Saqib Pandor, who worked on Sacred Games, Raman Raghav 2.0 and Ugly as an assistant director to Anurag Kashyap, is now out with his new short film called Gupt Gyaan. Released on Amazon miniTV, the movie, like the title suggests, is about sex education. However, Saqib deals with the matter in his unique way.
The director spoke to OTTplay about releasing his project on the digital platform, bringing the two actors Ashlesha Thakur and Vishesh Bansal together for the short and more. Excerpts:
The first thing I would like to ask you is about the casting. How did Ashlesha and Vishesh come together? The viewers have always been excited to see the two actors together.
I was very fortunate to have them. Ashlesha was my first choice. I was supposed to make this film last year. Unfortunately, it didn't happen because of the lockdown and the pandemic. I saw The Family Man season one and thought she was apt for the show. The second season of the show happened and I was pretty sure I wanted to cast her. I spoke to her and locked her for the film. I was also very lucky to have Vishesh Bansal on my project. He was one of my first auditions. The best thing that happened is that my casting director called both of them to the office. They auditioned together. I saw them and the chemistry between them was so good! When I saw Vishesh, I knew that is what I wanted from him. We auditioned other actors as well but I told my producers that I want them on board because they look good together and I believe they will do justice. It was a fairly easy task to cast them for the film. It wasn't a long casting process.
What has the response to Gupt Gyaan been like? Any memorable or special ones?
The response has been quite good. I've been getting messages on Instagram and WhatsApp. They feel the concept is very relatable. They have seen the same happen with their relatives or friends or someone they know. They found it a cute story and want to watch more of it. They are asking me if I could develop it into a series with different characters or anything related to a teenage love story (giggles). I don't have any plans right now but let's see.
Can it be developed into a series? We more or less have an idea about what Gupt Gyaan is about. What more can we expect if you plan to convert it into a series?
I don't know. I'm very fascinated with teenage love. The things we go through and feel during that time, are what attracts me. I'm not sure if I'll continue with that but something or the other will happen. I like teenage love stories so if a story comes about, I would like to elaborate on it.
When you were an assistant director, you worked on projects like Sacred Games, Ugly and Raman Raghav 2.0. Is that a genre and space you felt comfortable doing or did it for the experience?
(Laughs) I get this question a lot. Anybody who sees my profile, thinks I have worked with Anurag Kashyap for such a long time so I will only make dark films. It is not like that (laughs). I have learnt from him but I have a very personal view of telling a story. I like humour and light-hearted films. I have a different story to tell as compared to him. He will never get influenced by what I like and vice-versa. It's a very different genre. I'm not saying I don't like thrillers or dark stories. If a story comes up that is fascinating for me, I'll definitely take it up. As a director, you like to explore more ideas and genres that would challenge you.
I got the idea for Gupt Gyaan long back. We wrote the script in 2020. Though I got bored there was delay in the project, this script stayed with me. I wanted to make this project, so I went ahead with it.
Sacred Games was, in fact, one of the first Indian shows on Netflix that got people closer to OTT. Now that the medium is here to stay post the pandemic era, do you feel that you would want to explore it more?
(Laughs) I don't know. I feel OTT has given a chance to young directors to showcase their work. It is commendable. Before that, it would be really hard for a director to get a project going. With OTT platforms coming in, it has become somewhat easy. If there's a good story to say, a big platform will support it. It's not that your films won't see the light of the day. OTT has changed that a lot and widened the spectrum of watching films or series. I won't say I only want to work on OTT platforms. It totally depends on the financial aspects, story and more.
So, would you want to work on short films, feature films or web series?
I just want to focus on telling good stories - whether it is a short story, feature film or web series. I have made many short stories. Feature film is a challenge. It's a different medium.
Your upcoming projects?
I'm writing a feature film.