Is the Indian web space more welcoming to new talent, are writers getting their due, and does the entry of Bollywood superstars like Akshay Kumar change anything? We get Sobita Dhulipala (Made in Heaven, Amazon Prime), Sumeet Vyas (Tripling, TVF), Mithila Palkar (Little Things, Netflix), Veer Rajwant Singh (What The Folks, Dice Media) and Rithvik Dhanjani (XXX, ALT Balaji) to weigh in. Excerpts from our adda with streaming stars:
DOES THE ENTRY OF BOLLYWOOD SUPERSTARS ON THE WEB CHANGE ANYTHING
Veer Rajwant Singh: In the web space, people relate to the character you’re playing and not to actors.
Sobita Dhulipala: I’m doing a show with Netflix and there is a star involved but at no point do I feel compromised. There is no sense of being sidelined which I do feel otherwise, even in an interview or an award function which is like a set up for depression. You feel like you are on the fringes just because you don’t belong to a community. So here everyone is given their share of the pie. There is no compromise because you’re not a star. You don’t feel shortchanged.
Rithvik Dhanjani: Also, on the OTT platforms there’s enough for everybody to do. Of course a star does bring a certain value to the table but beyond that the script and the content is going to be king. If you’re a critical part of that story, you will get your due, no matter what.
THERE’S NO FEAR OF BOX OFFICE
Mithila Palkar: When Little Things released I didn’t have that stress about how much money it has made. We don’t know about it. We just work and put it out there. For me the best audience response is when someone is DMes me to say we’ve watched your show and it’s relatable.
Sobita: It’s liberating when you’re allowed to do just your job. You have to split yourself between being a storyteller and an actor and at the same time be aware of trade and crack deals for yourself. Or make sure your show is a hit so that producers find me secure enough to back. It’s exhausting and takes away the innocence of being an artist. Your worth is in tune with how much you brought back to the table so it’s like you’re a salesperson.
MORE GENEROUS BUDGETS FOR WEB SHOWS
Mithila: At least now we have make-up artists. When we were shooting sketches like ‘Confusing Things Girlfriends Say’ I used to do my own make up and I didn’t know what to do! I used to go to the Pocket Aces washroom, put liner and lip gloss and sit in front of the camera. And everything has been shot in our Executive Producer Juhi’s house.
Sumeet: In the first season of Tripling, if we wrote we need two elephants and two camels to pass by this palace, we just got one camel. This time we wrote a mela scene and in our head we rationed it. We thought kam hi likho, phir kaatenge. But when we went to shoot, it was bigger. There was a huge giant wheel. I thought we were intruding into someone else’s mela. And I also had a vanity van this season!
WHY WEB INVESTS MORE ON WRITING
Sumeet Vyas: This is the only time I’ve found that when the bigger players want to employ you for writing, they are ready to invest in a research and development fund. They take it seriously. Otherwise it felt like a flimsy idea. Something only a legend writer like Javed saab could afford to ask for.
ON WORKING WITH FRESH TALENT
Ritvik: I did this show called Galti Se Mistake with a first-time director. When we were reading the script everything sounded good but there were times where I did think ‘can I trust this new guy’.
Veer: I feel the opposite. When I go to work with an established director I used to wonder if I should voice my opinion. With a new director it is easier to just judge him as a person. Like with Ruchir, who directed What The Folks, there were so many times on Season 1 I would wonder why is he doing it this way. He would take me into a room and talk to me for 20 mins and explain it and then I would feel stupid thinking how did he convince me?!