After the success of Scared Games, director Vikramaditya Motwane turns producer with Ghoul. The very talented writer talks to Saimi Sattar how Netflix is a very rewarding platform and other things.
Even before the euphoria surrounding Sacred Games could subside, Vikramaditya Motwane is back with another web series, Ghoul. While in the former he directed Saif Ali Khan’s journey as Sartaj Singh, in the action horror web television miniseries created by Patrick Graham, he turns producer.
Motwane wears many hats — all of them successfully. He wrote the script for films like Dev.D (2009) and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007). His directorial debut Udaan (2010) was selected to compete in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and also won seven Filmfare awards. His second film was Lootera, a big-budget Bollywood period romance which saw Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha put in a nuanced performance. His third film was Trapped (2017), a survival drama where Rajkummar Rao is confined in an abandoned building. His fourth film Bhavesh Joshi, released theatrically in June 2018 and is doing extremely well digitally.
Two days before Ghoul started streaming, the film director, producer and screenwriter spoke on how the web has set creative spirits free and more.
Digital content is a revolution that is powering creativity.
I think it helps because you are able to tell detailed stories which are more layered. These stories have better characters. We didn’t have that kind of a medium earlier. We had to tell stories in two and a half hours or two hours. It is improving writing and performance.
Why was this not possible in cable TV?
Cable TV in India did not have the ambition for it. In US, perhaps, Showtime and HBO have done it. In India, we did not have that kind of ambition to do that kind of a show on this scale, which had detailed story-telling.
How will it impact mainline film industry?
It will open up as there is another avenue that is a viable option for creative people. It is definitely good for writers, directors and actors. It is an excellent time to be in the industry.
How is Ghoul revolutionary?
It is the first Indian show which does not have a haunted house scenario. The partnership started between us and Blumhouse Productions to do something new original and creative in the horror genre. This is the first step in that direction. So for the Indian market, it is very fresh and for the international market, it is a new look at Indian horror.
What is the inspiration behind Ghoul?
It is an Arabic word and the story is taken from an Arabic folklore. The original story is written by Patrick Graham.
You film grammar is always revolutionary whether it is Sacred Games or Lootera or Udaan?
I try to make the story interesting, I guess. (laughs)
What did having two directors on board in Sacred Games add to the show?
There are two different periods and two different pieces about two different individuals. So, the two directors gave it their own approach. And as a result, it did not feel that the story was being told by one person. So the two stories appeared to have been told by two individuals. So Sartaj’s world is completely differently paced, shot and structured and so is Gaitonde’s. That is valuable.
Did two points of views make it difficult?
We just didn’t go on each other’s sets. We were far away from each other. It was agreed that I won’t go on Anurag Kashyaps’s and he won’t come on mine. That is the only way it could work.
But you would have to be on the same page?
There is a point of view that I have and a point of view that he has, which are very different. The written material was there. But we were not fighting on the editing table. Anurag realised that it was more about him shooting, giving me the first cut and letting me take the decision.
There is a seamless transition between the two stories.
I was writing and editing, and Arti Bajaj, who was editing, has done a marvellous job.
How much was Vikram Chandra, the author of Sacred Games involved in the process? How difficult was it to adapt it to the screen?
He was a part of the entire process. At no point of time did he ever say that we can’t do this or that. He understood that it is a novel and we have to make the series for TV and we are taking it from the novel space and transforming it into the dramatic space. As a result, we were taking some characters and giving them more external conflict. Each episode ends with a cliffhanger. In that terms it was not different from any adaptation of a novel. We were picking out certain conflicts and making them different.
It is considered to be Saif’s best outing after his role as Langda Tyagi in Omkara
He has got his due and people are loving him. I think the medium allows a good performance. It is a medium where it is very difficult to put in a bad performance or a bad writing. It also allows for a layered character and Saif has put in a tremendous performance.
Writer: Saimi Sattar
Source: The Pioneer