you things like "I needed that" or "that made my day", especially when it's not someone you know who takes the time to reach out, it's a good reminder of why you do what you do. I'd advise future artists to chase that but also not be discouraged when that's not happening. There's always downtime. There's always alone time. There's A LOT of alone time. But that's usually the time when some of the best ideas come around and ultimately makes it all worth it.


Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging artists like yourself?

Literally just watching their stuff, giving feedback, and, if you're that interested, asking how you can be of help. Creating things is very complex and any artist could benefit anywhere from a listening ear to a financier, it really depends on where they are.


How have you spent the past few pandemic months? What can aspiring artists do now to follow in your path?

I got a little lucky because I had started filming a documentary a few months before the pandemic - so I had a lot of interviews and footage to work with to essentially "write" the film. In addition, acting over Zoom is an incredibly tough, but fun challenge. While many productions are taking good precautions and if you're comfortable with the safety of those then nothing like it, but this is definitely a good time to plan what you want to do, write the next project, have the next conversation with a friend and see what you can do together.


Sushant plays the lead, Samir, in the hit audio series Caravan, recently named one of the “Top 5 Podcasts at the Intersection of Pride Month and the BLM Movement” by the New York Times.


Any upcoming projects, gigs, shows, events, that readers should keep an eye out for?

If you like Comedy Central, there's a show coming up in March in which I pop in for about a minute. Additionally, the second season of a web series 'Don't Suck' as well as an audio fiction series 'Caravan' are both going to go into production soon. Each of their first seasons were well received and definitely typecast me as a polite, gay man who is secretly in love with the protagonist and not-so-secretly sexually frustrated. Finally, I'm also going to be filming the partly-"fictional" elements of my documentary 'Going Nowhere' which focuses on the experience of international students in America. I'll get to play myself or at least a cool version of myself which is honestly really f*cking hard.



Thank you for your continuous support and kindness in this extraordinary times. Stay safe! Lots of love, #Team IVA Interview by conducted & written by Naomi Segal

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