New series about Surrey, B.C., picked up for TV
Friday, August 4, 2017

A couple of guys from Surrey, B.C., are coming to a TV screen near you.

Welcome to Surrey creators Kashif Pasta and Shyam Valera are debuting the first episode of their five-part series at a screening event at Surrey City Hall.

The show will be available online and on Telus Optik later this month.

"You hear all these stories on the news and stuff about Surrey, but it's nothing like that when you're living here," Valera said.

"We base it more on our reality growing up in Surrey."

No cheap shots

The show is based around a character named Suneet, who grew up in Surrey but went to medical school in Toronto.

After graduating at the top of her class, she returns to her hometown where she reconnects with her family and old friends and discovers little has changed.

Pasta says there are plenty of jokes about Surrey, but he doesn't take any cheap shots.

"We actually think it's a great city and a great place to be," he said.

"It's a great place to be a kid and it's a great place to raise kids but, [if you're] in between, it's not built for you. That's inherently comedic."

Kashif, who also stars in the series alongside Valera, says the characters are loosely based on a mixture of the people he grew up with.

"As long as the jokes are rooted in truth. The cheap shots are usually clichés that aren't really true. But, if you make them true, that makes the jokes even better," he said.

Long road

Pasta and Valera first pitched their series about a year ago in an online competition.

They didn't win but their vision caught the attention of TV executives at Telus. Telus Optik put up some money for Pasta and Valera to film five episodes.

"They said, 'Hey guys, we really like your pitch but it fell a little bit short," Valera said.

"They said, 'Do you want to come talk to us?' And we were like, 'Yes. Yes. Yes!'"

Leading roles

Only a handful of South Asian actors have been cast in leading roles in Hollywood productions.

Pasta says, however, that's starting to change with the success of series like Master of None and The Mindy Project.

"What's really cool now, having multiple shows, is that they're hitting all different aspects," Pasta said.

"None of them, including our own, are saying this is about being South Asian any more than anything on CBS is about the white experience. In a way it is ,but at the same time, it's just telling a story."

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Source: CBC News / Jesse Johnston

Photo: Shyam Valera (left) and Kashif Pasta (right) created the five part series 'Welcome to Surrey.' (Dunya Media)