News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Movies » 'A Year Of Memorable Performances'

'A Year Of Memorable Performances'

December 27, 2023 11:25 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'Suvinder Vicky in Kohrra.'
'Manoj Bajpayee in Joram.'
'Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub in Joram and Scoop.'
'Gagan Dev Riar in Scam 2003.'
'Sukant Goel in Kaala Paani.'
'The number of awards will not be enough for the kind of work that has happened this year.'

IMAGE: Hansal Mehta, centre, with Karishma Tanna, left, and Jigna Vora, right, on the sets of Scoop. Photograph: Kind courtesy Hansal Mehta/Instagram

It's been a wonderful year for Hansal Mehta.

Riding high for two shows and two films this year, he once again affirms his position as a star film-maker.

Mehta was especially lauded for apt casting in his projects that featured many lesser-known names.

"You take up the challenge and then see it all coming through. All that was challenging, but very, very, gratifying," he tells Mayur Sanap/

How do you look back at 2023?

The year began with Faraaz, then Scoop came out, then Scam 2003. And then, the premiere of The Buckingham Murders. It's been quite a quite a year.

IMAGE: Aditya Rawal and Zahaan Kapoor in Faraaz.

What was the most gratifying aspect of your creative journey this year?

The most gratifying part is that your work is out there for the world to see. And it has happened quite successfully this year.

Both Scoop and Scam 2003 did very well on their respective streaming platforms.

Scoop won so many awards.

When Faraaz came on Netflix, it was in the top 10 worldwide for two weeks. It was a non-original Netflix film, starring new people, and yet, it got so much love.

The same with Scoop. It was an unexpected cast of Karishma Tanna, Harman Baweja, Deven Bhojani and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.

In Scam 2003, it was the breakout performance of Gagan Dev Riar.

And then there's Kareena Kapoor in a completely new avatar in The Buckingham Murders.

You take up the challenge and then see it all coming through. It was challenging but very, very gratifying.

IMAGE: Pratik Gandhi in Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story.

In the industry that's so star-obsessed, you have always been gutsy with your casting choices. What's your thought process behind this? How easy or difficult it is to convince the studio to back these choices?

Luckily, I have had good success with my choices, whether it is Rajkummar Rao or Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh, or Pratik Gandhi in Scam 1992.

I trust my instinct about a person's suitability for the role. I must say that I'm fortunate that I've been supported in this by my producers and studios.

The big challenge in that you have to do it within a budget that a star does not drop. I'm okay with doing that.

As long as my choices are respected, I'm okay with respecting the producers' wishes in terms of budget.

Given your success rate, many big-league actors must have expressed their desire to work with you.

See, I work with good actors. Whether it's a big star or a non-star, that does not come in the way of my casting choices.

Among the stars, you have some fantastic actors, and I am happy to work with them if they embrace the character the way I would like it to be embraced.

That being said, I don't have people at my doorstep saying, 'I want to work with you.'

There's a lot of respect, I must say.

Some of the major stars have watched my work and responded with a lot of love and respect.

But every story has its requirements. For example, The Buckingham Murders needed somebody like Kareena, and she's worked so beautifully in it.

IMAGE: Harman Baweja, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Karishma Tanna and Prosenjit in Scoop.

Were you disappointed that Scam 2003 didn't make same impact as Scam 1992, despite the terrific lead performance from Gagan Dev Riar?

Scam 1992 came during the pandemic and there was a dearth of current content. Anything that is compared to that is going to be at a disadvantage.

Scam 2003 came with a disadvantage of being compared to the first season.

But if you look at it as standalone show, it has done well in a year that has seen some exceptional work on streaming.

The platform is very happy and as a creator I am taking learnings with me going forward.

What have been your learnings here?

Well, that you will see in the further seasons. (Laughs.)

IMAGE: Gagan Dev Riar in Scam 2003.

What is your honest opinion about the bifurcation of show in two parts? Do you think Scam 2003 suffered because of that?

Yes, to some extent. But we had no choice because the show was not ready.

There were commercial and marketing compulsions to release the show on a particular date.

I don't dabble in things that are beyond my expertise.

My job was to ensure that the show was delivered to them, and we were able to deliver the first part at that time.

It took us a couple of more months to finish the second part. It was more a practical thing than a deliberate strategy.

There's such a great scope and freedom for out-of-the-box ideas on OTT. Is the film-maker in you growing apprehensive of big screen outings in any way?

No. Both long-form and feature film mediums require different types of storytelling. I enjoy the challenges of both.

Of course, I have seen a lot of success with the long forms and I'm doing more of that right now. But I've had two features and two series this year.

The story really decides the medium for me.

In Scam 1992, for example, I don't think you could do justice to that character in a feature film. It needed the long form.

What are some films and shows that you enjoyed watching this year?

Just yesterday I told somebody about it, it's a Mammootty film on Netflix by Lijo Jose Pellissery. (Struggles to remember)

IMAGE: Mammootty in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam.

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam?

Oh yes! Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam.

I saw that film four times. Twice on the same day.

It really had an impact on me.

Mammootty is in absolutely sublime form right now. He is really such a brilliant actor.

Then I saw Jigarthanda, the new version (Jigarthanda DoubleX). And again, I was blown away by the film. I was moved by it too.

Somehow I saw myself in the film. That one moment in the film where he says 'Action!', something happened to me. That's what I live for. As a film-maker, you see yourself in that film, it is such a beautiful film.

Streaming wise, it's been such an overwhelming year. I watched both the seasons of The Bear. I really enjoyed that.

Any memorable performances?

Oh, this has been a year of memorable performances.

Suvinder Vicky in Kohrra.

Manoj Bajpayee in Joram.

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub in Joram and Scoop.

Gagan Dev Riar in Scam 2003.

Sukant Goel in Kaala Paani.

It's been such a great year in acting performances. The number of awards will not be enough for the kind of work that has happened this year.

I was disappointed that actors like Harman Baweja, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Deven Bhojani (all three from Scoop) did not get their due even though their performances were spectacular. All because of the kind of year it is!

IMAGE: Barun Sobti and Suvinder Vicky in Kohrra.

Are there any real life incidents from 2023 that might have impacted or inspired you to make a film or show?

You will see. (Laughs)

I work around a real life incident after I reflect a lot on it.

I have to see the potential for making it into something that is cinematically engaging.

The event does not really drive my choice to tell the story, it is driven by the journey of the characters.

The current trend in Bollywood goes about making hyper-nationalist and jingoistic or hyper-masculine films. What do you think of the content that's coming out these days?

To each his own.

It's for the audience to choose what they want to see and don't want to see. As a film-maker, you should be allowed to make what you believe in.

What's the way to balance out artistic integrity and commercial viability?

I can only talk about myself.

I think you'll find ways of making your voice heard.

You have to realise that we are film-makers, and your job is to tell stories and through the stories reflect on the types that you are representing.

I will not make a film criticism for the sake of criticism, or sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism.

I think there is much more to explore.

Through my characters, and through their journeys, I think I try to explore whatever social-political themes I believe in, and what concerns me at that time.

As a film-maker and cinema audience, what changes do like to see happening in 2024?

We just need the audience to keep encouraging and watching all kinds of work. Not just one kind.

The audiences who complain that about a certain kind of content need to encourage the content that they would like to see. So that, that is made more.

IMAGE: Kareena Kapoor Khan in Hansal Mehta's upcoming directorial The Buckingham Murders. The actress, who also serves as co-producer, plays a British-Indian detective in the film.

Your next is The Buckingham Murders with Kareena. The film had a fantastic premiere at MAMI. What was that experience like?

It was quite overwhelming.

I end the year on a note of gratitude.

We worked hard, but a lot of wonderful things have happened. And for that, I'm just grateful.

The Buckingham Murders is a labour of love. It's made with a lot of love and care. I'm glad to see the reception that it got.

What's the update on your new show with Pratik Gandhi on Mahatma Gandhi?

We are on the floors as we speak.

Any New Year resolution for 2024?

To continue what I'm doing this year and to do it better. (Laughs.)

More than a resolution, there's a prayer for peace in the world and this Israel-Palestine conflict comes to an end, so that more innocent lives are not lost.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: