Director, actor and producer Rahul Riji Nair provides OTTplay with an exclusive look at Jai Mahendran and his experience working for the OTT platform.
Director, producer, and actor Rahul Riji Nair is no stranger to the digital space. From being a producer for Malayalam’s first original Kerala Crime Files- Shiju, Parayil Veedu, Neendakara—to writing for a new web series that is yet to be announced, Rahul is one of the few Malayalam filmmakers who has already become familiar with the dynamics and tactics of OTT platforms.
The director, who debuted as a director in 2017 with Ottamuri Velicham, is looking forward to his next web series, Jai Mahendran, which will debut on SonyLiv on February 9. The National Awardee provides OTTplay with an exclusiv e look at Jai Mahendran and his experience working for the OTT platform.
What is your upcoming web series, Jai Mahendran, all about?
The entertaining web series revolves around a Tahsildar's everyday life at a Taluk office. Saiju Kurup portrays Mahendran, a powerful government employee with a unique approach to getting things done and navigating the system. Despite working for the government, his thinking is more akin to that of a politician.
Since our system is intricate, most of our films do not delve into its dynamics. In actuality, there are numerous complexities and problems arising from power struggles. The main focus of the web series is Mahendran's journey through all of this. It is a light-hearted and slice-of-life kind of project. It is an exciting one for me as I am also playing a prominent role in it.
Has this character been influenced by any real-life events or people you have encountered?
No, but I have gained a better understanding of the system and its complexity because I have known and interacted with a number of government employees.
To what extent is writing for the digital sphere different?
It is clear that the writing is long-form for OTT platforms. I am still learning how to write for the digital space. Because you have to create each episode and ensure that there is a hook at the conclusion of each, writing a web series is a fairly involved process.
Additionally, this format enables the writer to explore and develop the characters further. We have ample time as well as space to delve into the main character and the supporting cast. These roles are vividly constructed as well.
Reports have suggested that Kerala Crime Files may have a sequel. What are your views on it?
Owing to other obligations, I had to leave the project. Though I do not know much about it, the sequel's work is underway. Like any viewer, I am excited to hear more details about the sequel.
Kerala Crime Files is the first original Malayalam web series. What were your thoughts while producing it?
At first, the process was challenging. We gave a few thoughts regarding how people will receive this format. At that time, OTT platforms were beginning to feature localised content. Since Kerala Crime Files is the first Malayalam series, it would be considered a benchmark series.
In addition to Malayalis, we also needed to incorporate a lot of elements that would appeal to a larger audience. Secondly, we were entering an unknown territory without any forerunners. But we were not prepared for the overwhelming response that followed its release.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am currently directing, producing, and writing a web series in Malayalam. Hopefully, official announcements will be made soon, and I might not be able to share too many details about it. One step at a time is what I am doing. I have been planning to do a film this year, but it has been postponed because of these obligations.