By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, Sep 25 (IANS) From the time they made their debut in Bollywood with the 2003 film “Flavors”, over the past decade and half through films as diverse as “Shor In The City”, “Go Goa Gone”, and “Stree”, and their recent web series “The Family Man”, the filmmaker duo of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK has carved a space in the entertainment business by bending convention. Although mainstream cinema is changing, the duo believes the digital platform is a more personal and liberating space for any storyteller, besides, of course, lesser censorship hassle.
“Expressing an opinion on digital platforms — in the form of a story, a blog, a film or a show — is easier because these platforms are still personal spaces. There is the opinion of individual viewing, which is not the case when a film releases theatrically. Cinema is a mass medium that offers a collective experience. It is susceptible to the marketing force. We start creating buzz before the release of a film because we want to secure its box-office collections,” DK told IANS.
Raj pointed out how small elements such as the interval, songs, the need to finish a story within two hours were some of the pressure a filmmaker faced, but these could be done away with while creating shows for OTT platforms.
Their new show “The Family Man” is about a middle-aged man named Srikant Tiwari, played by Manoj Bajpayee, who struggles to balance his lives as a middle-class family man and his high-risk duty at a top-secret special cell of the National Intelligency Agency.
With National award-winning actors Manoj Bajpayee of Bollywood being paired with Tamil star Priyamani as a couple in the series, was the casting a strategy to pool in viewers across both parts of the country — north and south? “When we were writing the story, we wanted to show a cross-cultural marriage so that in the story, quite organically, we could show both sides of Indian culture. While casting, we looked for actors who suited the roles,” said DK.
“We were embracing the diverse culture of India,” added Raj.
The idea, Raj, continued, was to present an authentic milieu. “In ‘The Family Man’, we have kept it authentic and diverse just as things are all over India. So, a character who is Tamil, speaks in Tamil, while a Hindi-speaking person speaks in Hindi. Someone else speaks in Malayalam, because India is a land of languages. The story deals with terrorism and geopolitics, but that is not a problem of Hindi heartland. It is a global issue.”
Their choices — reflected through the films they have directed and produced so far — are obviously different from what normally constitutes mainstream Bollywood. Raj and DK attribute their exposure to a vast variety of cinema for this.
“We have grown up watching proper commercial Telugu cinema at a time when Telugu arthouse cinema was also happening. Being brought up in Andhara Pradesh in the formative years of our lives, we used to watch many Hindi films on DVDs and cassettes because not all of them would release in the smalltown theatres of Andhra.”
After both of them shifted to the US, they got exposed to American independent cinema, and they not only observed the various styles of storytelling but also noted various aspects of filmmaking.
“Our work is a reflection of all the cinematic influence that we have got from both the world – from Telugu commercial films to Bollywood to new-age indie American cinema. Our thoughts amalgamate them all,” added DK.
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at email@example.com)