Sandeep Modi, the filmmaker behind some intriguing web series gets candid with The Pioneer about creating web shows for OTT, crime as a genre on the web, and more.
For a long time, our film industry has been in two different leagues. While all industries have been making waves globally with their content and thankfully, the introduction of web series in the country brought about a fresh wave of new content.
Creators are not shying away from trying to create content that is out of the box. The biggest motivating factor in this is the lack of censorship! Because the battle between creators and the censors has been going on for ages. With the franchise of Aarya and The Night Manager, we have got enough glimpses of the potential of the content which we are able to produce.
Out of the way, it’s Sandeep Modi known to be the deviser behind these web series you can’t afford to miss. He spells out, “Any creator who says that they are not compromising while creating a web show for the OTT is lying! I am talking about smart compromises. Adaptability, maybe? As a creator, sometimes we adapt for a conflict or sometimes we adapt for an opportunity. For example, while shooting the Sushmita Sen starrer Aarya — my co-creator calls me and says ‘Sandeep do you know we have a ‘Grehan’ (Eclipse) tonight?’ The whole crew started to have a serious discussion on how can we stay indoors, on the contrary, my instinct was persuading me on how to incorporate this in the series. This is how a creator adapts! And, this is a compromise in simple language.”
Continuing to elucidate about touching the controversial elements, he says, “For me as a creator both the web shows are not about drugs/arms respectively. The criminal conflict is what excited me! And, the point of view of Sushmita Sen and Aditya Roy Kapur brought in more interesting details in the stories. These shows make you understand that there are no black-and-white moments in life. Their perspectives mattered a lot to me on the sets.”
Putting into words on a hysterical note, whether crime is his most favoured genre? He explained, “I am not curious about criminal behaviour, as a creator I am curious about the audience’s behaviour. Crime is the only genre that can hook audiences instantly on the web! Development is very important for a creator. From the past five years what I have learnt is web series are a hybrid between films and television, so it still has the cinematic mess in it irrespective of the medium! And, I am greedy for more screen time. Game of Thrones or Succession are very good examples of the biggest motivating factors for creators to make series like these.”
What he meant was he wanted both his web series to be felt, and not just consumed. He was going with the monotonous idea of an episodic show but the platform and powers suggested him something extraordinary — maybe, similar to a movie? Just the duration of the interval was not in his hands! Still, he timed The Night Manager correctly, and despite the gap the experiment was a success because people were waiting for the new episodes with a bated breath. Nobody had forgotten the trajectory of any characters! The anticipation only increased and increased.
He continued, “I don’t fall for the obvious. I was taking a chance and knew it because if we, for instance, talk about The Night Manager, originally it was set during the gulf war. I had to do the same for the Indianised version and dip it into the pages of history. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination! I needed to feel the conflict for the sake of my protagonist. To bring a certain element of patriotism too — changed the whole idea of it. My protagonist is not based in the country but is still so patriotic! Forging ahead, my conscious made me take the story a little ahead toward Sri Lanka too. On a lighter note, I was working with senior but young actors that’s Sushmita and Anil Kapoor for me (he laughed).”
While the web space in the country is still relatively young, he as a creator feels that his content is actually putting a mirror on the things that are happening in our society, and is now free to present his stories the way he actually wants to.