SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — Using humor to uncover deep truths in the world of politics is nothing new to “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi, but now the Indian American actor is doing it in a different way — as Rafiq Massoud on HBO’s new comedy series “The Brink,” scheduled to air June 21.
“On the ‘Daily Show’ our currency is news and daily events, whereas on ‘The Brink,’ because it’s narrative fiction we can satirize — we’re not married to what happened on the news today,” Mandvi told India-West June 19.
The show is set in Islamabad, Pakistan and follows three Americans — a fictional Secretary of State Walter Larson (Tim Robbins), Foreign Services officer Alex Talbot (Jack Black) and Navy fighter pilot Zeke Tilson (Pablo Schreiber) — who attempt to save the world after a rogue general seizes control of the country and its nuclear arsenal, according to an HBO press release.
In the first episode, Rafiq and Alex get caught up in a riot on the streets of Islamabad on the way to get Alex some marijuana. Rafiq ends up taking Alex to his home and the two wind up going on a “crazy adventure … inadvertently saving the world while breaking things.”
The writer-actor explained how the show is “pointing out the absurdity and hypocrisy of the people in charge of the world,” and exposes how they are not as well-informed and noble as the average citizen believes.
For instance, Rafiq, who is Talbot’s driver, is overqualified for his job as a driver for the American embassy, but must take it because of the dynamics of geopolitics; Talbot is equally underqualified for his position.
In addition to having his role bumped up from that of a guest star to a series regular, Mandvi was also asked to join the writer’s team, which he happily accepted.
“It was an interesting world to write about and act in,” he told India-West.
Indian American actress Melanie Kannokada, who has been a guest star on hit shows such as “Rules of Engagement” and “Parenthood,” plays Rafiq’s sister Fareeda on the show.
“She and I and Jack ended up having a fun storyline,” Mandvi said.
Before turning to acting, Kannokada studied mechanical engineering at Stanford University and worked as an analyst for McKinsey & Company, according to her Web site.
She also co-founded Hospital for Hope, which is currently developing a self-sustaining hospital that would bring modern healthcare facilities to more than 100,000 villagers in Jharkhand, India.
The recently-married actress will also be seen on CBS’s new medical drama “Code Black” this fall.
Mandvi emphasized that the show is not meant to be a realistic portrayal of the world, though it has elements of truth.
“The job of satire is not an accurate representation,” he said. “Satire exposes truth through exaggeration.”
Mandvi will be live-tweeting @aasif during the season premiere of “The Brink” June 21 at 10:30 p.m.