India’s answer to South Park is likely to come from a 33-year-old NRI and self-proclaimed “sarcastic a–hole” named Sandeep Sood. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will soon, because he’s insanely prolific and very funny.
Currently, while running his San Francisco-based software outsourcing firm and shopping his animated series Doubtsourcing to TV execs in LA, he’s writing a comic strip and a new animated series, plus working on a bunch of other stuff he wouldn’t share with us just yet. “Don’t want to jinx it.”
The comic strip, ACK!, is a sort of “mashup” of Amar Chitra Katha comics and the American TV show Jersey Shore. Like most Indian kids, says Sood, “I learned about Hinduism through these hyperbolic comic books, which seems like an insane way to learn about a religion.” He allows that he’s gotten hate mail for the strip as well as accolades, but that’s okay with him. “That’s my sign I’m doing something right,” he says.
Less controversial but just as funny is the animated series Post-Nup, about the marital relations of Omar, an Indian “web entrepreneur,” and his Jewish lawyer wife, Gaby. “There are so many funny similarities between the two cultures,” he says.
Both series are following a familiar trajectory for Sood, going back to the days of his first project, Badmash. In 2004, after working on a screenplay for a year, Sood and his two writing buddies had “a bunch of funny scenes but no script.” So they had it illustrated, put it on the web, and email blasted it to some friends. Within months, Badmash was getting thousands of hits a day.
The success of Badmash led to some high-level consulting work, but Sood wasn’t in the game to create for other people. “We wanted to do stuff for ourselves,” he says. So they closed their consulting firm and went their separate ways – Sood, who had recently gotten married, to focus on his software firm, Monsoon, and making “real money.”
But Badmash lived on, eventually attracting the attention of an outside investor. The crew reunited and founded an animation studio in India. In the meantime Sood had been writing a comic strip called Doubtsourcing, based on the actual goings-on at Monsoon. Together they turned Doubtsourcing into a highly produced animated series, which in truth rivals anything on American TV. With luck it will soon be on American TV.
Thanks to Badmash and Doubtsourcing, Sood’s mailing list is quite a bit bigger these days than it was in 2004. As with the earlier projects, his goal is to complete several projects and ultimately sell them for television distribution; but for now, he’s fully focused on developing his online audience. Post-Nup, like his earlier projects, is getting the most attention from diaspora Indians. But ACK! has caught fire in India itself. Why? “More Indians appreciate this humor than ever before” he ventures. “…guess there are a lot more sarcastic a–holes like me out there now.”