Meanwhile, Aftab Shivdasani explained why Special Ops 1.5 is more personal
Special Ops 1.5 has broken records within a few days of its release. The show is now among the most-viewed and most-loved series of the year. It steadily climbed up to the fourth position as the most popular OTT original show.
A prequel to Special Ops, Special Ops 1.5 is a tribute to Himmat Singh's story. Played by Kay Kay Menon, the character was something that was built after Special Ops became a huge hit. At least that is when Kay Kay and Neeraj happened to discuss Himmat Singh's journey. Soon, Aftab Shivdasani also came on board and became a pivotal part of the series.
Both Kay Kay and Aftab got into a candid chat with OTTplay about their show, how Special Ops is only made for the web, how Aftab would like to explore as much in film as he does on the web and much more. Excerpts:
Kay Kay, after the last season, it was only a matter of time but were you expecting Special Ops to be dedicated to the story of Himmat Singh so soon?
Is this soon? We had COVID, you remember? We somehow managed to put it in place.
Special Ops ended on a cliffhanger. So shouldn't the show have continued from where it left off?
It's a tributary to Special Ops 1. It's the story of the past. Here, he meets Aftab's character and other characters.
Aftab, what brings you to the show?
I put Neeraj sir on gunpoint and said I want to be a part of the show. I saw it in 2020 and instantly binged it. Of course, they were casting for the next season and I got a call from the team so I was excited. I thought it was amazing and always wanted to work with Neeraj sir. This has just been an icing on the cake. Like Kay Kay sir said, it is a tribute to Himmat and his past. I think this season is very personal. It gets you more into who the characters are and what made the characters the way they are. It takes me back in time. That's where I come in with my capacity as an actor.
Was Special Ops 1.5 pre-decided while shooting for Special Ops or happened as the responses came in?
One needs to go into Neeraj Pandey's mind. It is very difficult to predict. It is difficult to answer that question because it is the brain of Neeraj Pandey.
Did you discuss the script with him on sets while shooting for Special Ops or later?
No, while we were shooting for Special Ops, that's the only thing we were doing. I believe it was the success of the show that prompted him, after which his creative juices started flowing.
Now that theatres have also opened up, do we see Special Ops turn into a film?
No, film has its own grammar. This has its own graph. Web series have a different graph and grammar so you can't mix the two in terms of time and length. It was meant to be a web series and shall remain a web series.
Aftab, you are known for your comic roles on the big screen but have explored on the web with Poison and now Special Ops. Is it like an Aftab 2.0 that you are trying to bring to the forefront?
No, no. I like to believe that there are more opportunities on the web to explore yourself. I'm really glad to get an opportunity to do something that I haven't done. I would love to do something like this in films as well but it's just a medium that gives you a broader spectrum of opportunities. Poison was fun and Special Ops has its own novelty and I would love to do stuff like that whether it is shows or film. An actor is an actor. Various spectrums and mediums don't matter because people are watching everything, whether it's online or in theatre.
Kay Kay, what are your views on censorship on OTT?
It is an internal process. Nobody can really tell you but as long as we are aware of what we do, we don't want to live having a monitor in the class all the time. A mature society would want their own people to mature and bring out content that is responsible enough. When somebody tells you not to do something, there will be a rebellion. The best thing to do is be responsible yourself.
Do you think that the OTT boom has increased the shelf life of actors?
I have always believed that actors don't have an expiry date. Stars might have an expiry date because they get wrinkles. As far as actors, purely actors, are concerned, they can keep working as actors as long as they die. That is never an issue. Now, because of web series and OTT platforms, there's more viewership for these actors.
With the reopening of theatres, do you think it'll impact OTT viewership?
There's no such thing as compartmentalising these things. Each medium has its own fascination and grammar. Cinema and theatres will remain as exciting as ever. They are not mutually against each other. They co-exist. Each one has its own charm. People will have double entertainment once cinemas open up completely.