'Before going to Kashmir, we were apprehensive because of what we had heard.'
'But what we saw when we reached Kashmir was altogether different.'
Sachin Mamta Krishn, who has co-directed the espionage thriller Tanaav with Sudhir Mishra, feels Israeli stories fit rather well in the Indian context because both countries portray similar ethos and emotions.
Krishn is happy with the response that Tanaav, a remake of the hit Israeli Web series Fauda, has garnered and tells Rediff.com Contributor Namrata Thakker, "The beauty of Fauda is that they have managed to make extreme violence look so casual that it chills you to the bone. The authenticity with which Fauda has been made, if we have achieved even one tenth of it, then we call ourselves successful."
Are you happy with how Tanaav turned out at the end and the response it has got?
One is never happy with how a product shapes up because it is never completed, it's only abandoned. There is always a feeling that you could have done more, added more.
But I am extremely happy with the response that Tanaav has been getting.
It's beyond than what we expected.
What was it about Fauda that you were drawn to and want to adapt for the Indian audience?
I think everybody was drawn to Fauda.
It's more like documentary than fiction.
It's so realistic, so well done.
When you're watching it unfold on screen, you are actually there with the characters. It's so palpable and organic.
The beauty of Fauda is that they have managed to make extreme violence look so casual that it chills you to the bone.
Instead of focusing on it or harping on it, they have shown things happening in a jiffy and that's how life is.
It changes in a second and doesn't give you any notice.
The authenticity with which Fauda has been made, if we have achieved even one tenth of it, then we call ourselves successful.
Fauda was a success, but it did receive criticism because of the nature of its story. Was that aspect at the back of your mind while making Tanaav?
No, you cannot be making something with that in mind or else every step will be calculated in such a way that you will end up making something very clinically.
Having said that, of course at a subconscious level, you do have this sense of responsibility when you tackle a subject that isn't a rom-com or a casual drama.
It's a very serious subject that talks about real situations and real people.
Obviously, that has to be at the back of your mind, but when you're shooting or directing, you can't be bogged down by that thought. Otherwise, you end up on a tight rope and falling off it.
Was it a challenge to cast actors from Kashmir? How did you go about it?
Yes, it was challenging. Right from the start, we wanted to make not just a real show but a hyper real show which takes you to the Valley and shows you the Kashmir which no one has seen.
In fact, we have shot in places where even tourists were wary of going, as we wanted to get into the heart of Kashmir and bring out the flavour in Tanaav.
As far as casting is concerned, it was a very conscious decision to cast as many people with Kashmiri roots as possible.
If you notice, most of the characters when they talk in Hindi, there's a sprinkling of Kashmiri in their language, which made everything more authentic.
So even at the cost of not casting big names, we went in the flavour of authenticity and tried to keep the show real.
What was harder: The idea of making a show about a sensitive topic or physically shooting in Kashmir?
The Kashmir shoot turned out to be a pleasure.
Before going to Kashmir, we were apprehensive because of what we had heard.
But what we saw when we reached Kashmir was altogether different.
The place is beautiful, the people are so welcoming, even the weather was great.
Shooting wise, it's probably tougher to shoot in Bombay than in Kashmir.
But yes, tackling a subject which is sensitive in nature is always tough. Also, what we were shooting was really intense and that did drain us out.
Being a cinematographer, in what way does that help when you make a show or a movie as a director?
Cinematography means writing with light and at the end of the day, you are writing a story with light.
Over the years as a cinematographer, I have worked with people like Prakash Jha and Sudhir Mishra.
The reason why my association with them has lasted so long is because I was working with them as a co-collaborator rather than just a cinematographer.
So I may have turned director now, but in my head, I have always worked as a co-collaborator because that's the only way I enjoy my work.
Unless I don't enjoy the process of storytelling, I don't identify with the project.
Hence, in my case, it was a logical progression to turn a director as I always wanted to tell stories than be a mere technician.
Tell us about your association with Sudhir Mishra, who co-directs Tanaav.
It's been a long, long, association. We have been working together for 10 years now.
Our journey started with a beautiful film called Khoya Khoya Chaand.
From the time we took our first shot together, we hit a bizarre and divine sync.
I mean there were no questions asked after that.
We have done six-seven features films, I co-directed Hostages with Sudhir and now, we have made Tanaav together.
Our collaboration lasted so long because our sense of cinema is the same. We don't need to communicate when we are on the sets.
When I was directing my portions, I was doing everything. But even when Sudhir was directing, I was being the DoP (director of photography).
So I never felt disjointed or unaware. When you see the show, you won't be able to tell who's directed which scenes.
That cohesiveness happens when you have worked together for years.
Both Hostages and Tanaav are remakes of Israeli shows...
It was purely by chance.
Hostages was offered to Sudhir by Applause Entertainment, but we ended up making it together.
When Applause wanted to adapt Fauda, they were kind enough to come to Sudhir and me again.
It's not like I have an affinity for Israeli shows only, but the amazing fact is their stories sit rather well in our context, probably because the ethos and emotions portrayed by them are similar to what we have in our country.
What are you watching currently?
I saw an episode of Shantaram on Apple TV and it's really good. I would love to finish all the episodes.
I also watched this beautiful film called Kantara because of all the hype and it took me some time to settle down in my seat. But in the end, I was stunned.
It's an outstanding film. So heartfelt.
Any show or a film you would recommend watching?
Succession, Sopranos and The Wire.
Any foreign language film or a show you would like to adapt for India?
Why adapt when India is full of stories? I would love to make something original, something rooted to our culture.
Are you working on something original then?
I am working on two feature films and a Web series that I have written myself.