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Exclusive! Mihir Desai: As filmmakers, we don't necessarily choose scripts based on the trends

Mihir Desai has helmed Disney+Hotstar's latest offering, Masoom.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 04.19 PM, Jun 19, 2022

Exclusive! Mihir Desai: As filmmakers, we don't necessarily choose scripts based on the trends

Masoom has released on Disney+Hotstar and the director Mihir Desai has been receiving acclaims for the same. He is a name you would associate with Mirzapur before the web series, Masoom. In an interview with OTTplay, Mihir spoke about working with Boman Irani, who made his debut with the show, what went on behind the cameras and more. Excerpts…

Mirzapur to Masoom is quite the switch, won't you say?

The whole idea is to try different things and genres. That is the fun of filmmaking, where there's this skill of telling the story and making people believe in that. So, I was very excited when the script came to me - at least it's different from Mirzapur and I don't have to repeat myself as a filmmaker. The switch was very welcoming to be honest.

How would you say both the series are different?

They are poles apart. They're completely different in the sense that Masoom is a very intimate drama with a lot of thrill in it. The thrill isn't so much action or people dying every two seconds. It's more about the family dynamics and that will really keep you hooked. The secrets which are revealed and they are revealed at such a pace, you'll always want to play a guessing game as to why has done what and why. As a genre piece, this is very different from Mirzapur. That's a gangster drama and this is a thriller with a heavy, dramatic backing to it.

So, it taps into your emotions much more than Mirzapur, right?

It could. They both have their levels of emotions. The best way to put this (Masoom) is that you come for the thrill and stay for the drama. We have really amped up the emotions here because I've realized that it's the only way that people will connect with characters. If you don't have an emotional connect with the character, you might not stay back for the episodes or empathize with the character. The whole point of a thriller genre is that everyone is right and at the same time, they are wrong. There are two sides to each character and as an audience member, you will pick your character who stays with you or who you feel is masoom in a sense. The connect is very important.

Before connecting with the audiences, you have got to connect with the actors in a way to express the emotions. So, tell me a little more about what was your method while directing this show?

Every filmmaker and actor have their own process. It is your job to mould yourself and them to work with each other.

Boman, for example is somebody who believes in not getting into the nitty-gritties of performances with the filmmaker as opposed to first staying true to the script and discussing the script in detail. He will always question the why of a character and then, he has his own process of representing it.

Upasana, on the other hand, is the kind of actor who has so much range and experience that she'll start at a certain place and as you converse with her, it moulds into something really beautiful over time. Because she has the skill set of a wonderful actor, she knows exactly where to tweak her performance and how to take it to another place.

Samara, on the other hand, is kind of very instinctive and has a lot of prep behind what she does. She's the kind of person who draws from personal experiences. She will really dig deep into herself to be honest with the character.

Once you know these things about these actors, then you have conversations accordingly. It's never really directing in the sense of telling them what to do as opposed to guiding them in the right direction so they use their own skillset to perform.

Tell me about the title - because it is also the name of a very iconic film. What was the thought process behind using this title for the show? Do you somewhere feel that people will recall that film before going to the series?

The thought process was staying true to the story. Juxtaposing a name with the genre of the film is always very interesting. Here, you see the title Masoom but it is with cracks and blood. So, you know it's not that masoom also.

The whole idea was that Sana enters the story with a very innocent, investigative nature of who has really killed her mother and what happens. There's a lot of innocence to every character. They are not really black or white. They have become grey because of the circumstances. Eventually, what the story is about, who's the innocent one, who isn't. We thought Masoom fits the bill correctly.

What inspired the story of Masoom?

It's the official adaptation of an Irish show called Blood. We've kept the story beats the same but made sure the experience is different. The making, music, performances and emotional holding of the story is completely different from Blood.

Did it happen after the success of family dramas that explored an happy-on-the-face dysfunctional-on-the-inside families?

Honestly, no. As filmmakers, we don't necessarily choose scripts based on the trend. While reading the script, we feel that it is worth it. What you watch should be how I felt while reading the script. I was so intrigued while reading the script. I wanted to know who killed the mother, what is the relationship between the father and the daughter and why does she hate the father so much. Those questions were coming up and I was really curious to find out what happens in the end. That curiousity made me want to take up this show rather than a trend.

Did you happen to watch Blood? Did you go back and try to understand what that series was and how you had to pan it out differently?

No, I still haven't seen Blood. I've just seen bits-and-pieces. I consciously didn't want to watch it. I wanted a unique visual and musical sense. We've kept the story beats the same because we didn't want to change what already worked. However, I wanted to treat this very differently visually, in terms of pacing and edit. Thus, I requested my teammates as well to refrain so we could try something of our own. Now that the show's done, I think I'll definitely watch it. Whatever bits I saw were really fascinating. Eventually, it's a great story on paper and so, it has been made on such a huge scale. Thus, there has to be merit in it.

Is Masoom a story that can become a franchise? Have you guys thought about it? Is it going to happen?

I hope it does. If people enjoy it enough to watch season two and three, then it might happen.

What's the update on Mirzapur?

It's happening for sure. That's all I can say.

What do you have at hand apart from these two projects?

I'm reading scripts and having conversations with certain writers as to what can happen. Right now, the focus is completely on Masoom.

People are actually curious about the show, since it is Boman's debut on OTT and looks pretty powerful...

Yeah, this is a different Boman. We're so used to his mannerisms but here, it is very stoic. It is very interesting.