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'We never see the big twists coming'

By PATCY N
March 09, 2022 14:24 IST
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'There will be other innovations coming, but, at the moment, this combination of the mobile phone and the Internet is such a disruptive way to deliver content.'

Rohan Sippy has walked a path quite different from the one explored by his father, the legendary film-maker Ramesh Sippy.

Besides films -- who can forget the wonderful tadka of mystery and comedy in Bluffmaster? -- Rohan has brought us OTT series like Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors, The Office, Aranyak and, now, Mithya.

While he hopes to helm a film soon, he tells Patcy N/Rediff.com, he reveals why he can't resist the magic of OTT.

IMAGE: The cast of The Office.

What kind of shows or films do you like? What genre interests you?

I love comedy.

I think of it especially when I'm working on intense stuff or even otherwise (laughs).

There is so little being done right now in India as far as comedy is concerned. That's why I was kicked when I got a chance to work on The Office a few years ago; it was an absolutely brilliant show.

I really hope we have scope for comedy in India. I enjoy watching it; it's such a great stressbuster.

For me, it's a chance to binge-watch something that goes beyond binging; it's about enjoying the comedy and spending time with these characters. It's great fun.

So far, it's been one of the less-produced genres. I hope that changes.

Of course, crime shows are always fun.

There's so much incredible stuff out there. You can go down any kind of rabbit hole and see hundreds of hours of it.

Mithya is your third adaptation after Criminal Justice and The Office. Are you looking at more adaptations?

More than adapting, I would love to work in genres that can be adapted in other markets.

If, in the next cycle, we can move towards supporting original writing. produce it well, have platforms give it that opportunity and then, tomorrow, those become the formats that people in other parts of the world want to adapt... that, I think, is the Holy Grail for us as creators.

 

IMAGE: Huma Qureshi in Mithya.

You have been involved in a number of OTT shows. Do you see OTT as the future of entertainment in India?

Who knows? You've talked about two huge things -- the future and India.

OTT boomed during the pandemic.

I hope OTT continues to boom as it has given us storytellers and transformative actors great opportunities that we would not have otherwise got.

In the last few years, I have worked with actors of the calibre of Pankaj Tripathi, Atul Kulkarni, Divya Seth, Huma Qureshi, Zakir Hussain, Rajat Kapoor, Parambrata Chatterjee, Ashustosh Rana... an endless number with whom I may not have been able to work with otherwise.

To satisfy that greed at least, I would love for it to continue.

The kind of writing we are doing now is also interesting for me personally, so I hope the audience thinks the same way I do and keeps supporting and enjoying this platform.

I am sure there will be other innovations coming, but, at the moment, this combination of the mobile phone and the Internet is such a disruptive way to deliver content.

It's hard to imagine it won't stay.

At the same time, history has always taught us that we never really see the big twists coming.

Rohan Sippy and the Mithya team celebrate

IMAGE: Rohan Sippy and the Mithya team celebrate. Photograph: Kind courtesy Indraneil Sengupta/Instagram

As a director, when you are shooting an intense show like Mithya, do you want your actors to be in the same intense zone all the time?

I think that's very much an individual decision.

I am not the kind of director who will pretend to know what works for all actors.

The late heart surgeon Dr (Nityanand) Mandke -- one of the greats in his profession -- made a wonderful observation that applies to every industry. 'The patient is serious,' he said, 'not me.'

'The fact that you are doing life-and-death kind of work doesn't have to show on your face. You could be singing an old Hindi song while you are doing it or joking with the anaesthesiologist or the nurse. That doesn't mean the job you are doing does not have 1,000 per cent of your concentration.'

Some people can work like that; others need to shut up and transport themselves.

Each actor has to identify what works for them. Some actors may not like messing around in the middle of something; others may need it.

To say that there's only one way for everyone is crazy.

As long as you are getting what you, as the director, want between action and cut, how the actor achieves it is his or her call; at least, that's my approach.

What was the atmosphere like on the sets of Mithya?

Huma doesn't need to be serious between shots to bring alive the character she is playing.

As soon as she is in front of the camera, she's focused; in between shots, she doesn't like to stress. She's in great spirits and keeps the mood light.

Avantika (Dassani, Bhagyashree's daughter, who makes her debut with Mithya) was more about staying in her character; it's her first experience as an actor so it's very natural thing for her to try and not get distracted.

Param was enjoying himself; he has a long association with Mithya's Director of Photography Sirsha Ray so both the stories they had to share and their chemistry was wonderful.

As Bengalis, both knew Darjeeling like the back of their hands. It was great to have these self-appointed food experts and guides with us so outdoor eating was well taken care of (laughs).

When you are shooting in Mumbai, you can't shut off your city life because, once you are back home, you have things happening there, your family and other work responsibilities.

When you are shooting outdoors, all your energy goes into working, socialising or interacting with the same people. It really is nice to get that time to bond because of which work becomes less stressful.

You end up keeping things relaxed even if the work you are doing is serious. As a result, the quality of your work improves.

Like Cheat, (the BBC show from which Mithya is adapted), will Mithya be limited to one season?

I think they are hoping to take it ahead. But this is a question that Zee and Applause Entertainment (the OTT network and the producer) will best be able to answer.

I hope they do take it forward because it was a great experience for me. I had the opportunity to work with a great set of people, including Goldie (Behl, one of the producers), the actors and everyone else.

I think it checked all the boxes plus we had great experience personally; we did good work and I think everyone's quite kicked about it.

I hope the creative team will be able to come up with another round.

IMAGE: Kirti Kulhari in Criminal Justice 2.

When will we see you directing films again?

Sooner, I hope, than later.

Doing this was not a conscious decision; it just so happened that interesting opportunities came my way and I was way too tempted by them.

At the moment, as far as movies are concerned, there's nothing on schedule or announced yet.

After Mithya, what are you working on?

I am working with Applause Entertainment again. We are doing Season 3 of Criminal Justice; that's in production right now.

There are a couple of other conversations happening as well; though they are close to being finalised, things move at their own pace in this highly corporate world. Besides, there is a certain element of unpredictability as well.

Like (the late legendary American screenwriter) William Goldman said about Hollywood 40 years ago -- and it's something that still holds true -- 'Nobody knows anything' (laughs).

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PATCY N / Rediff.com