Filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar recently announced that his new project Taish will be releasing on streaming platform ZEE5 as both a feature film and a 6-episode web series. While a number of Indian web series were initially shot as features and then repurposed as web series, such as SonyLIV’s JL50 and MX Player’s Dangerous, this would mark the first time a project is releasing in both formats simultaneously. A revenge thriller starring Pulkit Samrat, Jim Sarbh and Kriti Kharbanda, Taish will release on October 29th as both a 2.5 hour movie and a 6-episode series of half an hour episodes. Following the announcement of the project, the filmmaker discusses the innovative idea and why the two formats are distinctly different viewing experiences.
“Taish was always planned as a feature film for a theatrical release, but then of course lockdown happened so we opted for an online release. But when we held two test screenings for the film, the audience had interesting feedback. They liked the film but said they wanted to know more about certain characters and they wanted it to be a little more immersive. That got me thinking. So, my editor and I were dabbling with the edit and that’s when this thought came of why not try and release it as a feature and a series? And that’s how it started. My editor Priyank Prem Kumar, took a stab at it and asked ourselves: what if we looked at it as a limited series? How would the story play out?
The easiest thing to do is to chop up the film and break it into episodes but when we looked at the film, we knew that would never work for this story. We realised that there has to be a different way of telling the same story. When you have to go back and try and tell the same story with a different perspective, it’s almost like starting from scratch. We revisited the script and found a new way to tell it in the series format and decided to completely change the structure. With the series, we had more time to breathe and stay with the characters, so I could extend and add more bits which were removed from the film version. The film is a condensed version. This gives viewers a choice. If someone watches the film they can still go and watch the series a different viewing experience altogether.
Not every subject will lend itself to something like this. This is a revenge drama told in the format of a thriller, so cliffhangers were sort of already embedded in the script and it organically helped me break it up. I’ve lived with it way too long now so I love both versions in different ways.
Not to compare myself in any way, but when Scorsese made The Irishman as a 3-hour feature, there was so much backlash about the length. But that’s his choice of wanting to tell that story which needs that kind of a pace. And I remember there was that Tweet that went viral which explained how you could break up The Irishman and watch it as a series instead. I think that was somewhere in the back of my mind.
Even when we pitched it to the platform, it was something very new to them. They initially said they wanted to release just the series and maybe release the film two months later, but I said that would ruin the experience. I said let’s give them the option on the same day and let them choose what they want to do. Let’s see how the audience responds. I’m sure there will be enough naysayers, but at the same time I hope there will be enough people who say that we tried something new.”